I could brag but I won’t

Sunita Giri 11:36 PM |

There was times, when people just judged us, purely because, we grew up in Bal Mandir. There was time it shrieked me badly, until I grew up more to understand the reality behind such judgement.

I know I was in a lot better condition, than those, who were raised by parents in a small family, who misunderstood; the whole scenario that their life was ten times better than our life in Bal Mandir. But I beg to differ to that preconceived notion, because I think I am a lot luckier than them. Today, I know exactly, why I am not envious of what you have and that includes, your parents, siblings, extended family members and your grand parents. This also includes your warm clothes, better food [if any you got it] than us and the better school or college you went. Its purely, because for the following reasons. Here, I don't need your approval for my reasoning; because this is my believe, so next time think twice, when you judge me for my condition and life in Bal Mandir.  Let me count it here :

  1. My parents could not have afforded that big palace, just to raise six of us, with so many rooms and bigger space to play with me or with my friends and that big kitchen garden to grow the vegetables, enough for 200 people. Your parents could not provide you all what I got for granted.  
  2. One of the best thing that ever happened to me during my stay in Bal Mandir was not only after school programs, but all the extra curricular activities, we were allowed to do inside the Bal Mandir. No wonder, I love dancing, singing, knitting, reading, just tell me what I can't do. But thanks to the royals who made sure we learn everything, well almost everything. Having a hobby could cost parents, but thank God, Royals took care of things to train us for all those things and later on I am even more thankful to Bernhard Rutz for letting me to do most of the training, I ever wanted to do. Your parents could not afford to sent you to all those classes, we got almost for free in Bal Mandir.
  3. We had nannies or housemother to spank or scold us, but your have none to do so, therefore, in their absence your parents has to do the same work for you. So sad news. If you have read the research done by some university, it tells you that, children raised by nannies are a lot better [ 10 times better, at least I would like to believe this] because they get spank the children behind their boss back. I agree with this totally after dating a guy raised by parents and he was rich too, who lacked loads of spanking and reprimand from his parents.
  4. There were nannies to clean us, bathe us and do the other stuff for us; whilst your parents had to do all that for you ! that so not fair. It makes me think that, I had more rich lifestyle than you could expect unless you come from the business tycoon or royal family.
  5. There is one children home, where I go bit often. This building is in the center of city, yet it does not have a single fruit tree. What is the use of a building, without fruit trees ? If there is one, we can go steal the fruits to remember our childhoods. There was about ten different fruit trees in Bal Mandir, those trees not only gave us the different taste of fruits during different season, it gave us plenty of childhood memories too. Those who grew up in house without single fruit tree, are ten times poorer and in bad condition than we are.
  6. People who were raised by their parents, knows only of small world and take care of I, me and my family motto. Their horizon is so limited, with handful of their own family members and couple of relatives to worry about. Our world is real big. Get a chance to know all kinds of people from very young age. What a beginning !
  7. Those who grew up in small house also have a way to make us feel small and inferior, just because they have family and we don't have. I am lucky I don't have, otherwise I have to peep in a house and its already finished; with just hand full of rooms to live in for all the family members. I lived in Bal Mandir for fourteen years, and yet, I don't know, how many rooms it has. I know it has more than 100 rooms, but not how many more ? I don't know.
  8. We had three blankets to warm ourselves up during the winter seasons, whereas normal family members use only one or two. One itchy blanket, stayed on top of all the blankets to replace the ‘allergic aunty’ may be.
  9. We grew up wearing all foreign clothes, of course, second hands, but hey who is complaining; and not much local made, until my last couple of years in Bal Mandir. for you to wear all the foreign clothes your parents either has to be really rich or has to work in social organization to steal it, meant for us. It was interesting for me to hear the news that some of those social workers children, who grew up wearing the same felt good about the quality; whereas we should shrink[?] under those clothes. Its really strange.  
  10. Not having parents does not mean end of the world its just the beginning of the understanding that is hidden. Its a freedom to live our life, our way. It does not have to be right way; just my way, because its my life and my rule.

You have nothing that I am envious about; not even your parents or family. No, not even the house you have, not the warm clothes you wear, not the good food you enjoy. What I have is worth bragging for, but I won't do that.

