As I was leaving Carasucias (a children’s home), I saw R, M, A, Am, E, and C hunched over together.
I approached them and they all talked at the same time:
“R and E killed this snail!”
“The snail was pregnant!”
“C told me to kill it! C, tell her how you told me to kill it!”
“But it wasn’t me who killed it! R and E killed her!”
“Look at the poor baby snails… all dead.”
And so forth they showed me and told me about the dead snail.
It seemed that they regretted doing this, and couldn’t stop looking at what they had done.
I looked at it for some time too and suggested that we have a proper burial for it. I didn’t want to touch the scattered remains of the poor snail, so I asked the girls to bring some leaves so that we can gather all its parts and head towards the dirt.
Thus, after scooping up the snail in all its gooeyness and shells, all of us headed towards the dirt, where we started digging up the dirt. As soon as we finished, I suggested saying our last words to the snail.
R, one of the ones accused of killing it, went first. She said, “Sorry for killing you. And I didn’t know you were pregnant. Sorry for that too.”
And A told R, “You should be really sorry; especially to the little babies that died. Imagine just being in the womb, and they weren’t even born, and BAM. They died.”
R looked like she was truly sorry. After this E said similar words as R.
Then, I asked, “Is there something we can sing for the snail?”
The girls couldn’t think of anything else but ‘Happy birthday to you’, so they sang this but stopped midway as they thought it wasn’t the most appropriate song in the face of death.
Then R asked, “Will it go to heaven?”
I was honest with what I thought. I said, “I don’t think so… because it has no soul like you and me. It doesn’t know right from wrong.”
“Will I go to heaven if I die?” R asked.
“If you believe in Jesus, you will.”
I don’t know to what extent she believes what she says or whether she does know Jesus, but it was amazing to see conscience at work. After killing the snail, the girls were feeling guilty and sad about it. With a bit of guidance, I showed them we could at least give it a dignified death to show we were sorry for what we did. Also, by not brushing this off as meaningless child play, we were able to dig a bit deeper into life and death.