Never make me feel that I don’t Have mother !

Sunita Giri 9:46 PM |

The afternoon after the death of Ritu [Shrestha], mrs Shrestha, called me to know more about the news. Let me clear out one thing here to you all, before I proceed further; I call her Dijju, which is a royal word for older sister, is her wish not my choice, as she is old enough to be my mother. Her oldest daughter is of my age, but she wanted me to call her Dijju and I feel kind of, very awkward to call her with this word.

“Why you did not inform me about this ?” was her first question. I said that, “since yesterday my battery is running low and at the same time I am waiting for a call regarding the further news about Ritu. Probably we have to go to the Pashupati today, for the cremation; if we get a call for this and then your call came.” I explained to her. She told me that, Prashant has just told her about this, in this morning only, fearing it may not be right to tell her such tragic news before she went bed. She then added that, Rojan had spoken with her, “you know, he does not sound very shocked with his news”, she remarked. She also added that, she had assured Rojan, “not to worry about all the cost associated for the last rite and any other, if their is in between.”

Next day on 18th of January, two days after the accident, I had been to Hanuman Dhoka as the committee member had not shown their nose to talk about the punity damage. There I saw Rojan, he was calm and composed, compared to the news of his mother sudden death on road accident and that to her head had been crushed under two powerful rear wheels of the passenger bus.

His capability to control his emotion on situation like this just made me wonder, and at the same time it also reminded me how much I detested to those who squeeze their eyes and bring some tear on it forcefully, and those facial graphic just made me laugh like anything; I have to distract myself not to do so anyway. I know its bad not to feel the emotions they are going through, but that is what I get in my mind, those facial graphic just makes me laugh.

About a week later, I had again gone to see Rojan at the place where they stay for thirteen days alone. Rojan was still calm and controlled. He was reading a book by Chetan Bhagat, ‘five points’ probably to occupy his minds, during those lonely days. Rojan is barely seventeen and he is the only son of a single mother. Ritu is all what he had in his life to call some body, she is mine. He has just joined college and yet he has shown such courage to cope up that kind of tough situation. How can somebody of his age can manage to handle situation like that ?

Rojan had one request to make with Nisha his cousin [not with her mother] though; “please never ever make me feel, that I don’t have a mother !”
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Death on the road accident

Sunita Giri 3:19 AM |

On January 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm, my cell rang, which is bit unusual. Normally my cell does not ring at that hour, but the phone rang because it carried very sad news. Pradip Dai told me, there was a news that Ritu had been hit by a bus on her way back home. He asked me, “why not you check with Rojan, [Ritu’s son] and then with her sister, wheather they know the news or not.” I was the only person who could have their number and at the same time I also live in same area where Ritu had been living for couple of years.

I had to dial some numbers, before I get Rojan’s number. When I spoke with Mirawati, she is the middle sister of Ritu, they were just back from the hospital. She confirmed the dreaded news; Ritu is no more with us. It was so hard to believe, what I have just heard. Then the phone just started ringing with more news and cry and disbelieve and the how this happened.

When the accident happened, Rojan was waiting for his bus at around 6:00 pm, one stop ahead, from where Ritu normally takes her bus, from Babar mahal. That Monday evening, it was unusually cold and it was getting late and to his surprise not a single bus was coming on time, after half an hour’s wait, he got on in one bus from the Bijuli Bazar bridge. Most of the time they used to find themself on the same bus if not all the time. When his bus reached at Koteshwor area, his phone rang. It was his aunt who had to deliver the bad news of the accident to him. He got off from the bus and then called one of his friend, who came to pick him up on his bike. Both of them rushed to the B & B Hospital.

When they reached the hospital he could not find his mother, so he called on her cell phone. A police man picked up the phone and told him the body had been rushed to the Patan Hospital. By this time his aunt had reached at the Hospital, with her two daughters and a neighbours to see the Ritu. All of them rushed to the Patan Hospital. Once, they were inside the hospital, the attending sisters did not let them see the corpse. Head of the Ritu had been disfigured in such a way that, such bloody graphic should be avoided to show any one even to the kins of the deceased and sure enough, not even to his own son.

How such horrific accident happened ? came to all minds, when the news floated. Urmila Thapa was a in close knit circle of of Ritu who also works in Traffic department, went extra miles to find out how such horrific accident happened. It unfolded that Ritu climbed on the bus, which was so overcrowded. She climbed on the bus but could not enter much inside of the bus, so she just squeezed herself on the door side trying to catch on whatever her hands could find in that dark. Just when the bus started rolling, a jerk like break made Ritu fall from the bus, and to her bad-luck; she bumped with an electricity pole and then came back again towards the bus, thus her head was crushed like a watermelon by the two powerful wheels on the back side of the bus. During all this process, the bus was still on the move. But more disturbingly news still awaited to surprise and to hit the common sense of the public when they hear this kind of news. Even after crushing the head, the bus driver was not slowing down, instead by this time he had picked up the speed on the road.

