I am a Sleepwalker

Sunita Giri 10:12 PM |

 As a child when they used to make us fill a form under the question, what you want to be when you grow up ? that was a simple question without any answer and  used to wear the look of Salman Rushdie.  I could never ever come up with one word that describe me or utter a word to fill in that form and housemother used to help us find the word like ‘nurse’ or ‘teacher’, which I never wanted to be but, I let it be that way, because I did not know the answer and some form needs to be filled, without having any answers. But in my teen years, one thing was very clear, I wanted to go to college and wanted to be self dependent in my life; that's it, nothing was clear after that.

When I was in college I thought I was on sleepwalk and did not know what to expect from life. Or lets make it even more easier to understand, I have no dream for my life, which will help me to move ahead constantly. There was no goal  in my life to work on.  

It could have been 93 - 94, I was looking for job then, I have just completed my I.com and also had completed diploma in secretary course, hoping this will help me to find a job faster. It was the time, when there was no mobile phone and land-line was hard to get at high price and long list of people to wait for more than a year and most of the house I could afford did not have the phone connection then. So it was not easy for me to leave my contact number on my CVs.

In the midst of all this also, I do remember getting a call for an office that was in Putalisadak at the Pacific Building. There was this guy whose name was Mr. Chakovarty, who looked like the Sales Manager. He was a very smart Indian guy. Apart from his curly hair and he being dark and tall like Indian I do not remember much of his other features. As he saw me entered in the office, he reshuffled his short listed candidates and called me for the interview first.

After the interview with others, which I do not remember now; he stopped me for a small briefing also. The reason he stopped me for briefing was he had some positions vacant in his office, one is for secretary and the other post he was looking for was some smart salespersons. He was interested to hire me as a salesperson not as secretary, for which I had applied for.

If I would have been a smart girl with clear cut goal in my life, I could have grabbed that opportunity at once, as it was first job in my life. But; because I grew up in Bal Mandir, the people I grew up with, knew nothing about good career and best opportunity in hand and therefore they could not have been trusted for their judgement to guide me to decide, which one to take as my first job.  Their horizon was very much limited to the ‘window vista’. I was trained and expected to be secretary in any office and that job of salesperson was somewhat I was not expected to be.

People who say poor people see their dreams in black and white must have some reason to believe that way. But on the other hand, do you know blind people never see color dreams in their life ? They say to grow in life you have to have peer pressure also to see them as inspiration. If there was none to look up, so how and where will we find those inspiration in life ?

In my case it was the same thing, besides for six months [ during my training as a secretary ] I kept hearing from people around me to become a secretary, after the course. Stupid as I am and as I was, I did not return to the Indian man's request to be in touch with my answer, because I was not mentally prepared to take the job of a salesperson.

It took me another couple of years to enter again in the Marketing and Sales department of The Everest Hotel as a sales secretary. When I entered hotel, I learned that the post was vacant for last six months and they could not find a single person to fill the position and out of the hotel I could not find any job. When I applied for the job I was selected instantly and they called me after about a week or so to join the duty,  purely because big company do not hire anyone on any day of the month. Their hiring has to make it easy for them to calculate not just for salary sheet but there are many other reasons too.

However, it took me couple of years more to realize, why I was letting that six months of my life's training to decide the entire career of my life; when I went to colleges for four full years to be more than just an office secretary. But, I have to be thankful to work time  in Hotel, where I got the opportunity to see and work with people who were more confident and smarter than me, and I just watched them and wonder what they have which I don't have ? Where did they get that kind of self confidence ?

Okay, besides having parents or going to abroad for their studies. Their college education was not much more than what I had studied here. This really made me think hard for long and then one day I have to leave hotel, despite my friends judgement not to leave the permanent job behind. It was presumed that looking at my background that was something stupid decision to make.

I have this habit of throwing myself in the most uncomfort zone in my life, where I have never ever been and none of my friends I know in my life have been. But However I do take pride in saying that wherever I worked I hardly bumped with people, with whom I went to college or school. It maybe not easy all the time, as they say its easy to work with the people with whom we share some kind of compatibility, but in my case its never the same. I did once bumped with a guy in a company but he was the first boy when I was in school. other than that I had never bumped with anyone.

I am thankful to Subhashini Rana who was my boss in Hotel, she once said to me that, “ in life you have to be serious about your career not anyone”. And I have learned one thing that, if I don't take myself seriously, no one is going to take me seriously. Besides there is one more important thing I have learned, I have to prove myself not to seek the acceptance from the people for who I am and what I am. There is nothing wrong in daring to dream in color.
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Big Head Baby

Sunita Giri 9:53 PM |

Just a couple of month back, there was a big head newborn picture were doing its round on the Facebook and it just reminded me of my childhood in Bal Mandir.

