It was a day like any other day. I was seven years old at the time. A sharp, clanging noise of the matron’s hand held bell rudely awakened me. None of the nine girls in the dormitory dared to complain or even sniffle. Last week Jameela had had the audacity to say that she wanted to sleep a bit longer. She was punished by not being allowed any breakfast or lunch. By the time dinner was served she almost fainted from being hungry all day. We had learnt that it was best to follow rules and hope for the best. Any form of disobedience was dealt with by not being allowed to sit for meals. Eventually, most of the children at the orphanage had realized that life seemed better with a full stomach.
That day after breakfast the matron pulled me aside and told me that the head matron wanted to see me. I wondered if I had done anything wrong. As far as I knew nobody saw me sneaking food to Jameela the day before. I could feel my palms sweating as we headed towards the head matron’s office.
When we entered the head matron’s office, I tried my best to stay behind but my efforts weren’t successful. I was ushered into one of the chairs near the head matron’s desk. Her wrinkled face smiled brightly at me and asked me how I was. It was only when I looked across the room that I saw a couple seated on a plush sofa that I realized that this facade was for their benefit.
“This nice couple wants to talk to you. Now be a good girl and answer smartly”
The woman had long hair tied in a plait that reached her waist but it was only when she was talking to me directly that I noticed she had the kindest eyes I had ever seen. I stammered out answers to her non-intrusive questions. The man accompanying her wore rectangular rimmed spectacles and tousled hair. He held out a bar of chocolate for me which I graciously thanked him for. We were only allowed sweets once every few months. After a prolonged discussion, I was told that this couple was thinking of adopting me. They would give me a home; they would be my family. I was so stunned by the news that my prized chocolate dropped from my hands. My life was about to change.