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What's so funny ?

Sunita Giri 10:57 PM |

I know I laugh at the odd time and jokes and some people don't even find this funny.  Whenever I tell  jokes I am the one, who laugh first and the loudest and people laugh not because the joke I tell are funny, but because; I laugh hard for nothing and that’s the joke.

When we were young, like 12 years and younger than that keeping us quite for couple of hours, during the school holidays; was not easy job for the nannies and housemothers. So in those holidays, they used to make us sleep for about an hour or two, after the morning meal.

That also was not easy for them to makes us sleep. When I was young, I mean in Childrens room younger than 10 years, they used to keep oil in ours eyes to make us sleep and when I grew bit old I mean older than 10 years; then it was even more harder for them to keep us quite. So this time I could have been studying in the 6th grade, may be. The house mother Sabitri Basnyat, just came for a round to check ups, whether we are sleeping or not. She found that I was not along with others. She checked me on my legs, with her giant feet, that some what tickled me and that just made me giggle. It just baffled her, because it was not funny to her. She did the same thing again and said something to me which today  I don’t even remember now. What she said then but then again that tickled me and I giggled again. She again did the same thing and needless to tell it tickled me again until she raised her voice and told me that its not funny. I think her raised tone and voice must have doused my giggle and put me to sleep.

In a recent gathering, of our childhoods friends, Rita was sharing her memories of Bal Mandir, which has a nanny named Chiniamaya Didi, who was notorious for cursing anyone like anything; even for a drop of hat. Rita was doing the caricature of ChiniaMaya Didi, when she cursed the one, who used the waters, she had filled to wash the clothes when the day gets warm. What stunned me more was Rita, not only knew each and every dialogue but she knew the persons, like who sat where and the house mother Kedar Shrestha was looking down from her window and the pots and vessels ChiniaMaya Didi had filled water was placed exactly where.

Everyone, who was listening Rita was laughing like hell and we now find it so funny. But that kind of meaningless cursing, to the unknown and unseen, is what the culture I grew up. Its bit strange that some people have that kind of strong memory power and yet they don’t  excel in their school and college.

And the other day, it was the time of Shiva Ratri, and our front yard had the piles of logs ready to be burn out on the big night of Maha Shivaratri. The logs were the branches from the trees that surrounded Bal Mandir. To manage the woods for the shivaratri was part of spring cleaning also and we had the big fire at the every shivaratri night and it accompanied some late night snacks also.

In the late morning of one of those day, I must have said something that displeased the housemother; of course, Sabitry Basnyat, who was sitting nearby. I guess it must have been  something to do with her defocused eyes and me being so blunt must have passed a blunt comment without caring she is so nearby and not surprisingly that angered her. I don't even remember today, I bet she too can't remember it, what was that which I said, made her  mad. But it made her so mad that she picked up a log that was bent on eight places. It was so big that she being 80 kg or more and 5.5 height  has to hold that log with her two hands, to beat me up. See I don't even remember the thud sound it may have made. I must have cried then with the pain, but when I look back and remember that bent at eight places and thick log and the anger she felt; makes me laugh like anything.

I only remember, she holding that big log, which was bent at many places, with her both hand in a position to hit me. What used to make them so angry towards us to hit us like that ? But hey, if she had not beaten me like that, where on earth I could have got the courage to face mean people around me ? who hates me for no apparent reason.

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The Machine

Sunita Giri 10:05 PM |

I could have been studying in eighth or ninth grade then, when a man from Belgium had donated a big machine to Bal Mandir. I am quite not sure, that the man represented an organisation or he pulled the money from his own pocket to donate that big machine, as I was not allowed to take part in inside information like all others, who lived in Bal Mandir. But looking at the size of the machine and the purpose of it, it seemed that it may have had come from an organisation than just from the wallet of a person.

It was really big machine, seemed like for industrial purpose rather than for domestic use. Taller than me and may be a lot more than 300 kg. All made of iron. The men who carried it inside the Bal Mandir from the gate, must have sweated long and hard to bring it in the room. May be due to nature of the machine, it was placed in tailoring room, where I worked after school. I along with many others who used to go to morning classes, used to make all the dresses we need for year round, for the rest of the children.

