Woolen Blanket

Sunita Giri 9:41 AM |

Truth be told, I am not that comfortable to stay overnight with a friend’s place. It could be my habit or this is something I have hardly done as a child growing up in Bal Mandir. Going out and staying overnight was not the common practice there. It is hard to say why we never spend our night with anyone's place. Is it not sure that, we were not invited or we were not allowed to spend night at our friends place. Couple of years ago, I have been to a friends place for a lunch and something happened  that day which caused me along with other friends of ours to spend night at her place.

That night I was in for a shock, when  she offered me only one blanket to sleep with.  I still remember asking her, just one quilt ? won't it be cold ? Now, it was her turn to be surprised with my question. yes and one will be enough, she responded.  Our bed were prepared on a floor of a room. Four of us slept in a row. Because we were four, so I did not feel that much cold even with only one quilt to cover me for the whole night. Indeed, after some time I even felt hot in the group of people.

Why was I surprised with just one quilt ? Because I never ever settled for just one quilt or blanket to cover me during winter time. Perhaps, it's because when I was growing up in Bal Mandir we always use three blankets to cover us during winter season. Of that three blankets, one was wollen blanket, second a cotton quilt and then the  third one is itchy blanket which we put on top of all. So, when she handed me just one, it was kind of cultural shock for me to believe what she was doing. I have never went to bed with just one blanket to cover me.

As a child, I do not remember other blanket touching my night body, but Woolen blanket, which used to keep us warm. Cotton quilt only worked with woolen blanket but not alone. As far as I can remember, all the two hundred children in Bal Mandir had the woolen blanket on each bed. It was a lot softer and warmer compared to cotton quilt that is widely used here in Nepal in every households.

The knitting of it used to be very basic, even a person who knows basic knitting can make those colorful patches. Each blanket was made with about hundred such colorful patches. Each patches  used to be about 6x8 in size. Then it was neatly stitched. Some of the blanket have properly rimmed from the all four sides and some were left without being rimmed. It was easy to use, fold and then cover in our body. I really don't know, why, I still feel the softness of it after all these years.

The question is who made those woolen blanket ? I just happen to know the answer also and the answer is, jail mates in US made those blanket. I do not remember having two way conversation with anyone about it, but, somehow this line have stamped in my mind. I guess I must have heard two adults talking about it when I was still too young to know the importance of this conversation.

Now, when I am full grown one question bugs me and that makes me  wonder why the jail mates in US has to do the community work for the children in Nepal ?  why do we not have people in our  society who acts responsible for the mess this society face ? and why the people as far as US has to do this for us ?

Could this be our religious believe that bars our people to act responsibly ?
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Surprise in the pocket

Sunita Giri 3:28 AM |

Nepal is hit by earthquake and now the hard hit victims are facing the brutal cold under the temporary shelter. I have been reading it on facebook coming from  all sides how difficult it's been to those who still could not move in their home after all these months also. I also have been reading that some givers are dumping the clothes in the name of giving.

In recent years, I myself have been through the hard time so It's been so long that I have not been in the position to give my clothes. Earlier than this, if I gave it never went to that far to the unknown people. It was a lot easier to manage my used shoes and clothes. All of it used go to my friends and they never mind when I gave them my used clothes. Honestly speaking, this is my first giving that is going to those whom I do not even know.

As I was packing some give away clothes some childhood memories of mine made me to leave some coins inside the pockets. Luckily when I looked for some coins, I had some so I did that. Must I do it ? that I really don't know, but I like leaving some coins in all the pockets.

Suddenly, that simple act of mine took me to that time when I was a young child and growing up in Bal Mandir. About 200 children have got new coats. that was a donation from foreigners Word coat tells me that it must have been winter time. I must have been too young to remember everything in details but I do have some blurry memory of it and some clear like mirror. As they tried on those coats and put their hands in pockets almost every child started shouting with joy that they have found something inside the pocket. Some children frisked some coin and some even found some rings and necklace inside the pockets. Some were digging deeper in their pockets to find something and there was something in every pockets not to disappoint every child -maybe.

Some of them asked to the room nannies first, with sheer excitement.  The excitement of those were high who had founds some foreign coins and rings and some even founds necklace. Some of it was gold and silver but some of it was pure coated gold. Those who found the rings and necklace now wanted to know whether it was gold or not. Some of the children were confused that, should they trust their nannies, if it was gold or even with house mothers ? Will they get a chance to keep it for them if it was real gold or silver ornaments ?  Some of the children started to rub the pricy metal in their hands fast. They say, if it's gold you can't see the blue marks in your hand. if it was a fake gold then the blue marks can be seen in our palm.

