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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