Street Language

Sunita Giri 9:50 PM |

I could have been around ten or eleven years old when Bal Mandir, cleansed Pashupati area for the homeless and the child depending on them. Most of their children landed in Bal Mandir, at that time. When they came, they came with one more language, other than that of being horrible potty mouthed. It was street language.

It took us, some time to understand thier language first and then learn their language, but every body knows it; children learn and copy fast, and faster than adult can imagine. This fast learning applies so truly, in case of language.

This street language, just allowed us to say the nastiest things, to the Didis [room nannies], housemothers and other roommates or class mates, who took time to learn this language, than some of us.

This allowed, us to say, she is bitch, she is fat, she us ugly or he is just too smelly, right on the face of the person; yet the person would not know, what we were talking about. They would only get the hint of it, when we took pride in laughing after that. Then, it was fun. Do I have to tell you, how much it irritated them; when we took pride in being potty mouthed and they did not get it what we were talking about.

In this language, we used to take any letter followed by a vowel sound and then we used to make a new word with this, adding that in front of each broken word. Suppose: She is bitch, would become like this, sa-she sa-is sa-b sa-itch. In the beginning, the learning process, would take time, but once you get fluent with it, we used to speak it like anything and more, we became fluent more it used to be a problem for adults.

First we took time in learning this new language but once we did this, we made our own different code language, with different letter and sound but the choice is yours. How hard you want to make it. The most hard to get it then was starting from Cha. Suppose, we wanted to call somebody, slut on the face, then we had to say it like cha-slu-cha-ta.

I don’t know, how come, they learned such language but this is the kind of language the drug dealers or the street thugs use to talk when police are around them. This kind of language is also spoken by criminal people, who are involved in some kind of racket business and can speak in front of police and yet they don’t get it, what they are talking about.

When I look back, it really makes me wonder, why those children were fluent in that kind of language ? Okay, their parents must have been involved in some kind of criminal act. One more core point which, I must have mistaken until now, those children were not from Pashupati area, instead they must been from the jail clearance, who were staying with their parent[s] and so, they learned those language. But you know what, I am surprised that, not a policeman have ever called me, to help them to decode any criminals code language.
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How can you eat it ?

Sunita Giri 9:52 PM |

Now, whenever I watched Andrew Zimmern, tasting Bizzare foods from around the world; it pulls me back in my own memory lane. Although, I too make the face or switch the channel, if its so hard for me to watch more; when he is saying, its yummy or its delicious, when I see him eating foods, I will never ever try in my life. But then there was a time, I myself faced the question, how can you eat it ?

Junkiri asked me exactly when, I was about to eat it, “how can you eat it ? I have heard that, there is, this small black insect in it .”

“Yes I know, but Shova didi made this.” I said and took a spoonful of puwa in my mouth and then to ease it down my throat, I sipped some tea. She made her face with disgust, and then asked me again, “How can you eat it ?”

“I can, because its so delicious and tasty.” then I took another big spoonful of it and then again sipped some tea to ease it to swallow. See, Puwa is very dry food in itself and needs some liquid to have it, otherwise its not easy to swallow it down the throat.

I could have been studying in eighth grade and around forteen. It was afternoon time, time for a day time snacks. Generally we are suppose to go down in the main kitchen and finish our ‘khaja’ there. But because it was winter vacation time and we are big girls and in our teens. So, we used to smuggle the food in our rooms and then used to have it, there with our roommates, chatting and taking our time to finish it.

So, on this particular day, I was sitting on that small space in front of the window and eating my snacks. That window faced the front yard. That was the very small space, where only two of my age girls, could stay and chat. Just on the right side of me, there was a row of beds [bunker] and one was facing the window, there on the lower bed, Junkiri was lying on her belly and watching me eat my khaja, which of course was ‘Puwa’.

Puwa is a kind of food for which, flour is fried on high heated fat first and then, some water is added and sugar from on top of it but sugar had to melt in the food not be seen onece its ready, its still very dry food even after its ready. The flour is what American agency used to send NCO, as part of nutritious food and that used to rule almost all our snacks and breakfast, with very few exceptions.

