Changing views

Sunita Giri 11:43 PM |

Recently, I watched this very horrifying and moving story of a young boy on crime show that came in Indian channel. It was about a street boy Fahim*, nine years old, who was taken to Alfred Jacobs Orphanage for caring. It was only boys orphanage. When he was taken to the orphanage he was washed, clothed in clean dress and then fed food, that was prepared only for him, not for all other boys who lived in this orphanage. Almost immediately, he was taken to the shelter home, he was forced into child sex for white colors paying clients,who visited this orphanage, purely for this sexual pleasure rather than helping or supporting them without expecting anything in return. This was happening in this orphanage under the direct involvement and direction by its founder, Alfred Jacob, who was an American by citizenship.

The boys who were in his orphanage was sexually abused by mostly rich Americans, who paid handsome money to Alfred Jacob for the same. Some of the visitors also used to take  young boys to Goa or other parts of India during their holiday trip and paid hefty sum for the same to the founder. Remember, this was not as same as the charity money given to run the orphanage.  He was doing all this, in the name of keeping boys from the street. Its so hard to understand some people see money in somebody else desperate condition and yet say it they are doing it for their good.

Unlike other boys, who suffered silently, Fahim did not like the pain he has to gone through. Due to the painful affair and his helplessness also he was not willing to remain silent and wanted to seek help to get out from the total mess he found himself because he could not see any difference in its nature, that his life here was any better than his life on street. Except the angel of looking at it was different.

Once he was out with his white ‘client’, he asked him a Rs and then called an NGO, for this and then the case slowly picked up. Alfred ran out from India during the case. With the help of interpol red corner, he was extradited to India and the case was fought against him. Lower court declared alfred not guilty, because Alfred Jacob could infuse loads of money to corrupt the mind of other young boys who never spoke against him and also to probe the young boy wrong, but Fahim and this NGO took it to high court and it took them 10 years to fight this case but ultimately supreme court convicted him guilty of charge. This case also helped parliament to bring new law to protect the rights of children against sexual abuse.

The other day they were showing  a story about  a mentally retarded teenage girl’s story on crime show. She was so much mentally challenged she even did not know the difference between  sex, abuse, molestation or anything. She even did not know was this normal or abnormal to have relationship with many men.

Then she was pregnant and she was not even aware of it. She herself was in a condition that she could raise that child. So when the top management came to know about it, it they sought the court's order to abort the child. They also investigated who is the father of the child and who is responsible for all this.

It was sad to see in this finding that this girl was not just sexually molested by the most of the male staff of children home like driver, security guards and others but worse than this, these men were charged by the maids in the Nari Home for letting them to play with this girl, where she was kept before she was transferred to this new shelter home run by nuns. This kind of story do have power to shake me throughly from within, for they finding ways to make money out of a mentally retarded girl also.

And suddenly all the things I have been crying for in most of my life that nannies were so mean to us and housemother were so ruthless and disrespecting towards our conditions seemed too pale in front of these two cases and their conditions. We were treated and regarded less than humans at times, but perhaps we do remember things that was negative in its nature longer than the bright side of the society.

I am not saying what I have been in Bal Mandir was not just my issue almost all other person in different orphanage regardless of country or society must have found themselves in my shoes once or more. Its only that the others seem to have gone through a lot worse condition than I have been in Bal Mandir. Suddenly it feels that it was heaven compared to the other places or orphanage and at time even being a part of a family member was worse than my condition to find myself in Bal Mandir. Its just that we don't know that story.

It was not the place or country but the society and its culmination thinking is worse or makes the matter worse than the condition we find ourselves in. I feel good now but it also feel sad that my good feel has direct relation seeing or knowing others bad condition. Law of relativity is funny, I find my self in better condition which makes me happy and I find myself in bad shape who have been in better condition than me.

All I need is a break from this law !


Note : *Fahim’s name is changed to protect privacy.

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Kleptomania or plain thief

Sunita Giri 11:25 PM |

Damak was pulled out from the Kanti Ishowri school, where he went to study as a child, because he had come home with a gold chain in his school bag. This is the school where children of affluent class of the society used to go to study. Damak was one of those lucky one who had won this seat, purely due to his good performance to win that scholarship. It was abrupt half from his scholarship, because a thief like him should not go to the school where the rich kid could not come with gold chain on their neck.