Two bikers, who were behind the bus which had just killed a life saw the corpse lying on the street with blood spilling from it which had, which has spread by now some 20 meters ahead with the wheels still on roll, without trying to stop. These two unknown bikers rushed ahead of the bus, and then pulled their bikes from two sides, in front of the bus [Madhyapur Bus Babasayi Sangh] and made the driever come out of the the bus. To the victims’ kins horror the passengers were not even bothered to find out what happened out their as no body was taking off from the bus, even its driver had vanished already, they were focused only to return home as soon as possible, as it was getting dark and that to fast. It could have took them another hour or so to teach to their home. The driver immediately vanished from the scene, fearing an irate public might mob him on the site.

Just like these two unknown bikers, the true civilized citizen of the country, there was one more silent helper, like that private taxi driver, who drove the body to the B & B Hospital and then to the Patan Hospital without a charge, just as any human being should have done at the time like that.

The next day kins were to go to the DSP office at Jawalakhel to claim the corpe from the hospital after a postmortem and then do all the needed for the last rite. Driver and the bus helper was out on the run but now they were in police custody. They had to pay the damage cost for the negligence, which took a life. It did not work out the same day as the committee member representing driver and the helper did not come to the table, to talk to ease the situation. A letter which the police office from Lalitpur SP office to Kathmandu SP office, should have sent to also got delayed the whole process.

The slow and staggering process from police side and the reluctance to come to the table to talk about the cost of damage, just boiled the young blood and they wanted to come on street to vandalized the bus that killed our friend and a mother of Rojan, who had only her to look after and take care of him.

On 18th of January, the document came at around 2:00 pm only at the MPR [Metropolitan Police Range], which should have came in the 1st half of the morning with top priority. This delay in documentation just boiled our patience, when we were waiting outside. But we may not have seen such cases daily however these police officers or staff are used to of this kind of cases day in and day out, so they wont rush as our minds rush and want them to hurry in their work.

Just about an hour ago the broiled crowed of ours was talking in muffle tones to do some damage to the bus of Madhyapur Bus Babasai Sangh, so that this kind of act will force the committee members to come and talk about the damage money, which they were delaying to taste the patience of kins and we so many friends, who had gathered out the MPR office at the Hanuman Dhoka. Rojan had called his college friends and with one call, there was a group from his college ready to vandalised the buses, if need be. but I requested them to wait until they proceed the document, which came bit late. We had to show some respect to the law, even though we feel its vanishing. Another news came that the drivers and bus helpers time to stay on remanded had been increased, this news just subdued our boiled temper. Therefore, we waited for some time and in the mean while we kept calling the Committee members to come and talk to us so that Rojan can cremate the body at the Pashupati at the earliest. Then at around 2:45 the committee members also came to sort out the case and then it was decided that the victims to get 5 lakh [ half a million Rs] as per the law of this country on such occasion. At last, on 18th of January, kins along with close close knit circle of the Ritu from Bal Mandir, they went to the Patan Hospital to claim the body and then went to Pashupati to for the last rite. All those delay made them stay at the cremation site until mid night of the day. some of them returned at home at 1:30 or only 2:00 am in the morning.
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Bundle of joy

Sunita Giri 8:14 PM |

Unlike many others, I love winter seasons. Yes, it has its own flaws; yet I like it the way it is which comes in our life, regardless of our liking it or not. Its been couple of nights the sound of crying small puppy has been keeping me awoke at night and that crying sound of a puppy in the cold winter night is just enough to pull me back in my memory lane, back to my childhood. Today, as I walk out from my apartment, a small black puppy, just wanted to follow me right on my leg, just it used to happen many decades ago.

Winter has one more blissful moments to go through without a miss, as this is also the time the dogs give puppies. I do remember some of the boys used to smuggle, small puppies to their best girls in the Bal Mandir, when I was there. Once giving birth to multiple puppies, the doggy used to hide her puppies, inside the tunnel, where she knew; nobody could enter without her permission. But boys used to find it out, most of the time. It has just given birth to puppies, and all they had to do is to look for the place, where. And then smuggle it long before they themself came out from their den.

