You dare not dream

Sunita Giri 11:12 PM |

It could have been somewhere around the time when I was in seventh or eighth grade. Just when I was in my early teen years, definitely not the time I would have been any curious to know about the marriage or the dream associated with this union.

It all started when a new male staff joined the nutrition food division, which office is within the premises of Bal Mandir. I am quite not sure, what triggered him to get the idea about it - he wanted to marry a girl of his choice from Bal Mandir so but he made his desire public to the NCO and the other people in management channeled this news to the girl named Usha, who was only about a year or two senior than me. For some unknown reason, when the offer came to Usha didi’s hand, she resented this idea.

Adult around us, took her response in very negative light. When I say adult, whether they were educated who were in management or staff at the NCO or the illiterate nannies or junior staff of the Bal Mandir had one voice in unison that she did a blunder by rejecting the offer for marriage. Now, I know why so; but then I did not know, why they reacted that way. It our culture, it was considered -  not just then but even today  - it is presumed that girls in our house should not have their opinion or choice, when it comes to selection of their life partner. Undoubtedly, Bal Mandir being a part of the very society was not excluded from that kind of strong reasoning. But, then I thought; it was a practice that used to take place only in Bal Mandir.

I used to think that Bal Mandir was one big place where narrow minded people and conservative ideas prospered in as they used to put their head together all the time. And why not it was a place as big as a small community with more than 200 people around all the time. This alone was a big society in itself and it was the 80s era in Nepal.  

The guy was from the brahmin family and just was back from some kind of battle zone where he had lost his one eye during the war, but; it was well fitted with glass eye and hard to differentiate from the fake one or real eye. Although, I did not have adult’s eyes, but as far as I can remember him, he was irritatingly good looking guy, who was tall, fair and yes may be handsome if only I had seen him with a writer's keen on observation eyes and who was mature enough to understand the good look.

Nannies started voicing it loudly, as always that used to be over reaction from their sides; saying that, she should not have been so choosy about who would be her life partner; when she was picked up by a man who had a steady job and a family. What a girl  a girl who is living in Bal Mandir could ask for more than that rather than a steady life partner and a good husband ? She should just be thankful and accept it for someone coming forward to ask her hand.

What was ignored then was, she was still in school and had not finished her high school. Now a days we call them child who are only in their mid teen years. Girls who were old enough to handle the little bit of household chores, as soon as they grow tall enough to carry a bucket full of water, were viewed as marriageable age then. It was also the time girls were least expected to go to school and college for better education. They were supposed to depend on men for all their needs in life, for good or bad. Men were protector and provider that weakens the position of women as a whole. When she was only in teen, she should not have her own dream of life partner, marriage of life after that.

I think she would have been labeled as feminist in today's time for having her own opinion and choice and not bowing it to adults who liked dominating girls/women in the name of their own better life. But, it was not the time they were called feminist, instead they were regarded high headed, stupid girl from Bal Mandir.

Today, when I look back to understand after about a quarter of a century later, it seems that many things may have changed but not everything. There are still some marriage when men are viewed nothing more than protector and provider which is the reason why they think they can pick up the girl of his choice regardless of her interest in him. Not every girl wants a man to be just a free ticket to meal and security blanket for her. Some also marry for love and respect and also to find her own space within the marriage which is very rate in our society. I have seen men who love but don't respect women in their life, they diligently provide the one who are in home but love wholeheartedly love to somebody who lives outside the door yet expect her wife to keep quiet in return, because; he has been providing and meeting all her needs. Pity, sympathy, protector and provider are not sufficient for a lifetime union like marriage. But then there are people who will be ready to argue all the time that marriage is a compromise and no doubt there are all types of need and all kinds of person to have their say and choice to live life.
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Teenage sex

Sunita Giri 12:12 AM |

Its been couple of weeks now, I have been writing about the teen age sex and hyperactive behavior related with teenage sex or sexual activities, which I have grown watching during my time in Bal Mandir. I talked about how hyper the caregiver or the housemothers were and how they treated to those who were considered overtly active in experiencing the feel of the sex at that very young age. At one point it was understandable because that was the time abortion was not easily available nor the other protective methods were available easily in market like today.

Talk of sex has always been regarded taboo [then and now], so there was no talk about it and people always avoided talking about sex. Sex education or awareness about it was unheard of the subjects then. However, people were judged even for showing curiosity in this subject matter forget having affairs with boys. All we have to talk is to turn somebody who were as raw and inexperienced as we are. No good books on this subject were ever handed over to us. Direct physical involvement was regarded as characterless and judged by that one act for entire life. But barring it only added curiosity and some ended doing it secretly, anyway this is very private affair to invade too much in somebody’s private life.