When I grew I mean even after college, I came to know about the concept of kleptomania and its definition like, an obsessive impulse to steal regardless of economic need. and some say that Kleptomania is the inability to refrain from the urge to steal items for reasons ....Psychodynamic theories depend on a variety of points.

Recently, I saw very interesting story on crime on Indian channel. They were telling a story about a boy and his stealing habit. Santosh as they call him with a fake name to protect his privacy, was a son of a very well to do servicemen in big city. Its only that his  mother was dead and his father was novice to raise a troubled boy like him single handedly or at least the story portrayed him that way. Its 'Indian way' of thinking that if the child is raised in a family without a missing parent they need to blame the difficulty to that missing parents. Some intellect really finds so much sense in that kind of understanding.

No doubt Damak was pulled out from the school, not just punished for the mistake he did; the moment he was caught with that gold chain in his bag. Because, he was growing up in Bal Mandir, so he was a thief. But this was not the case of Santosh.

As a young boy, he used to steal money from his father’s wallet, who did not give him small change of money as and when he needed and demanded for it. As if, that is not enough he even started stealing money from the wallet from the maid that used to work in his home. When things got worse she left the job due to this problem, but relatives of his father pointed at the maid not Santosh for his stealing habit.

When she complained about the problem to the father, he rubbished the complaint, saying that you are making this. During his cross checked it with his  son, even he blamed it to the maid saying, maybe she wanted to raise and found this way to complain. However, with every loss of money or such complains the father used to find some money in his pockets or his school box but father did not seem to be knowing exactly how to handle it.

As time pass by he started stealing phones from his classmate and started lying to him. His kleptomania never stopped, and when he was in college he stole 4 million in four days from ATM. He by now have become master in hacking pin code from debit cards. He was sharp and never failed in his class despite his keen interest to make money or to have money in his hand like the rich kids have. He wanted to have everything in his hands which rich kids have and enjoyed for granted.

Although, I grew up in Bal Mandir, I do not remember now, that Damak and I were in same class or even in same room. Worse, I don't even know Damak was brilliant enough to be sent to school like Kanti Ishwori. I think he was there only for short period. So, when I wanted to write about it, I had checked it with those who used to go same school. They don't seem to be remembering this incident.

I know I have very bad memory power but this incident is there in my vague memory, because I myself was too young to understand this and just too young to pay more attention to further news to this kind of news. Is this that the news was more with the  management and not disseminated with the children because when it happen Damak was young too, but what is worth paying attention here is Damak may have been younger than 9 years old then.

When I look back now and try to understand it, with more clarity, that he did not even know that chain was made of gold and it has such and such value in the market. He was  just too young to know all that. In Bal Mandir, where we hardly needed any money for this or that, as all our needs were met by others. There was no need to steal gold chain from his classmates but he was a steal and thief and the Santosh in the above case was not regarded as thief. He grew up in family and went on to become a master mind behind the biggest ATM fraud  in India at very young age.

Last time I have heard about Damak is that he have become a good businessman at the age we in Bal Mandir envy, just like the Santosh in the above case. His figure at only 20s became the figure of 40 years old or more. But I have not been in touch with Damak for so long and I can't even remember when was the  last time he was in front of me. Here I would like to add that before that gold chain case he was also caught stealing others tiffin box.

Is not this [kleptomania] is a flawed concept that make no sense and trying to give a fancy name to so unsavory of character instead of telling them you are a thief ? Criminal mind is not associated only with poor or needy background, as some psychologist or sociologist would like to inject in our mind by linking some story of Damak or so. It lies everywhere and all we need to do is to pay close attention in that kind of  behavior regardless of their background.

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A Question

Sunita Giri 11:35 PM |

Back in mid 80 every Sunday there used to be one program on radio Nepal which used to air all pop song and may be on morning time an all pop English songs. Now I know it most of the time it used to songs by Michael Jackson which used to dominate the world chart buster and other western songs. But I did not know even that name when I was in school.