“Why don’t you put all of it, in that tea and then eat it ?” Junkiri, suggested me, still making her face in a creased form.

“No, I wont do that” I retorted, “cant you see, if I do that all the black insect will float on top of tea, and this will spoil my mood to eat it ?” She nodded but her face is still in creased form, which made me smile and be angry at the same time.

I took one more mouthful of puwa and took some sip of tea, and watched Junkiri, made her face, creased. Watching her made this easy, for me to read her face, it was not easy for her, to watch me eating my food.

“Are not you hungry ?” I asked her, “I was....” she replied and said again “.... but when I heard about it, I lost my appetite.”
Again I filled my spoonful and about to reach it on my mouth but the look of Junkiri forced me to bring it down on my cup. “Look, I am eating my food and you are making that look, its not good.” I confronted her. “And you are eating all insected puwa, saying its made by Shova Didi, is also hard to believe, delicious or not; it still has those insects in it”, she had readymade answer for that.

Now, it was kind of war between her and me, she was amazed that I could eat it and I was shocked, that she did not respect the fact, I was eating it without any complaint. “Look food has to be delicious and tasty first, then the insect or other things is secondary matter, can other didis make this good food, without any insect in it ?” I asked her. She nodded her head meaning ‘No’. “So, her times comes, once in a week only, and if I give it a miss, I have to wait for this good and tasty food for whole next week.”

And then, I took a last spoonful of my puwa and watched her face again. She was really surprised that I finished my meal, knowing it had all the small black insect in it.

Needless to tell, for her, no insect made more importance; than the taste of foods. You know what, that food which I devoured was a lot more delicious and tasty, than other didis may have made, without any insects in it. So its clear, for me, its the taste of a food that matters; not what is inside of it.

I am sure, once in their life, everybody must have faced this question, how can you eat it ?

Note: you can read about locked up to know more about Junkiri Tamang and Me on I am not Alone to find out how we landed in Bal Mandir.
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Thank you

Sunita Giri 10:35 PM |

As a teenager I used to read a question in many movie magazines, which used to go like this : who would you be, if you are given a chance to be the person you want to be ? The option would vary as magazines vary. They used to give options like, in next 24 hours, in a month or in your next lifetime. I used read the question with a very blank look and I was clueless in my heart, besides I could never come up with the exact answer, when I was young.

My response was to stare this question with a cat’s look. There used to be all kind of response, I used to read the odd and absurd answers from readers in response who used to respond the question, saying I want to be the poodle of a celebrity, in my next lifetime as I get a chance to be patted with beautiful people and be in so many nice places and eat good food and kiss the girls the whole world loves to.

To some my blankness might be the sign of me being from very privileged background, that's why, I would not want to be or would not have to be some body else even for a day forget about whole lifetime. Well that is some thing I am not, its quite sure; but there are reasons, why I don't would not want to be any body but me, myself; in many more lifetimes to come. Perhaps for that very reason my brain never worked better to imagine; Who I would like to be in my life for next year and in my next life.

This next life, kept me thinking though for quite some time yet I was clueless who and what; I would like to be in my next life ?

In fact, I am thankful to God, that, I don’t belong to any family; which comes from broken relationship and so the heart is broken, spirit is broken and house is broken. Yes, I did not get a chance to see my biological parents and the tragedy happened when I was just too young [only 3 years old] to understand the gravity of the word tragedy. I am thankful to God I was young to see their face and be attached to them or perhaps be habituated to them. Yes, I grew up in an orphanage [Bal Mandir]. But; my parents could not have been able to provide me that big palace to stay and equally big ground to play.

There were people around us to do the work for us, I did not have to cook and spend time in kitchen until I finished my School. I doubt I could have got the same easy life anywhere else. I like the freedom of not having parents around me. In fact; I regard parents as control freaks, and honestly speaking, don’t want them around me for many more of my lifetimes not just this one. I am not jealous, of those people; who have and what they have because of having parents around. Never ever, missed them and wished; if only I have them and my life would have been different. I only wish I could have understood it when I was in my teens or in my 20s and so that I could have enjoyed my life with the full freedom rather seeing this it from very different perspective which was never mine and not knowing, it was not even mine; instead it was injected.

