Showing posts with label story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label story. Show all posts

The Sishnu Chronicles – An Ode to 90s Parents and Teachers

10:05 PM
Writes: Bal Krishna

Growing up in Darjeeling today is very different than how we grew up. Today parents believe in raising their children in an environment so protected that even when they are wrong, they take a stand to protect them, and instead shift the blame on others. We didn’t have that luxury. Our parents believed in the hearts of their heart that only an anvil and a hammer can make a crooked iron straight. For them we were crooked iron that needed hammering every once in a while.

Among the very dreaded tools used to straighten us up, perhaps the “Bata ko Chapli –flip flops from Bata” was the most common, every mother would always have it “handy or feety” for they would be wearing them and whenever they felt the need, in a blinding movement, the chapli would be out of their feet and onto our head, before we even realized what happened.
“Pani le ta chora… go fetch some water son” mom would say

And being the lazy kind, I would respond, “aaachhhh ek chin ma lyaunchu – in a bit”…

All I would see was a moment of flash, and Bata ko Chapli ko chaap on my gala.

That would sort me out immediately, my vigour recharged… I would call out truce

“Khai jarkin… khai jarkin?”

I am sure many must have lived these moments.

God forbid if anyone had family in the army, they would bring back Kohlapuri Chappal and that was more painful, cuz they were made of pure untreated leather... more painful and much more effective than Bata ko Chapli :)

But even before the Bata ko chapli, some of the most classic tools used to straighten us didn’t need any external devices. I don’t know anyone from Darjeeling who hasn’t lived through the phases of Toksing, Thappar, Ghussi, Kaan Tannu, Khatana (hair on your temple) Tannu and Laat… I am certain; my mom could have easily taught Bruce Lee a shot or two from these wide array of handy means to subdue a wayward opponent.

I remember to this day my 1st ever Mukh Chyateko – the one where Mom would put her two index fingers into our mouth and pull them in opposite directions, till our mouth was on the verge of tearing apart and we’d cry for mercy. What an ingenious way to make a mukhale chora/chori learn some manners.

I was very young, must have been 5 or 6 years old, and we had a function in our house. One Gaon ko Badi called me and I must have pretended not to hear… so she called me two or three times and finally when I looked up she was annoyed, so she said, “eta munti bhaneko suninas? bring your butt here”

I was a little dumb to begin with when it came to manners, and my mouth would shoot off stuffs, without my brain registering it till about 5 seconds later. So habitually, without realizing what I was saying, I said, “Tapai nai muntinos na eta…why don't your bring yours here...” on top of my voice.

I could hear the whole room go silent. Literally, there was a hushhhhhh in the room.

I knew, I was in trouble.

Then Mom came rushing towards me, “K hare? Badi lai K hare?” and then she Mukh Chyatus mine… I have never forgotten that incident, cuz that aligned my mouth to my brain connection and I started to think before speaking out.

What a cure that was.

Ekkai khep ma jati bhaye mo.

Today, they say “corporal punishment” is illegal. During our times, our parents would make sure to tell our teachers, “Ghar ma tyaakai terdaina, Sir alik tapai le thik pari dinu hos ta…. He doesn’t listen to us at home, please teach him some manners,” and they would say that in front of us. Imagine a parent giving carte blance – blank cheque to the teachers to “Thik Parus” us.

“Kaath ko Feet – wooden ruler” was perhaps the most common tool to straighten a crooked student in school. From anyone making noise in the class, to not completing home work, to not wearing proper uniform – three to five hits from the “Kaath ko Feet” would be the standard cure. Next day, all homework completed, proper uniform worn, no noise making in the class.

At times they would put pencil or pen between the fingers and push the fingers together, oh the horror of it. I still shiver at the sheer ingenuity of that trick.

I honestly feel our elders were geniuses in Psychological treatment of a wayward child.

Then there was this one time, I was still a kid, on a Sunday, walking towards Chowrasta with two of my friends, and as we started to walk up from Club Side (right below Keventers), someone from the road above dropped a lit cigarette butt. I picked it up, and my friends dared me. So I took a drag. The moment I did that, they said they would tell my Mom, I had smoked a cigarette, and they did (they are no more my friends).