Girls around the world loves to get a puppy as a gift, specially from boys; and I guess boys know this too well. Some times, they used to smuggle very small puppies also, who had not yet opened its eyes, before 22 days old. As they say pupppies open their eyes in 22 days only. It used to make girls, go gaga over those bundle of small joys. They used to take care of them, as if they were the puppy’s mother, but when the pub needed milk, they used to run after the mother.

During this time frame all the children specially those who loved puppies, used to share foods with them and in return the puppies used to follow them around. Almost all the children regardless of sex, drool over the lovable and hug-able puppies. Children tolerated the litter they made, as it was not up to them to clean it.

A housemother, Kedar Shrestha watched this silently for about two months and then she ordered our janitor to throw all of them in far away distance long before they could track the road back, as they say when a pups grows up it will track the house back. This process used to break all girls heart so badly. It took some of them to recover the loss but they came out clean always as every year the cycle repeated.
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Vanishing Respect

Sunita Giri 9:04 PM |

Madam S was telling me an incident, which she had experienced recently, when I visited her, about two years ago at her resident. She is the head of a children home here locally. Madam S runs the operation of children’s home with her children's help but this family is not involved in donation collection, to run this children’s home.

The incident goes like this : one girl [sorry I really forgot her name] was just out from this children's home, who did not returned her school uniform while leaving the hostel, to the hostel in-charge. So, when she visited her after some time, she reminded her to return the uniform. What happened next, shocked her totally, the girl not only returned her school dress but all the dress she had taken with her form the hostel threw at her door very next day. “you know I requested a lady from the school to clear all that dress, which she had thrown at my door.” Madam S said in anger.

“These Bal Mandir Children, you know how they are”, she was telling me as if I am from palace or she instead. This is one line, I have heard it for umpteenth times; and by now I know this that, she uses this line as if its her most possessed luxurious ornament, which she will wear one, to feel so good and also to pamperself when she is not feeling well. She would not miss any opportunity to flaunt it.

I never ever get this to ask her so bluntly, “okay tell me how we are ?” I would not also because that is an imaginary ghost, and that ghost lives in her head and does not exist in in reality. However in the above case, I really could see the anger, the girl felt and then threw all the dress at her door as the situation is only the reaction to once statement, right ?

This next conversation which I had with Madam S, couple of years ago, in the same children’s home will help you to read her mind more clearly.

“These Bal Mandir Children, you know how they are”, she repeated her favourite line again, when she doubted that some the girls from her project, may have been receiving the education fund from NGCC also. NGCC is an Swedish supported organisation, run by Devi Lama locally here in Kathmandu; which provides shelters and college education opportunities to the girls only, once they are out from Bal Mandir at the age of 16 [after SLC].

The doubt was seeded in her mind purely because some of the girls were attending the most expensive college, than they would have got the permission from her. But she revealed the fact of those girl joining the college in her next line, some sponsors of the girls are sending them money directly, by passing her to join the college they wished.

When she doubted that, I casually suggested her, “why not you go to NGCC, sit down together and talk to the lady. Match the both of your list and if some body’s name is on both project, then delete them from one project. its easy you know.”

“I wont do this, why should I go and visit NGCC ? she said in her trademark offensive tone. then she added that, “I know Devi Lama personally and she has great respect for me.” Unfazed by her offensive tone, I again requested her “ then it makes your work even easier to go and visit her and then check your name list does not this ?”

“I will not visit her place, why should I ?” she insisted with her usual irritating tone.

It so happened that, when I visited the children home again in about a month later, I saw a brochure of NGCC lying on her office table. Seeing that, I asked her very casually, “were there any match in names ?”

A very short answer came “No”, which she responded in very absent manner way. It seemed that she had forgotten, she had doubted the need and intention of the girls in her project and the answer was negative. First time in my life, I liked that negative answer coming from her mouth; but the negative answer which came very absent mannerly, was not some thing so normal to me.

I did not react there anything, however that answer gave me more and strong reasons not to respect her further, which was vanishing almost every time she repeats that line, starting from “these Bal Mandir children....”. That line is her passion food to indulge herself to some kind of her mentality, which I could never understand properly in all these years, why she needs such indulgence. As those suspect has no concrete reason to support the truth, yet she would not want to confirm it or admit it ever I was wrong, but it made us feel bad to bone always for no good reason.

More I find the reason behind those baseless suspects and blame more my respect for Madam S is going down the drain.
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Naughty or plain devil's child [?]

Sunita Giri 10:57 PM |

Gopal Dai, was a very decent old man, a man with few words also. When I was growing up in Bal Mandir, this old man used to chop woods, as a fuel; as well as grind spices on the big stone made grinding pan which we use here for grinding spices. Meat used to be provided once a week, as a curry, that day is undoubtedly, Saturday.