This believe was an injection, an idea I grew up hearing in the Bal Mandir. Today, I am thankful that those didis [room nannies] who believed that we were cursed and that is the reason, we have to spend our lifetime in Bal Mandir, away from our loved ones and not in the lap of mother. Besides those didis, there were those male staffs, mainly cooks and other junior male staffs, who nodded and added to the core believe, holded by the ladies.

Thank God ! they are not related to me; not even remotely. There were people, mostly some ladies around me; I grew up with, their mothering only smothered me and their concern about us, then it discomforted me but now I know it, why. It only suffocated me [us] to the max, though as a teenager I did not knew about this smothering and suffocation; now, when I know this, I am so thankful to God.

I honestly think; I would have run away from family, if people were so control freaks, and telling me to do this and do that; just the way they wanted it. Thank God ! I am saved from those run aways. As a teenager, I hated lectures from anybody directed towards me, and I walked away from it. The housemothers thought, I was impossible child, now I get it, that it was Gods’ wish, that I hear none of it, other wise why do not I have parents ? I was orphan, they were the one who is ignoring the fact and it was not me. God; how I wish, they could have got it earlier than me. Its Gods willingness; we [orphans] are free from any lecture[s].

I feel truly and honestly feel sorry for them, for those who grew up hearing all those do this, and do that and don’t do that and No, No for this and definitely ‘NO WAY’ for that. Thank God, I can do what I like, and not answerable to anyone for any thing. If something goes wrong with me they say I don’t listen any one but I did not created the line, which says, too many cooks, spoils the food.

There were many woman; I grew up watching, but not wishing they were my mom. Thank God ! they were not my mom. I think, some things in life, like warm clothes on the body, education in good school and decent and warm food on the table is also not worth it, if it means to give up my liberty to do, what I want and how I want, not even parents, who are official naggers and try to control you the way they want. And for this very reason I am ever thankful to God.

There is this famous line in Bollywood, which has been used for so many times, and years later also; its still has the same charm, and as new as it was yesterday. “Aaj mere paas building hai, gaadi hai, bank balance hai. Tumhare pas kya hai. Kya hai tumhare pas ? ……………. Mere pas … Maa Hai.” [Today, I have a house, a car, a bank balance and what do you have ? .............. I have Mom].

I have to, twist it slightly; as per my situation. First i would like to request them repeate the question again please and then who ever things its so important to have parents and thinks, “I have parents, house, warm clothes and food on my table and went to best college........what do you have ? ......I have Bernhard.” But the truth is I have not got a chance to use this line. I still feel it; so strongly.

I am thankful to God for sending Bernhard in my life. Life is a package deal, what you have is all you have; so its your decision how you take it. If I had all those things, I would not have Bernhard and having him pales having all other things. Damn, I did not get it right on time ! I mean in my teen years but still, I kneel down and bow my head on the floor, to say my thank you to God for the choice you made for me; and your decision to send Bernhard in my life.
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The lost smile

Sunita Giri 9:45 PM |

Mrs. Shrestha, the chairwoman of the Prabina Foundation, Nepal, repeatedly passes comments that Amrisha and Era has very ‘sullen face’ and they never smile, “I don't understand, why they have such face” she wonders, every time she pass that comment.

First time, when she passed that comments, it must have gone above my head. Second time when she made the same remark; it stayed in my mind and and third time when she repeated the smile less face it made me think.

I have to be honest, I do not visit Prabina Home, as frequently as she does. But by that third comments, I have visited and interacted with the girls and I did not find them, that ‘sulleln face’. Visiting Prabina home reminds me of my own time in Bal Mandir, we were just like that. ignorant of the people around us.

Vira*, Amrisha and Era are three sisters. Vira, being the oldest one now attends college, while other two sisters are still in school.

