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.

1 comment: said...

great post
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