But, it was never about how to educate the young child about sex, or its consequences later on. So, that they could avoid the common trap and mistake, which is faced by every parents in every continent in the world of all generations. Even today prevention from the   consequences of affair is regarded as character issue than mere stupid mistake teenagers are known for.

But here I am more interested to know, are adult always right to presume that teenagers always make mistake or do they have to be hyper reactive and hyper protective about the sexual activities teenagers involve in ? Personally, I think some time they just need to relax and understand the teenagers way of handling it and see how things move ? When they worry about the lack of knowledge in teenagers ? Do they always make the mistake when they tangle in unwanted relationship or . here is what I have learned in my growing years.  Sometimes teenagers do teach us adult lot more than what adult can preach us whole life. Here are two such case.

I remember watching the movie Juno a story of a British teenage girl. It is about a sixteen year old girl’s journey to her pregnancy period and her way of handling the case without any adult helping her to tell her do this or do that. She got pregnant after a playful hour she spent with her boy friend who was as old as she is. They were in the same class.

At the age of sixteen she gives a birth to baby when she herself is a child in every manner but the whole movie tells us more than teenage sex or a mistake that make a girl a mother overnight. Just because a girl becomes pregnant do we have to be hyperactive or judgmental to the cases like this ? Are teenager  in need of help or adult also make the same kind of stupid mistakes all the time, despite their grown body but not developed brain ?

Although, the story of Akash* is a lot different, than that of Juno in the movie. In his teen years and even now, Akash is very much regular guy. I thought, Akash was the type of boy who would marry early in his life and then have houseful of children before the age of forty; or that's what I have the image about him in my mind. He is very jolly fellow like any other guy on the street and very much regular guy. Besides that he used to date with number of girls in his teen years. One of the girl Akash used to date was a girl named Sharmila*, with whom he fell in love.

To me the only unusual thing about him today is, he is still unmarried, which made me very curious about it. I just wanted to know why this jolly fellow is still not married ? Because this is very sensitive issue and very private and personal affair by all means; and at the same time, I do not have habit of poking my nose into somebody else bedroom stories also. But may be luckily, I do have friends, who don't mind digging and sharing private matters with their friends. This also could be the case every best friends have another best friends. However, for this being private affair, It took me more than twenty years to know about the truth.

The truth that really makes us think hard about the teenage sex being just unprotected sex   or fear factor associated with it. Teenage sex is more than curiosity or experience the feel of sex nor it is always stupid mistake. It speaks very much the same language as for the adult and it binds the couple in its power. Its a story of a young couple who were in constant physical relationship during their teenage years. Well, in this case she did end up being pregnant, as he seem to be knowing about ‘safe sex’ at that young age ! Or maybe both of them were sexually literate than others of their age.

After high school, their way got separated and Sharmila have to leave country, while Akash left behind. During the following years they were in constant touch but slowly the communication was reduced to nil. Although, they are not my close friends, but due to the vast  circle friends we enjoy in Bal Mandir, I always have tits and bits of their news in my hand.

In their adult life it so happened that, both of them could not let go of their first love; but, it affected more to the guy than the girl. Just a couple of years before I came to know that Sharmila got married with a foreigner, when she was in her early forty and it was her first marriage. Sad news for Akash, even when she moved on with another man after taking long time to make her mind. He still have not been able to move from his past memories.

Sometimes adult just have to hold the urge to preach and then learn what teenager can teach us with their mistakes.

* Names changed to protect privacy.
And please read the earlier post to understand more in detail about this post, Fear and Intolerance.

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Fear and Intolerance

Sunita Giri 10:43 PM |

In my last post I wrote about the hyper reactive about the sex or sexual activity teenage girls faced, when I was growing up in Bal Mandir. During my grown ups time when I looked back and tried to understand it when they were like that what I learned did not seem much of what I wanted to find the answer I hope you have read it but, that kind of reaction could hot have been interpreted in a way, that they were really concerned, protective or worried about the teen pregnancy.

At some point it really can be understood, why they try to opt for one rule  for all when they don't know what is the best and safest way to protect more than fifty  teenage girls and which reached to that age every year. But;  hoping to dissuade them with telling them the story that tells only negative side of it, rather than educating them about the good and bad side of it, has a lasting impact in the mind of young girls. How it could have so bad impact in their mind and their perceptive about it, in future may have a tremendous effect   to teach us and can create whole lot of problem when the same child grows to be little big but no clarity about it. We all know that that sex has good and bad side they why society is intolerance about taking the initiative about the problem that comes with it ?