Their mother, Nira, is a single mother. I know her, since she was with us in Bal Mandir. When she was only in seventh grade, she was pulled from Bal Mandir, by her aunt to assist them in domestic work. Then again during my college days, Mrs. Shrestha made me to share one that too very narrow room, with her and her young child and her younger sister for about 6 months. Nira, already had her first daughter by then. Now, when I complain about it to her she gets stunned or perhaps stung. Finance was the major reason I was sharing room with them. After that, I know her updates through our big circle of friends. Even though, we are not in contact for long, yet we do get full information about each other from this or that person.

All her immediate circles, who ever; she is in touch knows, Nira’s three daughter are from three different men. This information, made easy for most of them to judge her as very characterless woman. However, It was not easy for Nira, to raise her three girls. She was not well educated or trained to support her as well as her three young daughters. When the situation turned out to be like this, she did all kind of domestic work to keep food on her plate as well as her three girls.

Nira, comes from a family of five, her parents and two sisters. She is the middle one. Their father died within a month of their mother’s death. After the incident, Nira and her younger sister Seetu was enrolled in Bal Mandir, however their eldest sister was kept as a domestic maid by their aunt. This kind of arrangements at times made easier for the close relatives to have full hands on the property single handedly.

During Nira’s hard days, off all the domestic works, doing laundry was one of the thing she did most, and at times cleaning rooms also. When her daughters were young they used to follow her at work place also.

My fear, behind the lost smile or repressed memories of these two girls is; it could have been that; they have seen something, which they should not have seen at that age. Amrisha, was about 8-9, when she was enrolled in Reliance School supported by Prabina Foundation. Era, was about six when she had followed her middle sister in the school. Vira, their oldest sister was already studying in Reliance School under the same project.

Now, both of the younger sisters are in Prabina House, however Vira has already left the house and studying in Delhi. For younger girls staying in a hostel, with girls of their age has not changed much of their behaviour. They don’t open up like other girls and they don’t smile like others as well. One might see them smiling occasionally, but sure, it lacks the luster of a child's smile and twinkle in their eyes.

Their is one more fear in my mind, which is of course; bigger than, what I exactly fear already. I fear that, they not only have seen some thing wrong; but some of the man their mother was involved must have done something horrible [immoral or unethical act] to them. Therefore, these two girls have locked themselves up. Look, I am not a psychologist to come up; exact answer to this kind of behaviour but labeling them as very unwelcoming face or sullen face is grossly ignoring the past, they share with their mother.

Its just that I know, some very inside story about their mother. Strangely; it was Vira, her oldest daughter, who let the cat out of bag, about her mother’s private life [bedroom] as well as her aunt’s. When she she was talking about all this, she was only about eight or nine years old.

Its easy to shrug shoulders and definitely not easy to try to figure it out, some answers behind the lost smile and twinkle in their eyes. Amrisha and Era are the only girls, who are very poor in their studies among the twenty plus group of girls in the hostel [Prabina Home]. When other girls gets 60% or more than that on their report card. These two girls, hardly finish their exams without failing that too on more than two subjects, with poorest marks on all other subjects; even if they make it.

This year, Amrisha was enrolled in a Nepali medium school; due to her poor grades. Era will follow her soon to the same school. Just wondering, how come these two are the poorest in their study too and who can not open up like a normal teenagers with other girls and their smile is also missing from their face.

Some people presume that, if they provide food, shelter and clothes, it will bring the drastic change. Yes it will, who knows this better than me. What if the problem is rooted on the mind of a child ? then will those things [food, shelter & clothe] solve the main problem ?

Surprisingly and perhaps interestingly, Vira the oldest sister was good on her studies and now, she is pursuing her study in nursing and doing well in her college also. She too had seen it all, and been there. Vira has proved it that, some can take some extremes, just as normal and to some the same thing has extreme impact. But we cant ask why they could not take it so easily.

*All names are changed to protect privacy.
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God’s justice

Sunita Giri 9:17 PM |

Last Friday night, I was watching this regret and recover, a dramatised version of a ex-criminal’s story. A doctor, by the day and a kidnappers and looters by the dark. He also used to publish a daily paper; where his photographers was also a sharp shooter, and other staff was involved in his work. One day he got caught and then landed in Tihar jail, which is very notorious mainly, because the kind of inmates they allots to keep here. There in the jail they bring swami to preach criminals. Its impact on this particular criminal was really surprising, who in fact was planning to escape, from this most secure jail of India and was wanting to continue his work outside of the bar. But, one of his inmates persuaded him to attend and listen the preaching. While relating one story swami called this person and demanded his undivided attention before telling this story. This really struck me.