Once we arrived at home, my Chema found a piece of Kalo Polythene ko Pipe, and the beating I got that day with it. I haven’t smoked till today, and that incident has helped me turn into an environmentalist, for I hate everything plastic. No plastic bags, no plastic buckets, and more importantly - no plastic ko pipes around.

As I grew older, my nature and extent of naughtiness spiked. One time a few of my friends, my elder brother and I ran away from school (school bhagera) to go swimming. None of us knew how to swim, but we all went to a khola nearby. When we got back to school, it had been around 5 PM. Baba was freaking out as he had come to look for us raicha, school got off at 3:30.

Man the agony of knowing you are gonna get a nice licking and waiting for that to happen.

Baba was in the Artillery and he had this ceremonial belt, which he would polish and keep “tillikkaaiiii talkeko – shiming” everyday, and being a military man he was a gentleman. So once we arrived home, he told mom to serve us food and mom gave us “dui dui ota roti – two rotis” and sabjee.

If there was a world record for taking longest time to finish two rotis, my brother and I must have broken it that day. We took over 3 hours to finish the two rotis, but Baba didn’t rush us. All he would say every once in a while was “ajjhai dhilo kha timaru… tara aju huncha toh haru ko Puja – take all the time you need, but you can’t deny the inevitable”… and he was right.

Man!! What happened that night, I cannot describe, suffice it to say, I still don’t know how to swim, and I think its overrated anyway. Let me put it this way, the shinny Artillery belt cured me of my dreams of becoming Michael Phelps forever. I am naturally allergic to water now.

Paani dekhda pani tarsine scene :)

But the mother of all tools was Sisnu (Nettle) Paani treatment… especially if the sisnu was Bhangre sisnu.

Does anyone remember using Sigaan (snot) as a handy cure to preventing Sisnu le poleko rash? To be honest, the relationship between Shisnu and Sigaan is what makes God infallible for me... So Sisnu polus you, and you cry your heart out and become siganai-sigan, and use that very sigan to ease the Sisnu le poleko pain... God is a perfectionist...

But, if I have to count the number of times I fell on Sisnu, or mom used Sisnu paani treatment on me, I would probably need a barrel full of Sigaan to subside the pain hola.

Naughty as I was, in my teenage years, I came home drunk once, and mom found out. That day she experimented for real, starting from Bata ko Chapli to Jhadu to Kuccho to Dadu Kucchin jel, she eventually landed with Bhangre Sisnu picked up from our bari.

Amamamama 15 seconds into Sisnu Pani treatment I became fresh, and a minute into it, my long dead ancestors must have become fresh too.

I didn’t touch alcohol for the next 10 years, and even now I can’t drink more than a half-bottle of beer. That Sisnu Pani treatment comes flashing back, and I would love to avoid it at any cost.

Recently, I was surfing the net and was shocked to find out that Sisnu is actually a medicinal plant raicha and it is used to cure painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, anemia, urinary issues, baldness, as well as allergies and joint pain, promote lactation, stimulate hair growth, help control blood sugar in patients with diabetes, reduce bleeding connected to gingivitis, treat disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract. Sisnu is even used to slow the spread of Prostate cancer raicha. All you got to do is, dry the plant and then boil it and drink it as tea for a month.

Imagine, weren’t our parent’s geniuses? Giving us medicine, without us even becoming aware of it?

Indeed, times have changed, and today people are more “sophisticated”, but thanks to our parents and teachers and their earthy sense of right and wrong, that has helped shape us into becoming who we are today.

Having said that, my Mom still tries to impart her “Bata ko Chapli” discipline on me, and I love it.... At times I just provoke her to see how she reacts, and every time her instincts guide her hand towards her feet, but now I can duck faster, while she swings slow.

What about Sisnu? You may ask…

Well as I was writing this, “Aju ta Sisnu ko Daal Khaun la Chora….” says Ama… I smile, with relief, of course, and say feebly “pakako hola ni?” unsure still :)

…and thus continues the Sisnu Chronicles…

[Dedicated to my brother Mohammed Asif whose pic, shared here, ensured that I wrote this article]
If you did enjoy reading this, please don't forget to SHARE... help us share some nostalgic cheer around.

