Aina is a story about a 10-year-old girl, Aina, who after her father's death has been forced to take on too much responsibility. Her mother has taken the loss of her husband very poorly and can no longer see her children through her own sorrow. As a result, Aina has become the head of the family. The play follows Aina's domestic and school life. At school, adults aren't doing much better than at home. Teachers are forced to take leave because of exhaustion, and temporary teachers are hired to replace them. The new teacher for Aina's class, however, is not your average temp. He manages to reorganise things. Or at least tries very hard to do so. The same can be said of Aina and her brother Aarre's new neighbour, who is in some ways very strange, yet fascinating. The play also follows Aina's classmates Kalle and Jenni, from whose lives adults and especially parents have in one way or another been missing. Aina is a story about our age of adultlessness, where increasingly many children are lost, living with too much responsibility. In this play, however, the security is ultimately given by an adult. Whose job, of course, it should also be. Aina's poetic language and structure leaves plenty of space for different interpretations and directorial decisions. It is a play written for the whole family, and as such meant for parents to watch together with their children.
The play premiered at the Helsinki City Theatre on March 20, 2009. The play won the 2009 Lea Award for the best Finnish play of the year. The award jury noted: "In this year's competition, Aina excelled with its openness and with what it leaves unsaid. From this year's nominations, it is easiest to direct and the least dictated by the author, not forcing any specific rendition of the text in performance. Aina will surely provide the basis for a wide variety of interpretations, while the performances from other texts will resemble one another in more detail. "Aina's advantage is also its fantasy, inexplicable nature and its fable-like qualities. In its beauty and lyricism it is both funny and painful, the topic extremely sad, but also one that is resolved by life and the great love of everyday life." Aina was also named the year's Theatre Achievement for Children or Youth as chosen by the Association of Finnish Theatres. The award jury wrote: "Kati Kaartinen's Aina is a children's plea about the importance of adults. It is an important societal statement. The play brings up a difficult and current societal topic: children suffering from loneliness since adults are too busy, leaving too little intimacy and caring adults in children's lives. The theme chosen by Aina is brave, and the play succeeds brilliantly in tackling it. Children and youth require the time and presence of parents and other close adults in order to be well and to safely grow up into adulthood. "Aina's target audience, preadolescent children, is extremely challenging for theatres; they are often left out as they cannot enjoy the fairytale performances produced for younger children, but are not yet ready for plays written for adults. Aina excels in connecting with its target audience, but it is surely able to touch audiences of any generation."