When I was young, I mean younger than ten years old [maybe], some people presumed that Bal Mandir is a place, where you take your sick baby and they will bear all the medical expenses for lifetime. Some people used to leave their loved ones, who were never ever going to recover from the kind of disease they were suffering like serious case of down syndrome and some left their mentally retarded children or disabled child.  Remember Bal Mandir is an orphanage, not an institution for sick people to habitat.

However, when I was young there used to be sick and dying children, who used to get admitted in Bal Mandir almost daily, and there used to be night rush to the hospital almost daily and so many children used to die overnight also. One of  those sick people, who used to get admitted in Bal Mandir was big head babies. As I am reading my back issue of Reader's Digest about the big head baby leah Church, the operation was not easy process even in US back in 1995. Pediatricians and neurosurgeons were full of skepticism about its end results, and they expected miracles here back in early 80s ?

Hard to believe !

Bal Mandir was used by some people to reduce the high cost of medicine bill which they could not afford,  maybe it was one of them. But how would I know, the real intention of the parents ? When the child was dying, should not the child be dead in the arms of their parents; instead of Bal Mandir ? Or they thought the child would live like nothing more than a vegetative life in future ?

So why some are born with big head  ? Initially I thought it the water in head but medicine science has better answer than what I presumed.

Hydrocephalus : it is commonly referred to as water on the brain. Doctors can't explain it exactly why, but in some babies, the brain’s normal drainage system shuts down before birth  and fluid accumulates in the head and compresses the brain tissue, which cause the big head in babies.  Operating on this type of case may cause severe retardation or blindness.

However, during my teenage periods, there were less rush to the hospitals at nights by the nannies and peons and death rate in infants and toddler section, came down drastically, almost to nil. I am trying to get it now with my grown ups brain, It  must be the decision made by the management not to take anymore sick and dying babies. By doing so, they must have discouraged many of those, who thought Bal Mandir is an institution, where they can get rid from their dying babies with huge medical cost.

Now, when I look back and try  to understand, the real intention of the parents who left their newborn  child, when the child was dying, I can't help but think; should not it be good for the child, who would have died in the arms of their parents, who decided to bring them on ? Instead, how come; I mean how come they choose to leave them in Bal Mandir ? Did they thought the child would live like nothing more than a vegetative and they could not live with the fact ?  Is this what they thought the real reason the Bal Mandir was opened for ?

Some parents are really disgusting, and you have to live your life in Bal Mandir, like me; to know how disgusting they could be at times.

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My Math Teacher

Sunita Giri 11:09 PM |

I was not the bright student, when I was young or for that matter during my entire student life. When I say not bright student, it obviously means; I was not the first bencher, never ever passed in flying color including and my weak subjects were very so obviously math, science and english.  On top of that all, math was my weakest subject. I could never ever understand the maths jargons. At the time, when mugging was one of the greatest strength of any student, it simply was not my strength, so I also could not remember the formulas that was a must for a student.
I had a math teacher, whose name was Naresh Shrestha. He taught us math since I was in fourth grade [perhaps]. My math was the weakest subject in school. If you want to get the idea how bad my math was let me give you a hint, it was so bad you will grasp the air saying, oh my god; you are not kidding right ?.

Its really hard for me to remember, which one was my poorest subject math, science or english ? but I do remember that this math teacher was the same one, who taught me science too. Does this surprise you then, if I tell you that I was not his favourite student. Not just that, in fact he totally ignored me too, as if I never existed, for me being weak in the subjects he taught was the worst part. He was the teacher, in the school I went until I was seventh grader; that is inside the Bal Mandir even today.
I think at some point of time, he also was the grade teacher also, which gave the teacher the right to have special mention on some particular student. I may be wrong at this point, but for this very reason, for me not being his favourite student  part, more than me being weak in the subjects he taught, he failed me in seventh grade. Because honestly speaking, there were others in my class, who were as average as me, yet they passed, but I did not. That meant the loss of my entire year. Apart from that, this is the reason I have to give up my other love, which was dancing and I was withheld from taking part in after school programs, when I failed. After school program needed us to be in practice rooms long after classes and during the big ceremonies it kept us from school for as long as 20 or more days. so who ever could handle the pressure was allowed to take part in after school not the student who was weak like me .

It filled so much anger and bitterness in my heart, for this teacher. During my 2nd year of seventh grade, I was with some girls, who really took extra interest to please him rather than focus on study. No, not the homework part; but singing and taking part in something that he  initiated, like extra curriculum in his class. I was least interested to please him, but Gauri coaxed me to take part in that game. I think Gauri, who used to work in one of the royals home nearby the Bal Mandir used to attend our school and knew at that very young age, how to please men. Therefore, slowly I started taking part in some stupid things that pleased him.  This part of my life teach me the great lesson that one do not have to be smart in study alone to pass in class, sometimes one has to focus on pleasing the class teacher also. Its the shortest and fastest way to make it to the top.