The machine was to make socks, and this could make 30 different color and design socks in an hour. The Belgian man must have seen many children walking around without socks during his visit to Bal Mandirs. Then, he must have got this idea to give them the machine instead of buying them just the socks for a time. He may have thought that, if he give machine to the Bal Mandir, which had about 200 children then, they do not have to worry about  buying it every time they lost it or it gets hole in it.

Its a natural curiosity in every human being, wanting to know, how one’s gift is being used. One who gave always want to know, how it benefited to those, whom one has given. Needless to tell you, in the following days and weeks the man repeatedly visited to see how the machine is working.

But the machine never worked, never run and never made even a single sock.

I do remember Mrs. Shrestha, who was in the management team then, who used to handle all the sponsors in the Bal Mandir hurriedly sending message to lock the room and go to somewhere, every time the man visited Bal Mandir after that. She always used to find the suitable excuse to tell the man like, “she [our tailoring madam] is on leave today, so the door is locked and she is the only one who keeps the key of this room.” Sometimes, she used to say, “She has not arrived yet, so I am extremely sorry, I could not show you how the machine is working.”

When I look back and try to understand, why they could not run that machine really makes me think even harder. The reason, they could never ever run the machine is because of the the cost of the labor charge at that time. It was revealed to me by ‘Krishna miss’, as we used to call her even though she was the mother of three children. She was the in-charge of tailoring department. They needed a very skilled manpower to run the machine smoothly, which was rarely available back in the mid 80s. She was also asked to find the one, who knew how to run that machine. It could have costed NCO bit high, to pay someone who was skilled to run the machine. The cost then, is said to be around Rs. 12,000 per month to pay for the man if only he would have hired to run the machine, but due to the salary managers were making then, which was less than  4,000 Rs. per month.

I was not aware about the salary part, when I was growing up in Bal Mandir. Now, it’s so very obvious, that the management at the Nepal Children’s Organization was not willing to pay that high salary to anyone, who was not in management team. Therefore, that machine went on rusting without ever making even a single pair of socks.

I wonder is this machine is still in Bal Mandir. Where did they dump it, when it was not working for so many years ? I guess it must have been sold to the man, who collects it at scrap value. If only, the skilled labor could have costed cheap, may be Bal Mandir still would have that machine running, to make all the needed socks for the children.

The Belgian man or the organisation which he represented could have never ever thought even in their wildest dream, donation with such good intention would have gone wasted just like that !

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Sunita Giri 11:10 PM |

As a child, who grew up in Bal Mandir; I know this very clearly that, people from outside finds us different, compared to the one who grew up in family. Regardless of the inbuilt flaws that had in the people, who grew up in family and the virtue of Bal Mandir  children had always ignored grossly.

Outsiders; could mean anyone, who did not live our life in Bal Mandir. They could be our classmates, teacher or staff in the school, or even people who were in management and staff at the Nepal Children’s Organisation. They sure, did find us different. Different in what way ? Why we were different that others, who grew up in family ? How stark was that differences ? Some the the differences was that our classmate said we stay in Bal Mandir and we don’t have our parents and we eat steam rice. The last words was said, in a way that is very derogatory and that had the power to shirk our ego which never puffed up in anyone who ever lived in Bal Mandir. Some doctors advise some people to eat steam rise due to health reasons, but we eat it without his prescription.

So it was not easy to find out the core differences that resides with us as a child who grew up in Bal Mandir.  This is my pure objective to find out the real differences between me and the others who grew up in family and then post it in my blog or one day publish it. But one question always remained in my mind, why people finds us different and what is that thing which hammers that believe; that we are different ? but that tangle almost got untangled during one of my visit to Mrs Shrestha’s residence couple of years ago.

It may have been around 2007 or early 2008; I am just quite not sure about the exact time. I had gone to see Mrs. Shrestha. She was in the Bal Mandir management, when I was there. It was purely a courtesy visit, because she once did favour to me by finding a sponsor of course, he is none other than Bernhard Rutz from Switzerland, who not only help me finish my college education but more than what I even could imagine. The truth is that Bernhard came forward to say to her find me two person I will help them to go college. It so happened that I was in her mind, at that time.

