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  • Writer's pictureMichael Roman

Baby Aarema

The clinic had two rooms: one facing Corey’s house, and the other, the Pacific Ocean. The examination room had a table, an electric light bulb, and a few cabinets sparsely filled with gauze, liquids, gloves, equipment, and bandages. Biita stood outside while the rest of the family sat in the waiting room.

Walking past Corey’s house to the back of the clinic, I was the last to arrive. I found Biita standing behind the clinic back. Is she in there, I asked, pointing to the examination room. Looking to the closed white door that broke the monotonous tone of a faded blue cement wall, he nodded.

I expected to hear sounds coming from the examination room, but I heard nothing. Aside from the conversation and card games in the waiting room, the clinic was silent. I asked again, is Areta in there? A man of few words, he smiled and again said yes. I wondered why I didn’t hear anything, but took his word and stood under the shade of the overhang.

After twenty minutes of silence, we heard the sound everyone was waiting to hear. Baby cries filled the room. The nurse announced the sex, “Its a girl!” With the distant sound of the ocean crashing behind us, and the high sun beating down on us, baby Aarema announced her arrival.

The nurse brought her into the waiting room to introduced all of us to her. We celebrated with food, song, and spent the rest of that Sunday afternoon with Aarema. I was in love with life, and life was great!

I was back in school the following day and began the morning with one on one tutoring. Tommy was a fifth-grader struggling in school because of a devastating home situation that resulted in him missing an entire year of school. Teachers thought he would benefit by having me tutor him. We worked on English letters for nearly two months in preparation for his test the following day.

He showed up with the biggest smile and his trusty stubby pencil. To receive a passing mark, a student needed at least 50%. In my class, 85% or better, granted students a treasure box trip. The treasure box was filled with toys, a mix of matchbox cars, small dolls, crayons, pencils, balls, balloons, bubbles, and random McDonald’s happy meal treats my parents shipped with each care package. These things may not have been anything significant to my students in the United States of America, but extremely rare and unique in Tamana; they were like gold to my students on the island. Rewards provided incentives and encouragement to work harder to win a trip to the treasure box. 

Tommy had been eyeing an airplane for the longest time. Pointing to it before sitting down to take the quiz, I knew he worked extra hard at home to prepare.

I was pretending not to watch as he wrote down each letter correctly. I was proud. He identified and scribed each one correctly! Nearing the end of the alphabet, he had not made one mistake.

Not bad, I thought!

Actually, brilliant!

I was so proud of him! He received a perfect mark, and for the first time, he went to the treasure box! The car is much better than the plane; I joked as he walked from his spot. Proudly taking the airplane, he walked to the door and ran into the field for recess with his friends.

Baby Aarema

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