Via The DC

Of Titaura and Kateko Suntala: School Days in ‪Darjeeling‬

10:48 AM
Writes: Bicky Sharma

Recently, during my stay in the plains, I would go around for a walk in the morning after waking up. What I would see were students waiting for their school bus on the side of the road, with a certain gloomy texture on their faces (obviously, my mornings would start late enough). It reminded me of the hills.

Having a nursery school just above my home, I witnessed a completely different scene here. The parents (usually moms), in their best appearance, come to reach their kids to school – holding their little hands and revising the lessons for class. The eyes of the kids start shining as they start meeting their friends and start approaching school. The kids enter the school with a smile and the parents still stay back outside the school having their share of guff-suff with the fellow parents. In fact, many of them make good friends in the process. The most amazing view is to see the kids walking “puldung puldung” carrying a bag of their size and a water bottle strapped around their neck – “naani parney LKG, jhola bokney 10 kg”.
Of Titaura and Kateko Suntala: School Days in ‪Darjeeling‬
School Days in ‪Darjeeling‬
The same kids return home with their parents’ after school with wai-wai, chocolates or tittaura in their hands, trying hard to frame their expressions in the short sentences of broken English. One could spend his whole day listening to a conversation between two classmates, embedded with lines like-“oi, tomorrow come fast okay” to “she kotharing (to scratch) on your face no?”

Takes me back to the days when I was at school.

Studying in Darjeeling has been one of the best experiences of life for me and it must be the same with everyone. From having the best of the teachers to the best of friends, your student life enriches you with all the best and funny moments, which you can only miss throughout your life.

You know you have studied in Darjeeling if you have treated yourself will the enthralling delicacies, that were mostly limited to the “bari ko dokans” outside the schools or certain selective shops.

Aludum, in its place, ranks the top spot in the list of all the delicacies. Every school has shops around it that would definitely sell aludum or some innovative derivates of aludum – like aalu mimi, aalu momo, aalu mama, aalu matar, and the list goes on. T momo, taipho, aalu thukpa, oranges sliced to half with spices sprinkled on them, slices of cucumber with acchar, tittaura (usually for girls), pepsi (ice cream of school times), sukkha matar (“class ma alchi laagda ko timepass”), beth gera, aaru cha etc were the things that school life enriched us with besides aaludum. We indeed used to take lunch from home that we finished within the first break itself.

How many of you haven’t made tattoos on hands with pen during school? There are so many things I remember vividly about schooldays. A school day itself would start with walking to school with your friends, meanwhile seeing students of other schools along the way. This little journey has in fact seen a lot of love stories, and even more “man manai love, man manai breakup” stories.

Every class would have monitors who would write the “talking names” on the board, where a few people’s name would proudly stand on the top every time; it would be me for my class, most of the times. Off periods would be the best part of the day, while break times would see serious games of chungi. Fights would often come up in class, which would end with phrases like “tero afterschool/after exams huncha”. I guess everyone has tried to bunk assemblies just for the heck of it, or bunk a class or two even.

Rainy season would see umbrellas piled up in the corner of the class and it would sometimes be a blessed feeling to sit through the entire day wearing wet socks. Forgetting an umbrella in that case was a usual affair. Coming to school or returning home during rainy season would be a strategic affair, putting every effort not to get wet. And sometimes you would have to use all your management skills to fit under an umbrella with two extra friends. Cold season had in its part a different flavour. It would be heaven to go outside in the sun after hours of sitting in the cold classroom.

From shaking hands with dozens of people while entering the class to banging the desks and singing songs during breaks, everything had its own share of happiness. One of my sisters from Loreto had however asked me to mention “favours”. I don’t know what it actually means, but the girls from Loreto would know, and if you do please mention it in the comments section.

The exchange of “Happy Holidays” and “Happy Dasain” before holidays, with all the happiness in heart; enjoying the end of the exams with your friends – everything captured in our hearts permanently, knowing that we are never going to have those times again.

The smiles that started to light up towards the end of the class, that would be brightest on Fridays of course, have been the most sincere smiles I have ever known. We all used to have a piece of cloth with us that would always be lying under the desk and would be used “jutta talkawnu” after school, before going home. No matter how smart you look before going to school, it’s a well known universal fact of Darjeeling, that you feel kind of “jhattey” while returning home. At least, the day would end with a shining pair of shoes and “chittikai mileko kapal”.