Greed : there was a soldier, who was leaving the village to fight for his country. Before leaving to protect his country, from the front line; he left some big cash to one of his village businessman and told him to invest it in some good work and then also provide his families as per their need. But immediate after the man left, the news came, that he died; while fighting for his country. This made the businessman greedy and he did not give a penny to his family members and spoke no one about this money. Some time later a child was born to the businessman, but the child was severely ill by birth. They were rich, so they could spend any amount of money on their child's’ illness and did everything; that was possible to keep baby healthy and alive. Some time passed by like this but the child’s health never got any better. One day, the child smiled and died. Before his death he said, “I have taken, what I have left with you, and now its time for me to go.”

This story reminded me of another real life story, which one of my friend, recently had told me. The recent and current update about a man, Arjun Basnet, who was a staff in Bal Bandir. He was a very greedy storekeeper, who also had a serious character problem. Besides that he was a childless man also. After several attempt to have his own child, he had adopted a boy from Bal Mandir.

His boy had grown now and have became a drug addict. The house, which he had build from stealing foods stuffs from Bal Mandir or purchasing cheap, low quality fruit and vegetables and clothes for us had all gone to his son’s addiction. They are now staying at a rented apartment. Some people here in Nepal not only adopt, to pour all the love they feel, but there is also one more reason behind the adoption. People need one person to take care of them, when they get old. Arjun Basnet, the father of the boy is definitely not going to enjoy the secure and peaceful retired life, when he gets old and needs it most.

The swami’s line is ringing in my ear, ‘if you take it from others, it will be gone just like that.’ So Greed is bad. Remember this same story also has impacted as a mile stone in this particular criminals minds. He is now a social worker and out of his criminals world - murder, kidnapping and looting people. He gives more and even goes out to meet to those, whose life he once had made hell !

When my friend, told me the story about the storekeeper, she did not missed out to add that; “he had stolen from us, so a boy from Bal Mandir, took all from him. This is Gods’ justice.” After hearing her verdict; I could only stare at her silently.

Note : to get more stores about the store keeper read our earlier post on him : SSSShhhhh don’t tell, Greed has no depth.
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A thief

Sunita Giri 10:53 PM |

It was Saturday afternoon, cleaning day of the week, for every body. Bathing and washing dresses have already been finished and sun drying our beds and blankets have also finished. So we were back of the kitchen garden which was located at the Statue yard. Because its time for us to clean our head, from our room nanny. It was one of the most painful task. They used to use very sharp hand made bamboo comb specially designed for this task to pull the head bugs and at times it used to made bloody scars on our head. Needless to mention, it used to bring tears in our eyes due to sharp pain. If we seek any opportunity to avoid the cleaning process, it should not surprise any adult.

I was not the exceptionally clean one, in the group, not needing that cleaning but I needed to escape from it, due to tear jerking process to clean our heads. Just then Moti Didi, came to rescue me. Its not that she could voice against me with nannies, but she needed my help for one task, and that work helped me to get out from, my turn of the cleaning my head. If my room nanny saw them borrowing me then they would not allow me to sneak out from this so, she pretended that she is checking her clothes; whether its dried or not but her intention was not to check her dress, she gave a gentle nudge on my head with her hand and as I looked up she spoke with her eyes to follow her. I did quietly sneaked from the place and then followed Moti Didi, meekly. On the way, we were joined by one more person but I do not, remember her name as in future also Moti didi, was the only one with whom I kept doing this work. ‘Work’ may be the wrong word here to use, in fact I was about to involve in an act of theft.

There was this room, when I grew up then I came to know, that it was a storeroom for the Magazine ‘Balak’, which NCO used to publish every month. Then again the word storeroom does not suit here exactly. Old stocks of magazine used to be dumped in that room from the upstairs storeroom and mouse used to run all over it down under.