Over the years, I have observed myself, that I do not visit her much to show my gratitude   for what she did once to me. But then I remember, why those visits were so limited, why I hold myself back to pay more of such visit to her.

Its so happened that during that visit, the talk went back to the memory lane; when we both were in Bal Mandir and she was trying to share some of the things with me, how the children behaved there.  She finds me different compared to others, who have full of stories hard to be forgotten or overruled. She said that, some of the children in Bal Mandir behaved like a juvenile child. It may be simple saying to her or to anyone but, that line   is what stunned me and numbed my conscience.  

In my vague memory, today, I do remember asking her, “did they behaved like that ? because it was not the same case when I was there”. She said, “it was and maybe I was too young then to know all about it.”

Do I live in denial to accept that children in Bal Mandir used to behave like juvenile children ? But I never encountered such behaviour there, and I was not a two days guest or two months volunteer there. I stayed inside it for 14 years. One of the behaviour issue, which I remember is a fight that broke in two big girls. These two girls were to fight and they fixed a day for the same. A girl, whose name is Ram Kumari, on the day of fight, oiled her hair and braided it tightly, making it hard for  the other girl, wanting to pull it. Needless to tell, the other girl whose name could be SanuMaya or Sita Devi [not sure of the exact name] was not at all prepared of her tactic; she was the one whose hair got pulled so badly.

Obviously, due to its nature, it was much remebered event, even when I grew up bit old.  This is one of the bad behaved situation, which I remember till date. But this is just the girl fight. My question is, does this kind of fight breaks only in Bal Mandir ? To make us that much different than others ?  One of the thing which I have observed that, we are less respectful to the elders, but that is what we grew up observing them. It only reminded me of an old saying, respect by command not by demand.

How normal the life in Bal Mandir has to be to make us normal or kind of accepted by the people who grew up in family ? Who is responsible to fuel the thought that keeps alive; that we are different than others ?  Of course, there are many unusual stories, but everyone has some kind of story to share and some to hide. Some say it that, everyone has a skeleton to hide in their closet.

Then why its so different, when it comes from Bal Mandir and from a family who has a skeleton to hide ?

What kind of normalcy people expect from the children, who grow up in Bal Mandir or any children’s home ? Why its been ignored that some of the differences can't be the same never ever, just like that man and woman who grows up together but stark difference always remain the same.

Children in Bal Mandir, may have been intolerable at times, due to the big number of children, but yet they were not to the extent, that people call them they were as uncontrollable and had the killer instinct. I do not remember one single incident one of the adult nannies or male staff was beaten to death due to uncontrollable anger a teenager ever faced, not when I was in not when I am out of it.
Of course, we hated our nannies, housemothers and staff of the NCO; who at times were so damn annoying, but which teenage children do not have differences with their parents ? when was the golden era, teenagers were not rebellious to the condition that lied in the society ?
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Emotional Retard

Sunita Giri 11:10 PM |

Me and Prafulla
 Prafulla is my teenage nephew, who took time to tell me and my brother that we are different, when it comes to show our emotions. He said it just a day before I left my brothers place the next day I reached at Chitwan he left for Kailali and my brother for Kathmandu. Both of them returned  just a day before, I was to leave after my 15 days stay with their home.

“You are so different than others in our family” he started with this line; to which I retorted “what do you mean ? do you think I am from Bhutan ?  

“I don't mean the way you are taking it but, your family is different than our family.” Me and my brother grew up in Bal Mandir, later he was shifted to the another branch of Bal Mandir which is at Shifal.

Prafull, is the oldest son of my youngest brother, among his three children. He just started going to college. He along with other of my nieces and nephews know very well; that I don't get much along with my brothers. I have five brothers and one of them, who was mute and deaf got lost in India when he was taken there by his oldest brother.