The whole school life story turns out to be a beautiful ode. Time has its monopoly over us and we fail to build a bridge over two different time periods; we can just manifest the memories – memories of hitting each other with chalks; memories of walking with two friends under a single umbrella; memories of cracking jokes with the teachers. The fragments of memories are held closely together to form a beautiful piece of happiness. The years of schooling at the most beautiful place of the world dissolves smoothly in your life to give it a beautiful colour.

Via The DC

A FICTION: The Day CM Wore Sikkimese-Nepali Topi

12:30 PM
Writes: Amir Gurung

“घाम चर्को लाग्दैछ... its getting hotter by the day”, mutters the village tailor in some far flung village of Sikkim. Nearby his son is meddling on the Android phone not paying much attention to what his father has just said. They are generations apart.

The boy seems to be engrossed in the phone and the old man mutters with a half angry tone, “के गरि खान्छ होउ यो केटा ले... how will you survive” The boy looks up for a while, shakes his shoulders, “टोपी सिलाउने विचार छैन मेरो... I am not going to stitch topis”. Then he goes back to his mobile…

The tailor looks up at the sky. In his mind he is thinking along these lines… sunny days means hot days, hot days means more people looking for topi, more demand for topi means more income and then we have all those good festivals coming up… aha! Business is going to be good now.

He looks down at the green house nearby his house. The organic डल्ले खोर्सानी, the रातो रातो अर्ग्यानिक टमाटर all ready to be made into some ‘Sikkim Supreme’ pickle product. He feels a sense of achievement.
The Day CM Pawan Chamling Wore Sikkimese-Nepali Topi
The Day CM (Pawan Chamling) Wore Sikkimese-Nepali Topi
He turns back to his son. “के गरेको मुबिल मा... what are you fiddling that Mubile for?”

“मूबिल होइन बाबा.. मोबाइल मोबाइल... हेइत कत्ति भन्नु होउ.. News पढेको बाबा Disturb नगर्नु होस् त .... its MOOBILE and not Muubile... how many times do I tell you that Baba? I am reading news, don't disturb me”

The tailor is hurt. Last time the CM was on one of his tours, he was impressed to know that he is still sewing the Nepali topi. The CM even wore it while addressing the people of the village. He looks at the boy and thinks, well, he knows more than me. Let me ask what the news is all about.

"के रैछ news मा... what's in the news?” The visible irritated boy tells him, “CM ले भनेको हामी चैं Sikkimese नेपाली हरे... अरु चैं सबै गोर्खे हरे... the CM says we are Sikkimese Nepali, while everyone else is a Gorkha”.

And then in the most emotive expression of the information he has gained from ‘intellectuals’ over Facebook, the boy explains to his tailor father, the difference between the Sikkimese-Nepali and the Nepali people living just beyond the Teesta. He tells his father how the other Nepalis are the "Gorkhas who came to be recruited from Nepal in the Gorkha Regiment and how the Sikkimese-Nepali were living in Sikkim from the ages past…"

By the time the son finished practicing his theory session on the ‘History of Sikkim and Beyond’, the tailor father is thinking deeply with his age old wrinkles twisted in confusion.

“ए ए ए ए तेसो भा अस्ति मैले सिलाको नेपाली टोपी CM ले लाउनु भाको थियो नि… त्यो चैं Sikkimese-नेपाली टोपी पो हो? So the Nepali topi which I had sewn and CM has won is Sikkimese-Nepali topi?”

The son is back on his Android. He is not listening. All he mutters is, “हेत्त बाबा तपाईंले बुज्नु हुन्दैन क्या. तपाईंलाई थाहनै छैन इतिहास चुप्पो लागि टोपी सिउनु होस्... ahhh Dad you won't understand much... you don't know our history... let it be.. focus on sewing the topis”.

Via TheDC

To Vote For a "Brighter Future," When All The Choices You Have Are "Dark"

9:26 AM
Writes: Bicky Sharma

“Dinu, uth na aabo. Vote haalnu jaadainas? Aaile duiso feri bhir huncha.” – shouts Dinu’s mom, to which Dinu replies “Jaadai garnu tapai, aaile keta haru sita awchu.” She then leaves for the polling booth, reminding him again to make it fast.

