Thankless Job

Sunita Giri 7:58 PM |


“....These Balmandir Children are never ever going to thank us, for whatever we do to them.” She raged. She has such harsh and mean voice even if she says something good, her  words do not agree with her mean voice; but when she is angry it will stamped in the mind with  you forever.

As a growing up child in an orphanage this is one line that have heard many times so it some how got struck in my mind forever. This line will never ever leave me nor my shadow. It came, again and again and again in the many more years to come from the same lady with whom, I am still in touch; this way or that way. The lady, hails from a well to do family. Lets call her Mrs. Shrestha, was the senior officer in the orphanage where I have stayed in the early part of my life, starting from the age three, until I was almost about 17 years old.

After more than 20 years, when I was having a casual conversation, with one of my childhood friend about that line; she pulled me back in my memory lane. Mrs. Shrestha had called us, all the big girls in her office. Girls who were studying in the  8, 9 and 10 class were the big girls. We were about 10-15 girls, standing nervously, in her office.

Once we were all settled in front of her big office, she started lecturing us to be thankful, if they do some thing good to us.

The good deed, she meant is which she did by sending one of the big girl in foreign country as an adopted child. She was about 16, and normally people of that age rarely finds his/her way to foreign land, obviously for the age factor.

One French family had came forward to take her to their home. She thrusted the letter on her table and then angrily pressed it with her forefinger, which Sharmila Lama*, ( the adopted girl )  had written to one of her close friend.

“ these girls make our job very thankless, right !”  she turned to her colleagues for their approval, who were  also called in her office. They seemed to be agreeing with her for that. Then she started reading some lines of the letter.  More she read it aloud for us more it made her feel uneasy, uncomfortable and disgusted. One of the reason is that the writers Nepali was a lot better than the readers’.

In that letter, she had cursed herself for being an orphan and more than that being in a foreign land from where she could not run nor hide herself. She could not help herself from the situation that was going through in her life. How helpless she was to help herself. In some part of the letter she was very vague, which was very intentional; as she knew that her letter will be read by her first, before it makes, its way to the one she had written.
That letter was the main reason, I along with other girls, were standing in front of her; in her office. The meeting dismissed after a brief but bitter and harsh lecture, to the bunch of young girls to be mature and act more responsibly and most importantly, learn to be thankful.

That meeting was nothing unique in any other way, as we girls used to find ourselves in front of her or one of the other officers for this or that reason. But that line stamped in my young mind; forever.

Again, after about 2 decades later, another  casual conversation with one of my other childhood friend from the orphanage, unfolded the truth behind the letter. Why Sharmila Lama, was compelled to write that letter and had cursed herself and was not happy; even finding herself in foreign land.

Should not an orphan be happy with that kind of sudden kick in her life ?  The vary question raised by Mrs. Shrestha, when we were young enough to understand the gravity of the situation that surrounded us ?

During her teenage period Sharmila Lama was a very beautiful, fair complex, a Mongolian petite girl,  not more than 5” tall. She did not have the parents or we do not know the real story behind them. Yes, as far as I can remember, she had very beautiful and petite like her with too many wrinkles on her face,an old grandmother. Her meagre pay which she was getting as a house maid, could not support her two grandchildren and another reason was her age. At that time she was working in one of the posh area of the city, who frequently visited her grand daughter.

Besides her good looks, she was the most talented person; I have ever seen in my life. She was very good on painting, water color painting is what she used to do as a teenager. Every Nepali New Year she used to get the painting done and her art piece; used to get the special position in a very prominent area, where all the visitors whoever entered our rooms could see it. Art and creative, were her strongest point; she was exceptionally good on these two areas. She was an average student. But her English was not that good as compared to Nepali and keeping her age in mind, she was really good in expressing her emotions on papers.

As told to her close friend and confidant, when they both were teenagers. She had shared it with her, during her very rare visit to Nepal. She was not the one to whom she had written the letter in her youth, when she was a captive and her pain was very much raw.

The true story behind the letter goes like this.
The year may have been around 1985 -1986, when she appeared for S.L.C but she could not make it. One French family came forward to adopt her, when she was taken to their home, then only she realized how much of a foster child she was. The French family, needed a foster child as a free household help. She was not only cooking, cleaning the house and taking care of his two children she was also helping them  in their studies.

What was even more disturbing to swallow was, as if all the household work she was doing was not enough for the family, she was used by the man as for his lust too. The man used to tie her hands and feet on the bed sides, so she wont be in a position to oppose him as and when he raped her, repeatedly. As if that much was not enough to her. The man started talking of sharing her with his other friends too. That scared her to death.

When the children left for school and couple for their job, she was locked in that house. She hardly have any contact with other people in her neighbourhood.

One fine day, however it was the children, of the rapist/abuser, who let her go from her prison like life, from that hell-house.

Not knowing, what to do and where to go in that unknown city and territory. On top of that she could hardly communicate with anyone with her poor French. What went on with her recently in her life had really terrified her. It was hard time for her to figure out who is good and who is bad, whom to trust and whom not to. She wanted to die for sure or commit suicide to kill herself. She went to the nearby beach, where she thought of throwing herself into the sea. It looked easy to her, rather facing the cruel life and not knowing what awaited her ahead.

It was evening time and she still was not sure about suicide by throwing in the sea water. She was blankly staring at the water. Hours went by that way.

Coincidentally, there was a man, who was watching her from a safe distance, who somehow seem to he sensing, there was something troubling her. She was up to something but he was not sure, what. Slowly and cautiously, he approached her and took her confidence to open up with him and talk about what was troubling her.

Luckily, the man was a Nepali, which was one of the reason, helped open her open up in that foreign land. That man also happened to be a lawyer, practicing in France. Then the rest, as they say is history. He took the case, into the court and shook the French family's’  normal concept of foster child, that existed in some peoples mind. The lawyer, who took her case fought for her and won the case. The abuser lost it and also fall from the grace in his society, in his own country.

Of course, it did shook the country terribly. Scared a bit to those who did adopted child specially from Nepal for a real good reason but other people still doubted their intentions, which did caused trouble to some kind hearted people, as well as the children they had adopted.

Suman Dahal, who is another guy, fostered by another French nationals; when he too was bit older - about 14 - 16 years of age - for adoption, shared with me during his  recent visit about her latest news. They are in touch on annual basis or as permitted by events that bring close to foster child and parents in France. Today, Nirmala Lama, still lives in France. She is in the fashion industry. She enjoys very good salary and position, very few people, make it there. She does visit Nepal, specially to visit her brother and her family, but its very limited.

She never married. That scar on her teen mind and body was too much for her to bear.


2 comments:

Nepsy said...

is a truly touching incident ... ... Ms Lama was a good girl and at the end god took care of her....thanks to the lawyer who rescued her at the right time...it's all about Karma at the End. You do good, you will end up happy......

Sunita Giri said...

You have no knowledge how much I appreciate your comment. This is the kind of understanding I was hoping for. At least there are people who read it and get the true meaning of it also. Did you read my recent post, the follow up on this same story under the title of Prostitute who ? This new post might help you to understand, why I appreciate your comment.

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