Sunita Giri 9:54 PM |

Growing up in Bal Mandir definitely meant that we were ‘made’ self aware about the fact that we were raised in Bal Mandir. Lets put it in more clear language and better way, there were people around us all the time to remind that we are abandoned by our parents, or some of them left us under the nettle-bush or in hospital because we were unwanted child and if not that, then they would never lose the opportunity to remind us that we were orphans. The ‘others’ will view us differently. There are and always will be the kind of people who will think of us with different light; regardless of what we are in reality.  We will be judged by the condition and background not by our virtue and this fact will never leave us.

To the young mind of ours it was not quite easy to grasp this kind of complicated concept, something like self awareness. Definitely not when we were growing up in Bal Mandir with two hundred children around us, all the time; whose story was not much different than ours. 

But the question keeps coming in my mind, how come this kind of self awareness gripped us from that very young age ? What made us so self conscious about our condition ? Were we always that self conscious about ourselves and our situations and people around us ? Were we smart enough to know about our conditions were different than that of the people who grew up in normal family ? I doubt so. We sure have people around us, who were working side this voluntarily and without our knowledge most of the time. When I look back and try to understand it, to know; why they did this ? What was the motive behind this when they inflicted self awareness about our desperate condition in our young minds ? Was finding us in Bal Mandir was that bad condition; that, we have to be self conscious about it all the time ? 

My mind is traveling back in my memory lane and searching its answer. Not surprisingly, I  remember one such incident when we were made self aware about us.

Let me share you what I remember, Geeta Basnet was in a team of staff  at NCO - Nepal Children's Organisation and she perhaps was the program coordinator, who used to organize programmes, that used to take place in Bal Mandir on regular basis. Once there was a singing competition going on, perhaps this was an inter-school competition. I am bit blurred in my memory about this particular singing competition because the biggest one used to take place in August or September during the birth month of Queen Mother. 

However like many children who took part in this competition Parvati was also one of the contestant. She was not just my roommate but also was my classmate. We used to share the same bench also in that cram pack seat, where seven to eight girls used to sit, back in our school days.

Luckily, at the end of the competition she learned that she was one of the winner securing her position in top three, in that singing competition. It was time for Geeta Basnet to prepare her announcement news. But; before she prepared it, she sat down with Parvati and then started convincing her to say that you took part in this singing competition from your school and not from Bal Mandir. She did not understand it first, what ms. Basnet wanted to imply; so coordinator clarified it again. See, this program will be announced in  national Radio - only one then and newspapers - at that time there was only two, one in national language, which is obviously Nepali  and another in English. It will be read and heard by everyone and everywhere. Therefore, it will be better if you say you took part in this singing competition from your school instead of Bal Mandir. Confused Parbati sought the approval of her few friends who had circled her there. They also thought perhaps the coordinator was right and meant good for her. After getting her friends approval, she gave her nod for that slight change of information. Geeta Basnet then made the necessary changes before circulating the announcement of winners to TV, Radio and newspapers. I am quite not sure we have TV then in our country, or we may have TV but it was on trial transmission then.

The very next day, at our school one of the teacher had heard the news on Radio the previous evening, so he broke it  to Parbati with congratulation. Needless to mention, she felt soo good, when her teacher said that. He added, he ‘felt so good to hear’ the name of our school winning the singing competition, which they have never prepared not sent any student for the said competition. The teacher whose name was Hari Sir, also added, admitting that he felt good to hear the name of his school on national Radio out of blue. No doubt, the confidence level of Parbati was boosted then, when she found that her name was announced on Radio [ which we missed entirely] after winning the competition. 

She was took part in that competition purely because, she was one of us in Bal Mandir. The singing competition was one of the regular program for which the opportunity was created by NCO; the managing body of Bal Mandir, part of its engaging program to all. But, the staff or people in the management felt ‘uncomfortable’ to float the news outside the Bal Mandir premises that  one of the winner was from Bal Mandir.

It might take long time for me to understand why adult inject such useless feelings in young minds and make them feel so belittle. My experience says that you really don't have to work real hard to make feel someone inferior when they already feel so. But, the question is, were we smart enough to understand what she was doing with our fertile mind, then ?  Was that just a manifestation of a behavior of  how an adult exhibit the hatred towards their work and place they work ? Or do I ever understand her true intention; entirely ?

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