Dinu is a young guy. Just 19 years of age, thin and lean, he is a student at some college somewhere in Kolkata. He has travelled all the way to Darjeeling just a day before to cast his vote. To be honest, he has no interest whatsoever in the elections or voting, but then he didn’t want to miss the only nearest opportunity to visit home. Dinu maybe young and still at the learning stage of life, but then today he has to make an independent decision, he needs to decide who would represent him and his people.

Its time for Dinu to go for voting and he is waiting on the street below his home for Deepak. Deepak happens one among the two closest friends of Dinu, the other one being Chuppi, who happens lives “2 Golai” below Dinu’s place. Few minutes of wait on the street and a small bit of conversation with the neighbourhood ko ”badi”, mostly involving “ka chas, kasto chas?”, and Deepak arrives. “Chitto hin, Chuppi tala parkhi raako cha harey ” says Deepak and they move down the street towards the polling booth, collecting Chuppi on the way. Chuppi and Deepak, both are graduation students in the same college in Darjeeling itself. Deepak happens to be a serious and focussed guy and he is more
excited about meeting Dinu than the elections. Chuppi on the other hand is a “I give a damn” kind of a guy, not worried about most of the things around and happy to keep himself happy. His actual name happens to be Rajesh, but then, nobody knows him by that name, and he is as much worried about the elections as a goat is worried about chickens.

As they carry on their way, Deepak asks Dinu about whom would he vote. A small discussion tries to blossom, just when Chuppi interrupts,” k hawa hawa ko kura gari raako haw timaru.” The topic gets replaced by the planning of the three friends hanging out after a long time. Chuppi and Deepak flow with the conversation and the topic shuffles on to their college and its recent hot hearsay.

Meanwhile, Dinu has something else running in his mind. It is the first time he is going to vote and he at least wants to make it fruitful. He has heard people talking a lot about the contesting parties and all the criticisms and favouritisms come to his mind one by one, as he tries to calculate things as per his understandings. He has heard that the ruling party has been there for a quite a long period of time but haven’t been able fulfil their promise. What he votes them again and the same thing continues for 4 more years? Now he looks at another party, the ruling party of the state. The apathy of the state government towards his people doesn’t even make him think twice. Then he thinks
about the communist side of the list and the pain and agony of the past comes to his mind. He has heard that people his people had suffered to extremes during their tenure. Now, for the last choice,
the newly formed regional party comes to his mind. Dinu is not politically enlightened, but he is quite sure that the newly formed party is just a differently named wing of the state run party. He has
heard and read a lot about that and also assessed all the theoretical evidences. All the other names in the list are foreign to Dinu and he doesn’t want to waste is vote on NOTA either, as he has travelled all the way down for it.

The thoughts keep on bugging Dinu’s mind as they reach the voting area. The polling booth is arranged in a small primary school and it is surrounded by the uncles and aunties of the neighbourhood representing their respective parties, who remind the trio about whom to vote each time they cross one of them.

Dinu stands on the long queue waiting for his turn to come. The line soon leads him inside the booth and he still has nothing clear in his mind. A moment of wait before the voting machine and finally he does it. A long beep marks his exit from the booth and he reluctantly takes the voter’s mark on his index finger. We don’t know whom Dinu voted for.

Even Dinu doesn’t know if he did the right thing, but he hopes that his vote counts for the right of his people and place. Hopes that he has used his education and knowledge to help eradicate the darkness from the hills.

Bikal Rai gets a Laptop and Dongle as gift from Chief Engineer from Mumbai

8:51 PM
Sikkim 2nd April 2016 A person from Mumbai had called Bikal Rai more than four years ago after he saw a first Facebook post about Bikal Rai a self made engineer from Sikkim. After he called Bikal the man from Mumbai had a dream to do something for Bikal Rai. His dream came true when he met Bikal in Gangtok today. He gifted him a brand new Laptop and new Dongle.

His name is Jai Shree Ram he came to Sikkim from Mumbai to meet Bikal Rai. He gifted a Laptop and Dongle to Bikal Rai saying these gift for Bikal bhai is from him along with his two friends from Mumbai and a friend from Singapore. Mr. Shree Ram also gifted Rs. 7500 to Bikal Rai thinking that cash will help him to get his Dongle recharged some time.

