Sunita Giri 11:40 PM |

When I saw Alisha, first time she must have been about six or seven years old. She was being raised by one of my friend. She herself was living in one room apartment with her husband and her two children, who were in  their high school final years.  All of them went to the same school.

A big dog and her brood of cats and then a hen too used to stay in that same room. Oh, don’t be too fast  to judge her and make your eyes go wide. She really, does work hard to keep her room clean.

Why Alisha’s parents were not taking care of her, was always on my mind. My friend always used to complain, it was not easy for her to raise her; when her father  gave her so little money for her keeps sake. Its not that her parents had houseful of children to look after, and Alisha was needed to kept out of her family to ease the tension. At that time she was the only child of her parents yet she was not with them.

“How come you know her parents ?” I asked her one day. “We used to stay in same apartment and her parents were my next door neighbour. When they left for their home in Sangha, which is outskirt village in the valley, they left the child with me.” she replied my querry. “just like that ?”  was my reaction.

“Her mother Mandira [Karki], had very hard time pleasing her-in-laws at her home. She is kind of rejected there, because she could not give them a son as first child”, She replied. A village girl  facing this does not surprise me. It's not just what Alisha’s grandmother thinks its in fact also in the mind of Alisha’s mother also that she could not have son instead she has a daughter.

“Don't they want to take her with them ?” I was curious as always. “I have tried so many times to send her with them, but I could not or they are just not taking her with them”, she replied.

“Mandira is very careless and do not show any interest in Alisha and specially taking her to their home, ‘Loke’ [Lokesh Karki, father of the girl] is a driver and was posted in Royal Palace. So his work needs him to be here most of the time [Kathmandu]. Honestly speaking Loke, does not like her and told me to take care of Alisha. If I am taking care of her, its just because of my friendship with Loke.” They are very close and good friends, so she calls him with his slang name just like a brother.

Then around 2008, I did not see Alisha at my friend's place and when I asked her, “where is Alisha ?, she replied, “she is been sent to a hostel because I can't take care of her any more it’s very costly to keep her with me and I just could not manage the cost her father was giving me to keep her.”

But, when I visited a children's home here at the Kathmandu, there I see Alisha. When my friend had told me, “she is gone to stay in a hostel”,  I thought school hostel; children home just did not strike in my mind. But, why they kept the information secret from me, when I was directly or indirectly involved with this Children's Home, where Alisha was sent ?

It was Ritu [she died about six month back in an accident] who had convinced Madam S. to keep Alisha in the newly established children’s home back. She had twisted the information to keep her in the group home, so that the chances to be accepted is higher. Understandable, everyone does that to convince to anyone, especially; when they are desperate. Why my friends were keeping that kind of simple information secret from me ? when they knew that was Bernhards’ project here and sooner or latter I will come to know about it. It is just the matter of time for me to know the truth.

But most unexpected response awaited me, when I said to Madam S., “Oh, I know this girl, she is the one my friend was talking care of for couple of years and she was complaining that it was very hard for her to take care of her.”

Every time a line falls from my mouth she gets offended  so, not surprisingly  she said, “NO, she is the popcorn girl, because her mother sells popcorn in front of the Bal Mandir gate and she do not have her father, maybe you are talking about the other girl.”

It maybe me or she has that signature tone of offensiveness, which has not changed in more than 20 years. This is pretty strange. But at the sametime, my mind was saying Ok, this is the reason Ritu and my other friend who requested her to recommend Alisha’s name to keep in the hostel was keeping this secret from me. At that very moment my mind was also racing with questions, why Madam S. can’t take whatever I say ? and What I know ? Its always the same. I think she is like so many people, who can’t take the second version of news, once they are convinced of first hand news, because what they hear for the first time is the universal truth. There should not be any reason to welcome other news on the first version. By chance I always happen to be giving her my version of the news, and this is always second opinion, which she is not open to believe anyway.

First hand news is not always, as true as Bible.

Today, I am sure Madam S. knows, Alisha has both of her parents, which must have been confirmed by the other source, she is more open to listen than to me. Her mother never sat down in front of Bal Mandir gate to sell barbecue corn-on-the-cob to support herself as well as the child. Oh, yes; I must tell you now, Alisha has a young brother, who is apple of the eye of her parents. I am sure his arrival must have help patched up the relationship of her parents which was about to break up, when Alisha was the only child.

Alisha has grown to be a beautiful teen girl now,and who is one of the very bright students. She is very good in her study and gush me out, everytime I see per percentage in her report cards. She will complete her SLC in couple of year.

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