Earier than this, I did not know the easy way to check the originality of gold or silver. Now  after many decades later even writing this makes me smile. Why did I wanted to know it, when I was not even ten years old. These are not the stuff for children but for adult’s pride and prestige or it could be beauty accessories for many of them.

Although, I heard all this but I do not remember how much coin was inside my pocket  and who all got a chance to keep those coins, rings or necklace. I remember Junkiri saying in the later years the house mother, Kedar Shrestha kept some of those pricy ornaments like necklace  and rings but she never returned to the children, who naively had gone to check the originality of it.  At this very moment my mind is racing what color would have been the ginni made ornaments ? Will it leave the blue color in hand or not ?

My give away clothes are gone now and me not being the ornament lover, I didn't have the rings of any kind to leave in the pockets.  Why there was coin in almost every pockets ? It may be the superstition to leave something inside the pockets when we give it out for other but I would like to keep that superstition. Truth be told I am not even superstitious person but when it's harmless like this one what's wrong following it ?

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Pass on the good deeds

Sunita Giri 5:29 AM |

There are some people in our life and we are so indebted to them, all we can do is say thank you.  saying this is so easy but there was time I waited for  the time to return him  the goodness he gave me in my life. I was not smart enough to know, kindness and good deeds should be passed on and we should not wait right time and way to say thank you to those people whose gratitude awash us.

It was the year 90, when Bernhard came forward to pick my college bills along with other cost that will make sure I have no problem going to college. he came in my life out of nowhere. Truth be told he had gone to Bal Mandir and expressed his desire to help a young student to send to college. I so happened to be in her mind and just like that I was picked. That sure made my only dream of that time; of going to college, a lot easier. This stroke of luck, made others from Bal mandir so jealous of me. Honestly speaking, that was so satisfying feelings I have felt, because you know I come from that background no one is envious of our life.

In the beginning, I thought he was picking my college bills all by himself. But, after two years he told me that he has been asking money, with his friends on his birthday instead of gift for himself; so that he could help more children to get better education after Bal Mandir. He helped me to finish my graduation and wanted to support my further study until masters degree but I was not interested in higher study. I thought, I am in Nepal and more educated you are more frustrated you become and I did not wanted to end up as a frustrated educated person.

During that four years of my college life, I was so grateful to Bernhard for what he did to me. Not surprisingly, I wanted to thank him or give him some gift that would please him. sorry except good marks on my report card as I was never a bright student. In my teen stupidity, I also used some money to buy gifts, a window craft by locals here. Sure, that money was also I have saved from the very money which he used to give me for my full study [ room rent, food cost and total study bill].  I still remember, bewilderment in his eyes and saying that I don't want any gift from you, all I want is your good health and do good in your study.

That was not normal for me. See, I grew up in Bal Mandir and no one gives you anything without something in return. But he did not want anything from me except my good health and me excelling in college. I was not a bright student to get good marks and still Bernhard never pressured me for good marks in my report cards. After seeing my marksheet which was not so good for a person who was studying on sponsorship budget; he once told to encourage me, marks could be decisive. That simple line stamped in my mind forever. Over the years, I came to know that I can't do anything for Bernhard. He do not need anything from me in return for all the good he did for me.

We became very close over the years. I used to tell him everything that used to happen in my life and I make sure he gets all my news from me before any other wants to become my spokesperson. We stayed in touch for another 20 years. We still meet whenever he comes to Nepal. Whenever we catch we have lots to talk and share with each other and we catch up from the point where we left last time. Sure, we forgot some boundaries of project v/s life. It took me long time to understand I was part of his big project and there is whole life apart from Bernhard in my life. His project grew with every passing years. Today, there are more than 76 children in his education project and more than 100 student have already been passed out from college until now.

Me not being a bright person, it took me long time to get it that we should not waste our time waiting to find the right opportunity to say thank you to the person who did good in our life especially when we can't do anything for them. Instead we should find our own ways to pass on the good deeds to others. This is the only way and the right way I can say him; thank you in real sense. So, now I know what I need to do. I do exactly what he did to me.

Just like him, I will ask money with others and then give it to those who needs it for better education. If he has done this for 200 then I will do this for 2000 children. Stupid me why didn't I get it earlier, I should have started long time back. But, I think Bernhard was of my age when he picked me up; therefore, I think I am not that late.

Bernhard is that rare man in my life, whom I love, respect, admire, like and loop up to. This is not something every man gets from me.

Bernhard is my that single perks of life for being raised in Bal Mandir that changed my whole life or at least the way I see life after knowing Bernhard.
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