Back In 80s, we did not have anything to entertain us as a good time pass except Radio Nepal. It was the only source of entertainment or news. See, when I was in school, newspaper of any sort did not make any difference to me to get knowledge or news, was in my teen years and careless as this age gave me. But we used to stay around the housemother, Kedar Shrestha room  to listen this Sunday Pop program on Radio.

The host of the program used to speak in fluent English - a quality that had power to make us feel so small then - with a fake name of Michael something and I believed that the host was telling us the truth until, I joined Hotel. My boss happened to be the good friend of this host, who told me that he has a Nepali name and he was not the foreign. This news really shattered my age old belief, or maybe that is the truth I wanted to hold on. But when I saw that truth being fake it make me feel about about the reality. His name is Mukund Chand who changed his name to Michael later on, the man who runs German language institute.

However, the host of the show is not the topic of discussion here, but he sure used to keep us waiting for the whole week to listen his program. Couple of girls from Bal Mandir used to go to famous school like St. Mary’s School, Kanti Ishwory or Martyr Memorial school, which practiced English medium while teaching their student. Coincidentally, they were my friends who used to drag me to listen this program. English songs do have power to pull you towards its mesmerizing rhythm and music and the vast instruments they used when they create a music. It doesn't matter whether you do understand a word of it or not; you still like the songs. In my case I was so hooked to like it until I understand it fully from nothing at all.

But I am not talking about today, my memories has gone down in the memory lane of 80s, when my English was so poor, so poor I was not even ready to admit it. I remember this very vividly, one day as we were listening English songs, Radha did asked housemother Kedar Shrestha, the only adult around us, whose English was better than rest of us “do you understand these songs ?”

Before I go further, I need to tell you this here, Kedar Shrestha was only housemother who could talk English fluently and help any foreigners take a tour around Bal Mandir without a guide. It was not a secret, she had completed her education from Darjeeling, as she used to tell it again and again. Then I thought she was bragging. In my young mind, it was instilled that the darjeeling was the best place for good education, when it comes to English medium education and only handful of people from affluent family background could afford education from that place. 

Sure, the housemother acted superior with her English and education background, and for the kind of school I went, she used to say without blinking of her eyes, “shitty school.” But, Radha didi did not went to the kind of school as I went and was only person out of a dozen or so, who had got the sponsorship seat in the school and had completed her SLC from the St. May’s School. I guess, when this incident happened, she was studying in ninth grade and  I could have been in eighth grade.

In return to her answer the housemother asked her, “do you understand it ?” with a teenage stupidity or innocence and not understanding the adult thinking she replied promptly with some kind of intimidation that English do have power to make us feel, “no”.

The next question from the housemother was “then ?” It really baffled Radha didi, that was not what she had expected. Suddenly, that simple question had pulled the string of thread to so many questions like whose English is better or which school is better or may be more than that, can a teenager growing up in Bal Mandir could have better understanding of English than the staff ?  

Because she was very strict housemother who tolerated no nonsense; no one dared talking with her looking into her eyes; not even for a minor issue. So, Radha Didi did not say a word after that.

Later on, once we were outside of her room, she shared her thoughts with us, she did not wanted to check how good or bad her [house mother's] English was, she just wanted to know and understand the lyrics, to sing, like we do when we like any songs.

When I grew up more and went to college, I came to know that reading and learning English and even going to college with Masters degree has nothing to do with understanding of spoken English by native american or English speaking person, forget about the song they sang !

I just wish, I knew this long time back, when that innocent question was popped and unexpected reaction was exhibited. But, that is why we grow up and know what is right and what is wrong. Confusion and understanding is what life is all about and a major part of our life too.
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Sunita Giri 11:46 PM |

A middle aged man, with gray hair stood in front of me and challenged my memory power with full confidence, “tell me who I am.”  We had gathered in the yard of Shifal Children home to go for a reunion picnic with our old mates from Bal Mandir and there he stood in front of me.

I did rack my brain for some time and then I gave up. Once I gave up he said, “I am Raju.”  My reaction went haywire after learning that. I had seen him after twenty plus years and when I had seen him last time, he was in his mid teen years and now he is in his forties. Not easy to recognize him.