Bikal Rai gets a Laptop and Dongle as gift from man from Mumbai
Mr Shree Ram also visited the home of Bikal Rai to greet his mother and to query about her health conditions. He's a Chief Engineer in Mumbai Airport. Shree Ram Sir has more dreams about Bikal Rai. He wants to see Bikal Rai in America someday and to make it possible, Shree Ram shared his views with Bikal Rai. Shree Ram also gifted a rechargeable lamp so that Bikal Rai can study in night, in case if there's no electricity.

Via Sikkim Messenger

Ever Enduring Nostalgia of Road Cricket in ‪Darjeeling‬

3:25 PM
Writes: Bicky Sharma

“Life is what happens to us when we are busy making other plans”- John Lennon.

When I look back in time I see a lot of changes that reflect in every aspect and dimensions of my life as well as the life of the hills. Fortunate enough, our childhood days didn’t see the arrival of computers and mobile phones and even more fortunate that a bunch of friends and one laal-patthar each were enough to call it a smooth day.

I look at kids these days and notice how they are indulged in gaming and social networking, they hardly know the fun of outdoor sports, unless of course it is a formal playing at school or sports clubs. Times were different when we were kids. Most of the time was spent outside and we had a variety of games and sports that kept us busy for the whole day.

If I went on talking about all the games that we had, it would take days and still wouldn’t be sufficient. I however vividly remember a few outdoor street sports of our time, just thinking of which gives me a beautiful nostalgia.
Nostalgia of Road Cricket in ‪Darjeeling‬
No cricket field? No problem! This was the "Darjeeling cricket stadium". Pic via nocrustnoproblem
Darjeeling is a football crazy place as we all know and it had an important contribution to our childhood. We would play football through all stages of a ball’s life- from a new ball to tubeless ‘bora haaleko’ ball with all cobbler stitches around. That doesn't mean we didn’t enjoy other sports. We had equal enthusiasm about cricket and we used to enjoy it to the fullest during the cricket season.

Life was not as easy as these days. Cricket bat used to be a rare kit and usually only one guy in a group would have a bat, luxury items of our time. And about ball, playing with a tennis ball would be a once in a blue moon affair, that too if we were to visit somewhere else for a cricket match (bet). Else, handmade balls (kaagaz/plastic ko) would compensate to the lack of funds and ensure that we never went out of play.

The ball, I must say required skilled hands and systematic process to get ready. The process started by selecting a perfect stone for the core of the ball, round and of the desired weight. It would then be wrapped by layers of paper, addition of each layer would be followed by the step of compressing it to make the ball compact. The endless supply of papers would come from the used notebooks of the past (asti ko paali ko khaata haru) or old newspapers. The last layer would be of that of a plastic to save the paper layers inside from the friction of the concrete road. When the ball would be ready with perfect weight and structure, it would be tied up with rubber bands all around, to keep it intact and give it a bouncy finish.

The only thing we needed to buy that way were rubber bands which would cost 1-2 rupees, the amount of money we used to get ‘mithai khanu’ from home those days, to which I am sure many kids these days would laugh. But those were the reality of the days, kids got see a beefy amount only on very lucky days. And sometimes when you didn’t even have that 1-2 rupees, the only alternative left would be to look for “katteko chungis”.

So now having everything ready, the cricket match would start (a serious one). Rules were simple: Generally, the off side would be closed (as for the fear of losing the ball down the off side). The bowler should be bowling round arm delivery without bending the hand (Toppay bowl not allowed). Wicket would usually be a big Tin Box (Pujari Tel ko), or a Chair or Pira held on to the road using a brick, or stump made of cardboard or sticks... and it would be the wicket keeper’s duty to remove the wicket if a vehicle came. The other wicket at the bowler’s end would be a brick. The game would be paused if the vehicles and people were to pass by. The run distribution would be declared in clear words “Straight ma sulkera goko Chauka, Urera goko Six, Maathi vitta ma laageko Duggi (two runs), Off ma sulkera goko run chaina, ball kattako out.”

And the most important rule “Joley kattawcha tesle Ball tipera/khojera lewcha”.

The ball would roll down the culprit side as many a times and searching for the ball would be a normal practice throughout the match. Most of the times, habituated to the exercise of looking for the ball, one would already know where to look first.