At some point this teacher also had predicted to my other classmates from Bal Mandir that I would never ever pass my SLC exam, forget about me going to college. He sure was right about his forecast, I did failed once in my SLC exam, and making him expert in his words, it was the math; which pulled me once more time. One more year loss in school. Then I went to a tuition class for my 2nd attempt and this time, my tuition teacher believed that, ‘there is nothing called weak student only bad teachers.’ This so contradicted with my earlier school teachers. It was surprising, that my new math teacher could teach me math and I could understand math also. Its even more amazing thing to know. I passed my 2nd effort in good marks, seeing my math history obtaining 50 marks was a lot better achievement for me than my potential here and I did it without cheating a single problems solution. All this was possible, because, this time I had a good teacher to teach me.

What’s so surprising was, the first  time in the exam hall I was allowed to steal from other’s exam paper or guess papers prepared by some teachers who used to run tuition classes or notebook, if any I have any chit for that matter to make it. But that just did not work. For me, it seems that  if my brain is empty, copying from others also did not work.

But today I do have no grudge for this teacher, who did not see me making it to bright future. But you know what is so strange ? his education and all his opinion was so not different, than the caretakers who sang the same tune in Bal Mandir. What difference it makes to me, when today I am in a lot better condition than he could have thought I will ever make !

Couple of years ago, when Bernhard Rutz was here; I told him about this teacher’s prediction about me not making it even SLC forget about college or my good work background. It only surprised him. I really don't know how far I have come and how satisfied I should be with my achievements today, BUT very few makes it this far who come from my kind of  backgrounds. I think this makes me satisfied with what I have achieved.

If you have been reading my blog posts regularly, you already know, Bernhard is the one man, who have sent me not only to college but was there for me to make sure, I make it best in my life. All you need is one Bernhard in your life not teachers like Naresh Shrestha,   who was my teacher yet doubted my true potential in life.

I am lucky to find my moon in my life, when I was still young and teenager;  have you found yours ?

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Swoshthani Katha

Sunita Giri 10:09 PM |

When I was child, lets say about  twelve year or younger than that and in Bal Mandir, a housemother used to recite the Swoshthani Brata Katha for a whole month. I really do not know if they do it still or they did after that also but I don't know much of its recitation, in my later years of my stay there. I have heard the story  so many times, yet I remember,  only its tone, but but not the story part. Strangely not even a couple of lines so that I can tell others if they ask me, what's there in the book. Given to the fact that, I used to stay on the front row, when housemother Sabitry Basnyat, used to recite it in a tone; that is famous nationwide.

Why is that, everyone in Nepal recite the story in one same monotonous tone ? Why they don't want to do it differently ? What's to good in that boring tone ? me not being the religious person, that tone bores me to death. Yeah you must be wondering just reading that line, I used to stay on the front row to listen the story.

I really have not heard the story since then, I mean its been more than two decades.  I am not the religious person to be interested in that kind of religious story. Only thing, I remember about the story is, that the book talks about an old man of 70 years old marrying a seven year old girl. What I do not remember is why part. why our books do not tell us that it was the wrong practice. Why a man of a grandfather can marry a girl whose age makes her like his grand daughter  ? or I should not say anymore about it, as I do not remember how the story flows further.  But I have a feelings it is not going to teach me any good that I can be proud of myself, or this story tells me anything that empowers women. Most of our religious books teach women to accept slavery in the name of culture, tradition, society and good for family, but nothing for herself.

During the whole time, when she used to tell the story, my eyes was fixed on the prasad that normally gets distributed after the every days recitation completion. This is a a kind of practice here in Nepal. Every puja ends with prasad. The prasad used to be different in different day so that added extra reason for me to stay on the front row and listen the story.

Normally, the story is recited  by men in every home or the one who can read but had not yet had her period. Because the recitation requires a month long fixed time, from the one who started it may be should end it also.  Women do avoid telling it, because its considered impure to take part in this kind of religious scriptures recitation during the time of monthly period. Those who were interested, used to take pill to avoid the period for couple of days at the end, so that they can tell the whole story. Or this is something, I really don't know the full part again. My interest was not in the story anyway. It was the prasad that kept me on the first row.

One must be wondering, why do I have to stay in front row; when she would have distributed prasad everyone, who ever were there to hear the story. Let me tell you the reason. Its for two main reason : first I was not the favourite of Sabitri Basnyat to be noticed and then called my name from the back row to get the prasad and second I was always short in height, so even if she would have noticed me; others would have diminished my chances to be seen and get the prasad. On top of that, my hand also was very short matching my short height to stretch it to her face so that she will notice and then she will give me prasad.

I think its time for me to find the answers, why that old man was not jailed for marrying the young girl of seven years old. This kind of story is the real shackle for freedom or lets say the empowerment of women in my country.

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