Raju was one of the boys I did not like amongst all the boys I had dealt with in Bal Mandir. He was very crude and rough in his use of language. Its because of boys like Raju and the use of language they used in front of their classmates, made them think that children in Bal Mandir are so uncontrollable and does not know how to speak and behave with others. It was not that Raju may have been the only one brand ambassador of bad behaved guy, but he sure was one of the gang member of that club.

In that picnic Raju revealed one truth, which I did not knew during his stay in Bal Mandir. When I asked him, “what do you do ?” he responded that he does not do anything. We are not from the rich peoples society to digest that answer, so I pestered him again; “what do you do for living ?” He told me that he does not do any job, because he had some ancestral land,  which he sells and which provides money for living.  Then how come you landed in Bal Mandir  ? I asked him again thinking,  if he had that much land to support him life long how come that kind of person landed their way in Bal Mandir ?

“After my father’s death, I had become so uncontrollable and my mother could not handle me. Kedar Dijju [ housemother in Bal Mandir ] was our relatives and I was put in Bal Mandir hoping that I would get better.”  Raju said in a tone that was not helping me to understand his feelings about this condition. His response really stunned me.

Its not normal that children gets expelled from Bal Mandir. You can imagine why, and your logic is right. Its the very obvious reason, see this is not boarding school or jail or juvenile home. It has its own objectives and reason to be tolerant towards the troubled teenagers too. But, at what extent and point they can tolerate the total absence of discipline.  But in his case he was expelled ! He got tangled in physical relation with a girl in Bal Mandir and both of them were expelled !

Teenage sex, hormonal change in their body during that age, change in sexual behavior and attraction towards opposite sex is not new subject and every generation has to face the complexity of it. Besides, it has power to freeze adult across the universe; but I think adults [housemothers and room nannies] in Bal Mandir were paranoid about handling this truth as it is regarded one of the most taboo subject, even today, forget about it then; when it was the time society was not open for the word ‘sex’ in conversation like today. You must be knowing this is the same even today !

Talk of this teen age sex and how it was handled, how we were treated or brainwashed do have a power to numb me even today and might talk of it in my next post. Here I am talking about the expelled childrens and the reason that had behind those expelled boys or girls.

To my knowledge there was another pair of boy and girl who was expelled, and it was from the same family that was associated in the above case. Yamuna didi and perhaps the Balkrishna Dai’s stay in Bal Mandir was short cut because they were cut red handed stealing dress from the store. They used to steal and then sell those donated dresses, for their pocket expenses.

It was during the following year of the big  truck load of donation to Bal Mandir from Europe or may be from America. It was more than sufficient to clothe all the children in Bal Mandir for almost ten years. The loads and load of good quality dress was not just eyed by the royals, staff at the NCO but even children in Bal Mandir used to steal it and then sell it.

Of course, it can be understood, if the children get punished for the misdeed they had done. It is understandable, why royals eyed those dress and took it from Bal Mandir for their  personal use, why staff at the NCO did not miss any opportunity to get it for their own children, as the quality of the dresses was just too good for the children who stay in Bal Mandir. But lucky we, we got to wear those fancy and expensive dresses despite all those jealousy ! I think  at this point, you should know this fact here; some even call it second hand dress too. Does this matter to us then ?  No ! because we felt good in those lovely colorful dresses and when we feel good we look good. Those were so good quality it did not used to wear off as easily as the dress we were given by the Bal Mandir.

It was also the time when the children’s dresses used to get vanish from the place where they used to place it to dry under the sun after wash. Some children used to steal it that way and then they used to give it to their class teacher or others who visited Bal Mandir with their children, just like that. Too much to those who have never seen it before is too risky sometimes.  

And then there was Gyan Bahadur, who used to steal ‘spike shoes’ from the store or mainly from his friends hideout place and then used to sell it for pittance for his pocket money. The school children inside the Bal Mandir premises use to be his potential clients and they used to pay him good money for those shoes. I guess those shoes are called sneakers in this days, but that was the time they used to call it ‘spike shoes’. Gyan Bahadur never got caught for his this act like others who got expelled for their this kind of behavior.

Oh yes, its not just shoes but he used to steal and sell dresses too.  He used to work in good team with others for this kind of stealing and then selling mostly to our own classmate in the school we went together.

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