In our case, it was the root of a nettle plant where the ball would go and get stuck most often (sisnu ko jhyang vitra).

Failing to find the ball by oneself, the other guys would finally come down to join the search with praises and compliments like “Yesle ta aankha dekhay po ball khojthiyo” and “tero aankha ho ki aalu ho?”

The ball used to be an asset in itself, a way to the happiness.

What remain fresh are the memories of hitting the ball at someone’s roof to losing it into the drains; From making perfect balls for cricket, to making lighter version of the same to play luckoo/pittu (I don’t know what they call it in English or what other names they might use to refer to it).

The road now has beautiful houses on both its sides and no longer serves as a playground. The passerby no longer give expressions like “kasto maanchey hidney baato tira kheleko, aafnu aafnu ghar agari gayera khelnu ni”. Baato muni ko Badi no longer has to say “aabo ball aayo vaney chai kattai dinchu”.

Kids are safe before the screens and no longer need to find an explanation for the bruises on their hands or knees.

Via TheDC

Bhima & Puja's journey From child labour to Bengal's Under-14 girls' hockey team

9:14 AM
Vivek Chettri

Darjeeling, Feb. 16: Bhima Chettri and Puja Kachu were victims of child labour not too long ago. Today, the two youngsters are representing Bengal in hockey with Bhima even captaining the state's Under-14 girls' team.

Bhima, a resident of Rimbick in Darjeeling subdivision, was seven when she had been sent to Kalimpong, about 100km away, where she had to help a family in domestic chores. "I was told that I would be sent to school but that never happened," said Bhima.

Puja, from Mainaguri in the Dooars, too, was sent to Kalimpong to work as a domestic help at about the same age as Bhima. Puja's story was just similar: "I, too, was told that I would be sent to school but the family didn't keep the word."
Bhima & Puja's journey From child labour to Bengal's Under-14 girls' hockey team
Bhima Chettri and Puja Kachu Bengal's Under-14 girls' hockey team
Life was difficult for the two until help came in 2012.

Sister Subeshna Thapa, director of Bal Suraksha Abhiyan Trust, which is based in Kalimpong, and her team that has been fighting child labour since 2006 managed to bring a ray of hope in the lives of the little girls.

"We want the society to know their stories so that everyone can learn a lesson. In 2012, we approached the family where Bhima was being kept and convinced them that what they were doing was not right. The family agreed to let Bhima go. In Puja's case, we had to conduct a raid with the help of police and rescue her from her employer," said Sister Subeshna.

The two girls were sheltered at the home run by the trust and sent to St Michael's School in Darjeeling. The school changed the duo's life.

Prakash Rai, who coaches the school hockey team, said: "I must say the two girls picked a lot of hockey within a short span."

Such has been their growth rate that the two were among the six girls selected from Darjeeling district to be part of Bengal's Under-14 hockey team.

And it was no surprise that Bhima was made the captain of the Bengal team at the 61st National School Games, which was held at Ranchi, Jharkhand, from January 4 to 8.

Speaking over the phone from Calcutta, Krishna Mondal, manager of the Bengal team, said: "Yes, Bhima was the captain of the team and the two girls were good in their category. It would be great if they could come and stay in Calcutta and pursue hockey."

The team won two games but lost to Jharkhand in the quarter final.

Bhima, who studies in Class VIII, goes to her family once in a while. She has parents, four sisters and five brothers. In fact, just before she was to leave for Jharkhand, Bhima suddenly did not feel like going. "I really thank Sister Subeshna for making me realise the opportunity that lay before me," said Bhima.

While Bhima's family is aware of her success, Puja has never gone home after her rescue in 2012. "We have learnt that her father is no more and mother is untraceable. Still, we are encouraging her to visit the family before the school reopens. She is planning to visit her family in the Dooars this week," said Sister Subeshna.

Puja, a Class VII student, has three brothers and a sister.

Both Bhima and Puja practise about three hours at the school every day. "When it rains, the hockey team trains in the school hall," said Rai.

While hockey is providing a ray of hope to the young girls, the duo have not yet thought of pursing the sport professionally. Surprisingly, both want to join the police and for the same reason. "I want to be a police woman so that all the evils of our society can be ended. I think police can do much but in many cases they look the other way," said Puja.

Source Telegraph

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