On my to-do list: ‘Write letter to sponsored child’. It’s been there for months but I can’t shift it. It’s proving more stubborn than ‘send tax return stuff to accountant’.
I had been really looking forward to it in the beginning. I had imagined myself sitting in my study like Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt, writing long, meaningful letters to the unknown child.
Then, quite unexpectedly, as I agonised over what I would write in my first missive, I received a letter from the little guy. ‘Hello dear sponsor!’ he said in a flourishing ornate script in his own language, with the English translation below. He informed me that he is a seventh grader and likes natural sciences. He has a sister who does well at school and his mother and father are very hard-working and kind. He loves his family very much. ‘I’ll be very happy if you tell me about your family.’ He signed off with the most beautiful blessing I have ever heard about God keeping me in the palm of his hand. Now I do not know what to write. I have no idea what to say to this ‘disadvantaged’ child who is obviously happier and better adjusted than me.
A disturbing notion has taken hold that I have nothing of real value to communicate. I have resorted to the crib notes in the sponsorship guide. ‘Talk about your family, their likes and dislikes. Give them a picture of your family life.’
All right. Here goes. ‘Dear Zhirayr, I live with a giant black rabbit called BB and a cat called Lou-Lou.