I could have been around ten years old and I needed at least two more persons help to climb on the window, which glass pane was broken and from where I could enter in the room. The pane was so small that first, I had to insert my head to enter in that room and then my body. Moti Didi used to give me instruction to look for a particular story in that magazine or the color code of the magazine and then I had to look for those particular magazines under the piles of dust covered room.

In that room, there were not a single space available where I could keep my feet without stepping on top of book and the books were thick enough on the floor, and on the stairs which let it to top floor, it took me, many years to thin it out. I never asked them what they did with this magazines, or I was just too small to ask them, “why they needed it ?” Their pay for my work was like a prize money, which was more than enough. All I asked for was to let me read all, I mean all the old stocks of magazines from each steal, which they agreed easily. Old publication was ten times better than the latest publications in terms of story, paper quality and binding point of view. After reading it, I used to return it to her. Later on as I grew more, I came to know that, she and the others who were involved in this kind of act used to sell magazines to their class mate at Rs 1. per magazine.

I think she and the other who was involved in this case was selling just the old stocks of magazine for their pocket money. There was particularly demand of a magazine, which contained a story about Rupa and Raju’s story. It made all the readers cry, yet they loved to read it. Some of the boys and girls were involved in selling sneakers and clothes, which of course was donated by big organizations, of course stolen from the storeroom’s and at times from their own room mates.
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Two Travellers

Sunita Giri 10:43 PM |

When I was young, occasionally, housemothers and nannies used to encourage us to do something, as we wish during the Saturday evening, before our sleep. People used to take part in it voluntarily. Some liked to do group dance, some body used to sing, some liked citing poems and some telling story and some took part in small drama. But most of the people liked it watching from and then commenting. I do remember loud claps, after each performance.

There were, no shortage of audience for such shows in Bal Mandir. For this, one of the biggest room was used and bed served as seats and front of the remaining space served as stage, as well as seating huge crowed. Mostly those shows used to be, more than houseful, it was overcrowded and some really had to let their head only in the room, where the show was going on.

What I remember now is, this small drama, my brother had performed with the help of his friend, Basanta. He could have been around twelve years then.

Both of the boys appeared on the scene, both of them were carrying some package. carrying package would be very wrong words to use here. In fact they were carrying something, which was packed on the cloth and its top was tied with the help of some rope, so it looked almost round shape - its called potali. Besides it was also tied on, one side of a long stick, which rested on their shoulder while they walked, it seemed that, it made the carrying process easy. It must have been the copy scene of Hindi movie, however; I doubt, that we had exposed to Hindi movie then.

These two young boys, were acting as travelers, who were traveling from one place to other, who happened to encounter at the night stay point, both were spending. Before they went for a sleep, they had their meal together from their respective potali and also had a small chat.

Sukdev asked, “do you make noise while you are sleeping ?”
Basanta asked, “what kind of noise ?”
Sukdev responded, “ I mean snort or some thing like that.
Basanta replied, “no, I am the kind of very noiseless person when I sleep.”
Sukdev, “Oh, but when I sleep they say, I make noise, its something like munching you know, so when you hear that in your sleep; just ignore it. And one more thing, I have to leave tomorrow much early, perhaps earlier than you also, so lets go to bed. So they went to sleep.

While Basanta, was deep in his sleep, Sukdev was eating the food from Basanta’s potali. Basant, mumbled from his sleep, in a groggy voice, “what is this noise ?” Sukdev, replied, “Oh, that my sleep sound.” He was munching food -beaten rice - with over exaggerated facial expressions, so we would understand what he was doing, which made us laugh.

The next day, when Basanta woke up, he found out that his food was missing which his wife had made him for the trip. He pretended a bewildered look, in most possible way, which made us laugh even more on his stupidity.
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My pride, my passion

Sunita Giri 11:11 PM |

This year, winter season did not crept slowly, but it seems it came with a jump. This is the beginning of November, not December to be so cold here in Kathmandu. I am quite not sure how cold its going to be, in the late December and beginning of the January this year. I can only guess and prepare for the worst.