This man was very hard working and decent fellow also but there was some thing in this man children could not resist to tease. I guess teasing is not right words to put here, in fact they [including me and hey ! I was definitely not the kind of decent child to be prayed] used to bother him for his physicality.

The fact was, that he was suffering from a hydrocele. Now a days it can be cured by operation. Even in those days this illness could be cured but it seemed that even if it is not cured, its not that painful also. Yeah, its bit of odd and at times, it could be very embarrassing. The one who is suffering form this kind of disease, need a big size pant to hide his embarrassment. But because Gopal Dai, was a working class man, so he never needed a pant. He used to wear a Nepali suruwal, which is a lot better and easier also to hide is swollen testicles.

Hydrocele, is a common cause of swollen testicles in newborns and the elderly, although men can develop hydrocele at any age. Hydrocele occurs when fluid accumulates between the two membranes that cover the testicles. One or both testicles may be swollen. Hydrocele swelling gradually increases over a period of weeks or months.

Therefore, this disease make their balls look bigger, more than its normal size, perhaps more than five times bigger. So, many children freely teased him about his extra size of the balls, giving him a nick name of H***E.

He was very cool headed person and never beat up any children and would not bother them unless; he is forced too. One day, he must have washed all his suruwals at a time therefore, he was wearing only short. His short was very short, keeping in mind to his extra size balls. As he was taking a siesta, near by the place where he had hanged his clothes to dry up, Nirmala Tamang, who could have been well below twelve then, saw an open whole on his short, revealing some parts of that big size balls. So, she started throwing small size of sand stones, targeting on the part which was seen. Gopal Dai, was a kind of person who would not tangle in very argument, whether its short or long.

He had very simple solution to keep those devil childs away, who would bother him regarding his uneasy disease. He would simple run after the child and then grab the one who is teasing and then rob his/her head on his big balls, asking them, “ will you say this again or not”, until he got confirm answer from that particular child. It did work every time; as bring the embarrassment to the one in front of all their friend, who was trying to feel him embarrassed about this. Nirmala, cried after that like every girl of her age could have, then later on she tried to reason her side of story to her friends, who were at the scene, why she did that, “how could he, show his big balls and sleep so quietly”, but like every devil child would talk about it later on, to all her friends; she too shared it, to all of her friends, that his penis was far more smaller than his balls.

This time as she had thrown some small stones, so he robbed her hand up and down on his private parts. As my friend was telling me this story, I hear a sound of Ravi, in my ear with purple look in his eyes, “Sunita, what Gopal dai did to you, when you teased him ?” I just used to give him a deadly stare, which worked against me as he found this too amusing to resist, so every time he wanted to irk me, he used to ask me that question.

I know this from my own experience, after that Nirmala never dared to tease this decent old man again.
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Bruised Dignity

Sunita Giri 8:10 PM |

The year [1992], when I was waiting for my college result, I joined the secretarial course in The New Era. It was a Diploma in Secretarial course, for about six month and class was about 3 hours daily only. But this training used to take our whole day to complete short hand homework or trying to get it right. Short hand writing used take longer than it could have. This course totally forbade us to socialize at that time, with our friends, even during the weekends. Apart from the short hand, which was the toughest one of all, it used to cover other areas also to handle office and the boss of the company. Today, I cant even remember, what was the reason Niti Rana, the Director of the The New Era, was angry about but one day, she lectured the whole class.

She was known for being very strict lady. At the same time, she had just got the Shruti [late princess] joined her classes, as this course was comparatively new then, and suddenly she got such recognition that she got a royal to join for the course. Therefore, she may have been flying high up in the cloud 9 for getting some thing like that. Or the reason could be anything, but may be, for that reason also, she was forgetting some thing while lecturing us.

Having grown up in Bal Mandir, that kind of group lecture with the mention of name in between the rage, was nothing new for me but it did bother my close friend then, who unlike me, was raised in family and was the daughter of a very well respected person in the society. The Editor of the only English daily, at that time was much more respected person in the society than Niti Rana herself.

There was one more stark differences between us, she had gone to the kind of school where they get a class room notice, like principal wants to see you in her/his office, if one of them make some mistakes. But, went to the kind of school, where class teacher make us stand up, on our bench or call in front of the class and tell us to be a ‘murga’ and remain like that, during the whole period.

“ can she say that ? she was saying as if we don't have any dignity”, she said in anger. I looked up at her with my usual dazed look and asked her, “what is dignity ?” It surprised her that I did not know what is it ? she then tried to explain me, what it is but I did not get it, as it had very vague meaning for me to understand.

