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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