Unlike for others, for me winter is; a long day as I have the habit of staying till late to give a complete look to the new work I start. I do knitting as soon as the winter creeps in. In fact, saying I do knitting is not fair , knitting is my passion & pride too. Its my favorite pass time also, which helps me to get rid from stress; so knitting is kind of a meditation for me, it works as a stress buster also. During winter season, when I watch my favorite programs on television, most of the time I find myself knitting. For me watching television and doing nothing is pure waste of time.

Its really hard for me now, to remember how young I was, when I started knitting; I could have been as young as eight years old or younger than that. When I started knitting I started broom stick as a needle and the wool. I [we] get a chance to work thrown by others only and it must have been joined from hundreds of places, but we used to wear those hairbands and mufflers anyway. We have made it, so the satisfaction of wearing those things, was thousand percent higher, than the one; which could have from the best designers of the world or high priced goods.

Now, if you give me small balls of five different shades, my mind instantly stars working, how I will use those colors and blend it, into beautiful designs. However I was not much appreciative about the beauties of rainbow colors, then, we are not happy about that rainbow designs, instead it reminds me [us] that I was growing up in Bal Mandir. I [we] grew up, doing the needle work on umbrella, then barn yard wires. It was not easy to make our custom designs needles, from those available sources, but still we did it.

Who had money to buy needles or new ball of wool ? It was years later only, I got a chance to knit on real needles but while learning it was okay. One more good thing while learning knitting was its late 70s or the early eighties, so there was not much television to distract us to to waste time much. We used to do this during long winter vacation, like all others I started making hairbands and then mufflers as these two are the easiest to make one.

Being able to convert a thread, into a dress is some thing gives me so much satisfaction and pride too. I, not only get a chance to pick up my choice of color, but pattern for it and then design for a sweater. I knit, all kinds of woolen wears, like sweaters, even if I really don't need one. I have to see, the design, that comes in my head. As soon as it comes in my mind and have to see it in real and touch it and feel it also. Its not that I can come up new designs for sweaters, every year. Some times its time for caps or dozens of new bandannas or try out new patterns or designs for mufflers. If there is nothing to do and make new one, I make woolen socks, even if I already have one, for every day. All I have to do, is to knit.

I have so many caps and mufflers and socks and bandannas and of course sweaters too. Normally, I give it to my friends, who are nice and kind to me. Usually, I give them small items, like mufflers, caps and bandannas. Everybody appreciates my work and designs and color blending so much. They speak very highly of my talent and skill, but if they want some of my designs, they find it very expensive and choose not to pay for it. So, now I have a huge collections of woolen wears.

After reading Loren Cunningham, on his book ‘Daring to live on the Edge’, to give and not ruling out giving, even if I myself at the receiving end, gave me an idea, to give those stocks to a charity. Yesterday, I went to a church, which is in my area and gave some bandannas, caps, mufflers and tubes.

I also remember, a line from Rich Dad Poor Dad, God does not need to receive, but we need to give, so before next Saturday, I am going to give a dozen sweaters also. It so happened that church runs an orphanage also with about 15 children. Rajan Neupane, the Church Leader asked me, “is it for children ?” I responded, “Yes, but sorry for sweaters, because they are big enough, suitable adults only” then I added, “but those caps, bandanna and mufflers can be sued by all age people.” I am sure there are some adults, who needs to wear some decent sweaters during this winter; when the winter is so ruthless than before. Or, this is some thing I am thinking, but I keep asking people around me and then they agree with me, that this winter is very cold and it has not even started yet.
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Injected Fear

Sunita Giri 10:12 PM |

It was around late 1988, when Bal Mandir had celebrated, its silver Jubilee. Main focus of this celebration, was a reunion with all ex-Bal Mandir inmates; many have started their own family and already have multiplied also. The event was organized by the Nepal Children Organization and the get-to-gather program was held in the Bal Mandir, itself.

I was freshly out from Bal Mandir, it could have been about 6 months. On that particular day as I was taking a stroll at the office areas of Bal Mandir, when Urmila Didi, who was also an office staff in NCO, dragged some of her age women to introduce me. I have never seen them before. She introduced them saying, “meet her, she is Sunita; by far to my knowledge, she is the only girl, who is not afraid of Kedar Shrestha [ the housemother].”

