Single mother

Sunita Giri 11:34 PM |

 Last year, during  the first week of January, I have asked  Ritu’s permission saying, “Ritu I want to write about you in my blog, think about it and you know so many people read it, so talk with Rojan [her only son] also, because his name is inevitable to mention in my blog once I cover about your life.”

She thought for sometime and said, “okay.” I thought she did not wanted her son’s permission to give me her consent. that's a good sign. II went on telling her, “ I will do it some time but just think about it and give me some info on this.”

She just nodded when I spoke. But after a brief pause, she gave me some of her personal info that I needed to put in my blog, when I really write about it. A week later, she suddenly died in a road accident. It was really shocking and I had been holding that post until now. I am really missing her visits at my place. Unlike others it did not bother me that she was the single mother, personally speaking I have more regards for single mothers than those who stick around with their abusive or useless husband due to societal pressure.

She really would have helped me, to make couple of sweaters; without me telling her which pattern or design I need, as she had plenty of photocopies of good designs of sweaters, which she had collected during her work with a Japanese Man, which she did for more than ten years.

Ritu Shrestha, was a single mother of a boy. My friends circle from Bal Mandir were very judgmental about her character, which made her a single mother. I was singled out, for my opinion from them, because I took is as a mere adult mistake, of course, a stupid one. She was judged for her bad character, because the boy shared a father, who is not only nowhere in the picture, but was the father of one of her sister’s child, whom; her sister had been dating then.

She was not considered a stupid girl, to make such a horrendous mistake, until she actually made one. Because unlike her sister she was good at study and a lot better than her two sister too. Everyone judged her because, they said  the man belonged to her sister. But, I did not see it that way, because the man was never married to her sister and he was not there for her sister even after this stupid mistake. He is a man like millions others walking on the street, hunting for vulnerable women, who are in need of protective figure around.   

Ritu, did not shared it with me but I am told that the man vanished once he found out that Ritu was pregnant ! Through a common friends, I also came to know that, Ritu had tried to abort the pregnancy. Understandable as she was not married and as the father of the child was not going to be there for her to support her in future, forget about it; that the same man was dating her older sister too. She did almost every other things, but went to hospital to abort it, because the cost was so expensive, and she did not have that much money to do this. Unlike today, it cost about Rs 1,000/- in maternity hospitals but my guess is, in that time, which is around 1994 -1995  the abortion was not legal in our country and only some private doctors did this with high price.

When the baby boy was born, Ritu’s condition became worse. She had to support herself and her boy without a job for long time. That was the time she stated knitting sweaters  a project to support children in Bal Mandir and the ladies who were out from Bal Mandir was encouraged to make the sweaters. She saw the kind of life which was definitely not meant for her. Her own childhood friend regarded her as a prostitute, behind her back for that stupid mistake. This new tag was even more fueled by her own sister, spreading nasty and ugly feud between them. When Nisha, the oldest daughter of her sister grew up bit, lets say about eight or nine, she joined her mother to spread nastier and uglier inside stories about her aunt, to their close circles and later on in the school she joined with her two sister and Rojan followed later. More nasty and uglier information about Ritu kept coming out in a way I rather avoid it.

I secretly wished I did not know them that closely, but sometimes, we don't have any choice but to hear it all. However, at the same time, I choose not to judge people based on what happened in their bedroom. The change in her life was not just the lack of finance and insecurity associated with the financial matter; it was the social stigma that was worse, which she had to face. The harsh and cruel side of her own childhood friends must have been very hard on her as she lost all the confidence needed to join a decent job according to her education background.

When Rojan, her son was about four, she started working as a domestic maid to a social workers home, because the boy was kept in boarding school, since then. Please don't get I wrong here, it was not part of her pay. It was the social workers job to find the poor and needy people to add in an education project funded by Swiss Nationals here Nepal so that they can provide them better future.

If I listened to Mrs. Shrestha, she was doing Ritu a favor by giving her a chance to work, because, it gave her something to do and some money to make so that she had some to spend, and this is the fact that nagged me most. Because, it was not the full time job, not even regarded as a part time job. It was a job that anyone could do on Saturdays, she was paid a times meal for the days work and pay was so meager it was not sufficient enough to support her half a week.

Ritu working as a domestic maid to Mrs. Shrestha’s home was out of obligation or to simply say her thank you, for keeping her son in boarding school until he completes his education was a shocking for me to digest for most of my life. It kept me nagging and it still nags me.
Its really not easy for me to understand the real motto of Mrs Shrestha to keep her as her domestic maid. Who on earth keeps college educated as a domestic maid ? Mrs Shrestha is is the chairman of this project and children home here in Nepal. Its not just the college educated but Ritu went to Kanti Ishwory Shishu Vidhyalaya. This is the school, Royals and the affluent family’s children went for education, when they were young back during the Royal era. Ritu was the only one from Bal Mandir to complete her full time scholarship from this school [until Seventh grade], and after that she went on to continue her further education from Martyr Memorial school due to her good school background. Her percentage was higher in school when she passed SLC and her college percentage is also higher than that of mine. I never got a chance to go to English medium school; throughout my school and college life !

Because, Mrs. Shrestha was in the management of Bal Mandir, she knew it very well that Ritu’s school background was fantastic and her college record was also not bad. When she, knew it very well then and that the pay was not sufficient to keep her alive even for a week then how come it was a favor to her ?  Ritu or any other person, who gets support from the project she is involved for more than twenty years do not have to pay  her back like this. She is not the one who picks up the bill because all the she money she is in charge of here is paid and borne by the Foundation which main office is in Switzerland. It does not come from her family’s charity box.

This incident gives us just the glimpse of how our social workers work here in Nepal. Ritu serving her as a domestic maid for almost 10 years was what exactly they think about the people they work for years. Ritu was fired from her work as a domestic maid in about early 2010 for her backbiting habit. Oh, yes her backbiting subject was Mrs. Shrestha and her family members good work.

Its their prestige to work for us but we are not their pride even if we do good in college and life. Somebody else will take pride in our work and achievement but definitely not the social workers who work for us for years.

Note : Rojan is in his 2nd year in his college and studying management and his favourite subject is Computer science for which he is still getting support from the same foundation.

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