It pains me to admit it in words, I did not know the meaning of dignity; even though I was already a college student. I guess it was because this one thing was grossly lacking in my [our] life until now and did not understand its core value of it.

Every body, didis [room nannies] housemothers and office staff felt free to scold, smack, lecture or shout at using very demeaning, degrading and disrespectful language for us; which was very obscene and filthy and yes, undoubtedly; dirtiest at it, most of the times. Even rooms mates and seniors used to use those very language when, they got angry with each others. There was no doubt, they have learnt most of it from hearing, from the adults around them, all the time, so the young child minds just copied it fast observing them, without even knowing why.

Smacking, shouting and scolding always happened in groups, some times selected groups for doing some stupid mistake only preteens or teens can do and some time for a whole room or at times the whole girls or boys only, but only in groups. Those, who were not being shouted at, was the mute audience of all those demeanour. So, no doubt, there was no dignity, no self respect left and what is self esteem ?

Dignity, self respect and self esteem are not long words to remember, but these three words has very weighty meaning and my whole school life and half of my college life [I spent only four years in college] was finished without knowing the meaning of dignity and its true importance in life. In the coming decades, it took me longer time to know the meaning, but more than that to apply it also in life. The true value of the words in life; I mean in our life.

That was also the year, I was having trouble to get rid from a guy, my first boyfriend. After having a drug like effect, which lingered in my mind like a cocaine [perhaps] to forget him, even though he wanted to move on without me. There was clear sign he was not into me, yet I was stupid enough to hold on somebody, who was not truly honest with me. I was lying to myself and I was not free from letting him go, specially from my mind. Then she said , “as if you don’t have any self respect left, he is not married and lying to you.”

This one line helped me to give my mind, a thorough shake which ultimately helped me to get over from him. Of course, It took time, but it helped like a strong medicine. However today, self esteem and self respect helped me to move on in my life with my head held high with dignity.
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Cauliflower King of all vegetables

Sunita Giri 11:15 PM |

Winter season is almost incomplete without the regular servings of cauliflower in our meal as a main curry. When I was a child growing up in Bal Mandir, this was my number one favourite curry of all time. It was the time I used to like only five curries, but now I cant even remember, what were the other four.

Today, my list has been replaced by other curry as number one but it still has not been much down from the list of top five curries of all time.

They used to grow cauliflowers in our kitchen garden, which we used to call the statue yard. This particular yard offered plenty of space for us to play and ground was not tiled or paved. It had a lush green ground and was fun to spend time playing there. Not surprisingly, many of us used fall instinctively under the rows of full bloomed cauliflowers and get it some to eat it raw, just like that, without even running it under water.

Oh ! my God what a sight it used to be, when it full bloomed [ cauliflower ] and it kind of used to tease us come on ! take a bite of me, as if it was challenging us in a way to question mark, are you a child by heart ? I mean for real ? Oh, yes we did took that challenge and enjoyed the fresh cauliflower straight from the garden. It used to be so beautif and healthy that a piece of cauliflower, perhaps used to weight around 5 kg or may be more. Not a single piece used to be less than a kg. So not surprisingly, it used to be enough for more than two months for about 200 plus people, during the whole winter season.

Manju Didi, used to do all the needed work to seed and take care of all the vegetables garden. She was such a hard working lady, and her house can be seen just outside the Bal Mandir, gate where she lives with four of her children and her husband. She also was the full time staff at the school inside the Bal Mandir premises, where, I studied til seventh grade.

May be I was just too young to know this but as far as I can remember, most of the vegetables used to be grown internally, for us and very few were brought in from outside, like meat or dried beans.

Once, she is done in the kitchen garden it was our turn to water it and take care of rest of the things. Each of us was needed to bring four buckets of water before the evening meal and then we had to do this about thrice a week and rest of the day it was the boys turn to water it. The housemother Kedar Shrestha, used to keep vigil eyes on us for while we carry water. One or two person used to be there to with a mini watering pan to shower young vegetables. Besides we were also needed to pluck the unwanted weeds from the kitchen gardens, which of course happened, after school hours. It was not much of a hard work or toughest job for us. It just gave us some much needed free time from our daily boring schedule just study, study and study, as I myself as a child was not much of studious student.

The taste of the cauliflower used to be so good, we never said enough of this curry, and just like me it was the number one curry of so many others.

Occasionally, there used to be plenty of it, that they used to cut it, and leave it under sun to dry it so that we could eat it during summer, just like radish. But I prefer to have it fresh, I do not eat it even during off season. I just wait til the winter season to enjoy the fresh and healthy cauliflower and its freshness and season based is what keeps it, linger in my tip of the tongue and remain one of my favorite curry of all time.
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