Today I went to the main cancer hospital here in Jakarta, called Dharimais, and played with the kids there. I joined a few students from Jakarta International High School, who sometimes come on Saturdays to visit and do activities with the children. Don’t think they’ve ever had a clown visit, though! About six children aged 3-8 joined in the play room, plus two teenagers. I would have liked to have gone room to room, so that those children too sick to go to the play room could also have a fun visit! (They probably need it most, although of course sometimes a visit is not appropriate, one has to be sensitive to the circumstances.) However, it was decided we stay in the play room.
Sakia is the first to arrive, a girl of about 3 or so. I take out my slide whistle and start playing, making funny noises. Sakia starts to giggle: “it sounds like a baby,” she says. (Luckily one of the students accompanying can translate!). I let her try too (of course, I clean the whistle each time). Later I play with a giant comb, pretending it’s a musical instrument and singing along. Sakia asks: “Why is she singing with a comb?” (good question!) and then blurts out “She sounds like a cat!” What a cutie.
More kids arrive and I do a little of my cleaning woman routine, sweeping and dusting. I sweep the kids’ feet — so simple, yet so funny to the kids. One of the kids has lion slippers, so there’s a game right there: petting the little lion and getting bitten, etc.
Each kid gets a clown nose, which they are shy to receive and even shier to put on. After a little while, however, as I’m clowning around, they start to try to put their noses on, unprompted.
While we are playing, the doctor comes in to check on a little boy. He wants the boy to stand up so they can check his strength. The boy stubbornly refuses. It’s up to me to coax him with a little clowning. I don’t even remember what we were doing, but at some point the boy stands up by himself, caught up in the game and forgetting he was not going to. Then the doctor wants to get the boy to walk around a bit. Again, the boy is not having it. Uh-oh. What to do…? He did like the giant scissor I was playing with before, which one of the JIS students picks up to coax him with, and suddenly a game gets started where he is trying to get me with the scissor and cut my dress, and starts chasing after me. All of a sudden, the boy gets up and starts walking! Ha! The boy had fun, and the doctor got what he wanted. Yey!
When I leave, we walk down the hall and as I pass by the rooms, I see Sakia returning to one of them. She points to me and exclaims: “Badut!” That is: “Clown!”