There must have been other conversations, which I can not remember now. However that introduction, with her mention was very true. Unlike other children of the Bal Mandir, I saw no reason to be afraid of her. But others were very, very afraid of her, as she was the master of an art to hurt people there, so effectively and efficiently. I moved from this group fast, as there were many to catch up, those I knew and were of my age group also. It was a reunion program, not only from Bal Mandir, but also from two other orphanages, Shiphal and Panchkhal too.

Kedar Shrestha, the housemother was the oldest one - not in terms of age but in terms of her job time in the Bal Mandir, and the most strict one also. Some regarded her strict nature, was a kind of must to control the children to tame them. But how much one needs to be strict to the teen bunch of orphans is definitely an arguable issue, which i do not discuss here. First they treat them like an animal and had problem taming them later on, its pretty strange human behavior, is not it ?

For about five years or may be a little more than that, during my stay in Bal Mandir, I stayed in the same row; where her room used to be. On that row there used to be three rooms and hers was the center one. On her rooms left and right sides, rooms were kind of code for the housemothers, if you name a room, then they could give you the numbers, how many girls [boys] were staying in that particular room and then they could also tell, in which grade they study.

When I was on the far left side of her room, I was preteen and not much of a trouble to her but as I grew up my fearless nature also grew with me. Adult around me started noticing it.

I do remember now, when I was in seventh, till ninth grade, the housemother used to clear her throat making an audible sound, before entering the veranda; that lead to her room. This was a habit of hers, which she did as a rituals and never missed giving a hint to girls to clear the path for her. All the girls, who were playing on the veranda or in their rooms used to enter in their rooms, all at once and no girls used to stay within her sights - the door and windows, from where she could see them. Such was her image in their mind; they rather hide themselves than face her.

She must have found this very hard to understand; why of all these girls [children], I was not afraid of her and never think, its necessary to hide myself from her. I was not afraid with any other housemothers also. I was like, that autistic child; who has no fear of height or anything. I see no logic in fearing with her or never understood then and now also, why others were so very terrified of her ?

There were people, who could tell me that she did not like me. Her logic was, I was very fat and my bust was big was big enough to pull all the attention form the guys around me and some guy must do something with me some day. My body and she was worried, hard to believe it. I was fat enough to sit on them, and they needed no further punishment.

I was, also not intimidated by the presence of boys and used to play with them. Today they have a word for me a ‘tomboy’ but then, they used to regard me as an uncontrollable child. I was one amongst the problematic child. I think I was naughty and yes disobedient but not bad Just not the type, who obeyed and followed the orders but did not do any harm to anyone. was never involved in OMG ! act and also was not also part of any such group.

Why girls were that fearful with her ? Are girls unnecessarily coward with the housemother ? who happened to be very strict, when it comes to maintain discipline inside the Bal Mandir ? My question was and remains, is discipline and fear is same thing ? I figured, discipline and fear is two absolutely different things. Because no body explained, the difference clearly to me, my young mind accepted that it was different, so I was not fearful with her or anybody for this or that matter.

Today when I look back, I could not help but wonder, was she intentionally injecting that kind of fear, in all girls mind so that she could benefit from it ? It was bit too late, when I learned the answer to that question; why she had injected fear in every young girls [ children] minds.

Every Friday, it was her off day, unlike other housemothers; she used to leave BM, before 7:00 am in the morning. She used to carry loads of dresses to her home. I grew up hearing stories that she used to send it to her brother’s store, who had a shop in Darjeeling. It made her enough money, that she was able to make a brand new home in the heart of the city - Asan. It is different story that she died, before she moved in that house.

The house was her retirement plan. Couple of years was left to work in the Bal Mandir, but then in late ‘87, she was hospitalized due to kidneys failure and then she died in the hospital. What they found in her room after her death, caused so much sparkle, that she lost her gratuity amount, which she was supposed to get, after her tenure in Bal Mandir.
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