It did not took much time for me to see it, but I have to be honest here; I did not know about it then, what was that and why there was such reactions. Its only when, I travel back in my memory lane, this particular incident have a lot more to teach me about the sex, sexual behavior, fear, lack of education, intolerance. There was no doubt that, the young children were taught to hate sex or keep a distance with opposite sex. However, in reality that never happen not only in my or your generation but before and after our teenage time the same fear and preaching was there and will be there around the globe. Yet, there are people who keep preaching about it all the time. Because they were told sex is bad and the attraction towards the opposite sex is not viewed as good until one is married even to unknown person; and the physical relationship is worst form of sex during courtship.

During my last years in school life, it was not about the teenage sex instead it was about two adults who were in relationship. I am not quite sure the man was already married or even this particular lady was married or not. There were many room nannies who were widow or left husband due to abuse at home. What I knew then was, they were not married and if i have to believe the rumor mill then, the room nanny was pregnant. It so happened that this room nanny was in my room which was also called big girls room. There were about 20 teenage girls and they study from eighth  to tenth grade. Prior to her pregnancy, just a couple of years ago, she was one of those who were so cynics towards the girls who used to be cozy with boys with their age.

When I look back and try to understand, I think it was quite normal, if she was worried about the situation, in case if she was pregnant then. It was 80s time in Nepal and the abortion was not easily available in those days, even if she wanted to terminate it to save her from public humiliation.  

Now we have read so much about it that the first three months time is very emotional to the would be mothers. Instead of getting emotional support from her man, which was one of the cook in Bal Mandir. There were four cooks but I am confused which one was she was having affair. I guess both of them feared more about the result of their intimate relation than save their relationship. There was also hushed rumors that she had taken the herbal medicines to abort her pregnancy, which I ‘heard’ did not work. So her worry was mounting. In the coming weeks and months her behavior changed radically I don't know the soft side of her but  her reaction became so stranger than it really should have been.

She was irritated with everything and everyone and to the careless teenage girls who lived in their own self-centered life they paid much attention to the emotional changed she had going on and instead the reaction was much different than it should have been. She started using more obscene words when she was angry. It was not new that that nannies use those words now and then but with such comfort and regularity was something so not expected especially when the twenty and odd number teenage girls were always around her. Both side got more and more irritated intolerance towards each other.

What happened next was stunning. One day when we were having morning meal before school again she burst in one of her obscenity and then it became the last nail on the coffin and then all the girls not just from the one she was nanny resented it and voiced it. In general the normal brawl can be sorted out by housemothers at any given time. But in absence of the oldest housemother Kedar Shrestha who was on leave, it became out of control and the office managers and top level officers were needed to be in the Bal Mandir before the office hour started.

During my fourteen years of stay in Bal Mandir it was the first of its kind that top level officers and managers were needed to come to the office before office hour to sort out the clash between nannies and children. When they hear the both side and they found   Shanti Didi guilty of charge and the managers took the decision then and there to terminate her from her duty. She had to pack it and leave it within hours.

I did not know it then but now I try to understand, why she was so scared all the time ? why so fast decision from the managers ? perhaps the answer to my question is fear and intolerance when it comes to sex or sexual activity within the boundaries of Bal Mandir and real boundary was our thinking ! what is really interesting is this is really have not changed much even after twenty five years later.


Note : to understand this post in detail please read the earlier post What is sex, taboo, fear or intolerance ?

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What is sex, taboo, fear or intolerance ?

Sunita Giri 11:10 PM | ,

When I was growing up adult around us, especially ladies; were hyper concerned about we young girls mingling with men of any age. It was not something viewed as normal in any way. They were dead scared about the sexual activities amongst the young children who would have indulged in their teen or pre-teen years. Most of the staff were unnaturally scared about this particular issue and so they used to fill our young mind about the fear associated about sex. Honestly speaking about it, Fear of physical contact or possible molestation was injected in our mind long before, we could even understand what exactly was the meaning of sex is or what the word physical relations meant.  Some of my friends who were having affairs during their teenage, were regarded as the one with loose characters. Their ‘boyfriends’ at times used be the sole subject and reason they were judged and humiliated, in front of others children despite their all other good qualities or good grades in school. And sometimes, even if they were serious about it. I do remember, in my teen years, I was regarded as a ‘good girl’ by some women who worked in Bal Mandir, just because I was never interested in boys/men like my friends and my other flaws was ignored like I was never meek, obedient or disciplined. These qualities just ran from me.  

