Essay competition

Sunita Giri 10:46 PM |



Its really not easy for me to remember, exactly when, but there is no doubt that then I was a teenager. I just can't remember in which year of my teen I was then.

Bal Mandir used to hold all kinds of talent competitions back in 80s and may before that. Once there was essay competition to be held. Geeta Basnet, who was incharge of this department perhaps, may have made some mistake in its pre plan, that's why there was not much show ups for this essay competition. It was then the officers at the NCO - Nepal Children Organisation, which runs Bal Mandir sent news to housemothers to send some big girls may be boys too but I can't remember them to take part in this competition.

So, we about six or seven girls found ourselves in the Baithak Hall, where most of the competitions used to take place and then after some time we huddled in a bunch wondering what to write, in its big terrace which remained closed most of the days except there used to be such competitions only. We were given a subject to write about this essay : country’s soil.

Bal Mandir also used to publish one monthly magazine named Balak, where prominent writer of that era along with budding talents used to publish their creations. This magazine covered story, poems, essays, lives of influential peoples and many more. We have read in that magazine that country's soil meant, that our country has been fertile enough for centuries to give us legends and heros like Ram, Buddha, Janak, Arniko, and  daughter like Bhrikuti who did put world spotlight in our country, did something to raise the pride of our nation in the eyes of the outside world and also some brave soldiers, who had always protected our country from mighty english invasion.

Geeta Basnet felt really sorry for us as we looked totally confused and clueless how to fill our pages and how to submit the essay papers. Normally, they used to separate competitors fearing they may copy from each others, but then, she had allowed all of us to stay in a group and have open discussion on this and then write as we felt comfortable.

Many of us were clueless and not prepared for this competition and looking like a fools and wondering how to fill the pages. But it was not the same with Radha Didi, after some confusion, she started writing with ease that, how the soil of our country is fertile and versatile depending on different places and we can grow anything on it if we want. like some soil gives us sugarcane, and some gives us radish, and some gives us chili and fruit and foods. She probably may have been studying in seven or eighth grade then.

Most of us were almost in the same grade as hers, just one years up or down than her; but she was the only one who was thinking differently than rest of us. Should this surprise us that, she was the only one, who went to St. Mary’s School a convent education and rest of went to government schools. I do remember, when a housemother [Kedar Shrestha] used to get angry with us for our rough and coarse behaviour, she used to rant that its because we go to shitty school.  

Maybe that’s why, the clear difference between her thinking  and ours. Call it whatever you want, but lack of confidence and capacity to think differently than the rest have emerged so prominently at that very young age, but [I guess] none of us were smart enough to understand it then.

Radha Didi was using her common sense and not trying to tune in with some finicky writer’s imagination, who envisioned soil as being fertile to give us legends and heroes only, instead of all types of foods, we need to survive. As she was writing some of us was laughing like anything, because we thought it was a pure joke, rather than reality of life. She did laugh with us but yet kept on writing what she felt right then. We thought, we should be focusing on legends and heroes only, but, we knew nothing about them to write and fill the pages that was given to us by the event organizer.

Some girls did found logic in her thinking and started filling their papers accordingly, based on her opinion. Because, if they did not copy her, then the condition would have been arisen that, we may have to submit our essay competition papers blank and they always said in clear words, “Bal Mandir children are not smart enough, like the children who grew up in family.”

Today, I can't remember what was my opinion about that and how I filled my pages, I am totally blank here at this moment for that part. I also can't remember anything about the final result of that competition. Writing was never my forte then nor during my college days. All I do remember is, how unprepared we were, how we thought what we have read was true and how fragile age we were in then; to form our own mind about something we have heard already and how incapable we were to form our mind for the things we have never heard before.

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