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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