“Since when I come from different family ? I thought you are my family”, his way of saying ‘you and your family’ clearly meant his fathers side of family. It kind of offended me or kind of angered me, with that kind of attitude, which he held for us. It raised so many questions in my head, but I choose not to verbalise it. Besides normally mother is someone who comes from outside and they are regarded the ‘others’ in family not the father or his  side of extended family members !

“No, I don’t mean that way, you are getting it wrong way”, he responded fast.

“Tell me, what is the right way to get it” I asked him coldly almost snapping at him. It was interesting for me to observe him, that he had not lost his cool; its only that, what he was verbalising has nothing to be cool about.  

Without losing his cool, he said to me, “you don't talk more like my other aunts [from his mothers side].They talk different things and you talk different.” They take time to mix with them and talk all the things, but all I do is read books and open hot discussion on their God and religion, they are christians and I am not so I have plenty to open [unintentionally at most of the time] hot discussion with him only usually. Besides, I am sure, Prafulla has only one well educated aunt in his home and that is me !

I don't get it, why he wants me to act or behave like his other aunts ?  I am not much interested in ‘kitchen talks’, all I could respond to him, “well, this is me and I am different than your other aunts.”

To his father he said, “ I have observed that when I bring [surprise] cake on your birthday, it does not mean almost anything to you; whereas mommy always gets so excited and happy to receive it.” Sukdev, did not reply instantly, but took time to listen Prafulla and me in another small discussion in the meanwhile, then he tried to clarify him “to me gift on my birthday does not mean anything to react as you expect me to react on it.”

At this point, let me add one more information here, my brother is a christian leader who preaches at his church, others and at mass. Does all kind of missionary work. Would have known his exact position in the church hierarchy but because I am not Christian so not much aware of its ranking. He is nationwide known leader and because of his involvement in local FM and TV channel and he teaching in a Bible college only proves he is not at all; introvert person as Prafulla is giving me the picture. Nothing makes me introvert.

Its not that, I am the only one, who don't gel well with any one of them, the truth is, none of the brothers get along with each other, and none with me; even though I am the last child and only girl in the family. When they need each other, may be the neighbour or other friends can be better help; than own blood brothers, to lean on for many kinds of internal needs. Its not new thing that have come out only recently, its been there for ages. New generations grew up noticing it since long. They hardly visit, their cousins and their uncles or aunts. No one is excited, to visit each other like it happens in other families. Not surprisingly, now, when they are grown little bit, they are verbalising it, what they have been watching it for years.

Me, my brother and his youngest child
Couple of years ago, during one of my visit to Chitwan, I wanted to know, why its so and asked it to my middle brother among the five. He said, “its because of the education system of our country”, his answer zapped my brain from one side, as well as tickled my funny bone from the others, at the same time. I have never ever heard any thing as lame as this but it still has power to tickle my funny bone, every time that answer reels in my head. With this , I have to admit having a stupid brother like him.

But stupid is not that much of a  bad trait in this case, because others, who are older than him are crook, cunning and creep; who lack moral characters, I am more embarrassed to talk about. But may be, we know very well; blood relationship is not everything, we need in life to live. Life teaches us so much more than that and at times we see the different shades of it, just around us. All we have to do is to pay the attention.

When the iconic singer Madonna was filing for divorce, she used the words ‘emotional retard’ to describe Guy Ritchie her husband at that time; from that moments on the words had struck in my mind. Millions of women around the world may have experienced it, how emotionally constipated their husband are, and when so many divorce cases ends in courts, due to lack of communication. It only make me think; geez not all of them grew up in Bal Mandir like me or my brother to be emotionally constipated like that ?

In Germany 56% divorce cased happens, due to lack of proper communication. I am ready to bet all my money, this kind of personality trait has nothing to do with me having grown up in Bal Mandir. Its a different personality of any individual. I strongly believe this, that this is the idea people who grew up in family, have tried to impose in our mind that, we are different than those; who grew up in family, especially when it comes to express our emotions.

Of course, I am different than those who grew up in family, because I am not attached to anyone. I think its a habit not the personality trait and also because, everyone is unique and different in their own way than the other person. Why do I have to be same as others ? Its so boring !

Well Prafulla, like it or not I am your family and you can't exchange me with others. I hope one day you will grew up to know, why its so.

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