He sits on the ground alone – wearing only pants and a hat. Both are red. His beard and ears are covered with moss.
A woman walking by, sees him propped against the doorway and says, “He looks kinda sad – looks kinda dirty.” A man glances over and says, “He’s not hurting anybody; he’s just chillin’ there.”
Then a woman approaches the building on her way into work. She says the character on the ground was there when she went home last night. We assume he hasn’t left – he’s been waiting all night.
The videographer starts taking pictures from a respectful distance. As he zooms in on blue skin and unblinking eyes, another woman passing by says, “There’s something about their eyes I guess. Eyes are the windows to the soul.”
I should probably mention I’m talking about a giant, stuffed Poppa Smurf. It’s been abandoned beside a Money Mart near the intersection where Fort, Pandora and Oak Bay Avenue collide. The videographer and I had been driving around looking for a story for the end of the six o’clock news, when we spotted him.
“Poor guy – I feel sorry for him.” Mona is the first person we meet who seems to be genuinely concerned for the stranded stuffie’s well-being. “Can I take him home?”
I ask why? She walks over to the Smurf, crouches down beside it and starts gently brushing away the dirt that’s covering it. “I will wash him. I will care for him. And I will adopt him.” Then she looks into his plastic eyes, smiles and coos, “Hi baby.”
I ask Mona what kind of life she would give the Smurf. She says he could join the four other stuffed characters she lives with, including the Bugs Bunny she received for her fifth birthday.
And then Mona starts to cry, “I’m so far away from my mom and dad.” She says they are on the other side of the world. While she is earning a Masters of Education in Leadership Studies at UVic, her family remains in Pakistan. “I can feel the feeling of this poor guy when he’s away from home,” Mona admits. “Because I’m away from home.”
Mona picks up the Poppa Smurf. She hugs him and smiles. “I will provide him a new home and he will feel good.” As we watch them walk away – his arms wrapped around her – the woman says she is happy to have a Smurf. And the Smurf – once abandoned, now embraced – is no doubt happy to have a Mona.
Adam Sawatsky is an anchor-reporter at CTV News Vancouver Island. On the weekend, he hosts ‘Eye on the Arts’ on CFAX 1070.