Before we learned about the meaning of word sex or reproductive science, we were infused about the news of men bring ‘bad’ who come in all size and shape. I remember a housemother  losing her sanity when she tried to unclothe the two teenage girls, who were ‘spotted’ having cozy times with men [god knows who] or it was reported they were ‘seen’ with them. In my vague memory of a young girl [I was younger than twelve]. I see an agitated woman Sabitri Basnyat the most notorious housemother,  Bal Mandir ever saw. She was infamous due to her brute language and crude  behavior. Needless to mention, she was shouting at two girls who were standing in front of her with their heads down, scared and dejected. I cant remember any particular dialogues in this case nor I remember who the men was. Although, I can't remember the clear questions, but the memory of it really haunts me even today. I remember those two girls name clearly and the shout, scream, accusation, and tough interrogation demanding to know the answers of plenty questions. The kind of rough handling to young girls and her ever insulting and humiliating behavior exhibited by Sabitri Basnyat, towards those two girls refuses to leave my mind even today.

Because, they were in the medicine room for check up ‘virginity text’ or something like that; otherwise why on earth they were in medicine room ? I was  watching it from outside the room or maybe I have entered in the room, when all this was happening. It was Bal Mandir in early 80s and showing a little bit respect to the children who lived there was something unheard of there fore one has to go on public for even a private affair like sex.
These two girls, lets call them Meeta and Binita were on holiday after failing to their nursing training. Perhaps, they were almost in their late teen years and used to go to one maternity hospital for some work then. The way they were treated then, makes me wonder to ask a question now; were adult around us really protective or they feared about the unwanted teen pregnancy in the months to come. But, that kind of behavior cannot be interpreted as hyper protective or fear of uncertainty. One thing for sure, I am sure it was not the both, instead was something different. Today, when I am full grown and look back trying to understand what is that ? I can sense there was some kind of hatred and intolerance towards all those children. the truth is that and it was not limited to only those who were regarded as ‘sexually active’ and ready to mingle with any guy at any given time which is a teenage issue around the world.  I still try to understand what they were doing with those two girls ? I doubt they were anywhere close of being either protective or fear of sex.  

That kind of disrespectful manner to treat a problem of and trying to unclothe them forcefully is so insulting and humiliating, rather than; simply asking them it in decent manners but decency was so alien words to us then. Not surprisingly that behavior made me feel so angry and disgusted towards the housemother, therefore, I wanted to inject long injection syringe which was kept on the pan for boiling after its use. I not only wanted to stab it into her fat arms.  not just that I wanted to break it there so it will be hard to yank it off.

Interestingly, Sabitry Basnyat was having an extramarital affair, with a man who was married and have already five children of his own. He used to visit her regularly in Bal Mandir and their daughter Pratibha [who is in police force now a days] was conceived when she was serving her term in Bal Mandir as housemother. Later she switched her 24/7 service to the office area making it 9 -5 only, when her pregnancy could not be hidden and she was taken to the same house where her step resided with her children. Oh yes, she married the same old man.

Today; when I look back and try to understand, was that kind of hyper reactive behavior had true intention to protect us from unwanted situation ?  I really doubt so. Many times, it was pure insult, humiliation and intolerance towards the mistakes [we made]; during our time in Bal Mandir.  It never matter who made the mistake, or what kind of mistakes we made. Because, it was simply assumed we just should not make the mistake.

Has that kind of behavior have ever been successful to keep young children not to be attracted with opposite sex ? Again, I doubt so nor it will ever work, not just in Bal Mandir, because sex is universal truth and fundamental rule of creation of life and children will always made mistake across the world and there will be new way to sort out the problem like condoms or prevention from pregnancy at early stage. But those who make the mistakes will be judged by this all the time. However,  at the same time this is an issue adult has to face in every generation like we eat food for survival.

There was a guy, who I thought will marry and become the father of six children before forty. But he is still unmarried, which made me very curious about this. I just wanted to know why. I came to know about the truth after long time and it has a link of his childhood sexual relationship with his girl when he was not even sixteen. I am told by the best friend of this young couple, that they were in constant physical relationship. Good for them, they knew about the ‘safe sex’ when they were in their teen years ! It so happened that both could not let go of their first love; but, it have more emotional impact and he could not forget his 'first love'. It must have taken him to understand the importance of sex, is language of love and which is biological action and helps to maintain emotional bond between two partners. Sad news for this guy, she moved on with another man. She was over forty when she married first time] after taking long time to make her mind. It all happened when she left Nepal for more than twenty years ago. He still have not been able to move from his past memories.
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