Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Budi... and a touch up on Manesa and Babu (Manish #2)

Two blog posts in one day?? Holy rollers. It's true. I thought I'd touch on a few of the kids that we haven't talked about much lately, starting with the not-so-newly-arrived-now fam of Samjana, Babu, and Manesa. Remember when those random people showed up one day and Laxmi said they were going to be living at the orphan home with us? As it turns out, they have snuggled in quite nicely. Mama Samjana turned out to be my age (24) with her first baby being 1 1/2 year old Babu (seemingly unheard of in this culture, I feel). She has gotten herself into the daily life of chores and schedules just as we had after the first few weeks at Harka, and Babu hardly even cries anymore. In fact, Babu is hilarrrriously cute and pudgy and smiles near consistently. Samjana is trying to teach him all the English words she knows, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't even speak in Nepali yet...so go her! Though it may be just a rattling of "Hello, Thank You, Welcome" you have to start somewhere!

Little 5 year old Manesa is still a little bit into hitting children younger than herself, but she is definitely also a heart-winner. Though she arrived with Samjana and Babu, she is actually an orphan herself (still unclear as to why she arrived with them), but nevertheless Samjana has "adopted" her into her little family of two (as much as you can adopt while living at an orphan home). As Samjana is a world away from Kumari as far as loving goes (I'm convinced Kumari is incapable of love. That has to be it.) , Manesa is a sweetheart. She takes our faces in her hands at least once a day to kiss one cheek, then the other, then our noses before asking us to do the same. Upon completion of the nose kiss she chirps a little, "Thank you!" and giggles. Though yesterday she threw a tantrum half of the way to school, I'm sure it was just a matter of having no school uniform. Manesa seems unlike the other orphan children in that she appears to have come from a better family, so I really wish I did know her background. She is a very big girl, well-fed looking, and has a comprable knowledge of English (ABCs, 123s, etc.) that makes me think she must have gone to school before coming to Harka. Hopefully we can find out more about this from Laxmi sometime...

And finally, Budi. Evidently we pronounced this boy's name incorrectly for the first 3 weeks of living at Harka and have suffered the consequences ever since. Not from Budi, no he is by far a gentle, easy-going spirit, but from the other children, who constantly make fun of the way we say it. Evidently it is pronounced "Bu-thee" not "Bu-di", except that he wrote it Budi- so how the heck else we were supposed to know?? I guess 'budi' is the word for brain. I wish I could tell him about Arthur the Aardvark's friend, his name actually is the Brain.

10 year old Budi has the sweetest smile, starkly white teeth glowing from his dark skin. It was actually his skin tone that made me wonder about him at the very beginning of our stay at Harka. I knew the caste system still existed to some extent in Nepal, but I wasn't sure how much. Then, one night by the fire Sirjana made a comment about "people like Budi" to which I asked what she meant. She meant Untouchable. It all made sense. Though Budi is not literally "untouchable", you can tell in the way he is treated by Kumari and Prim, and some of the older children, that it is just the slightest bit... different. I can't explain it. It's something we don't have, and I can't quite get a handle on. Because our culture tries to avoid labels (due to our social/political history of segregation etc.), it's hard for me to imagine a living in a culture where someone is labeled so blatantly, and their treatment determined upon that.

Not only is Budi an Untouchable, but after reading what Laxmi had of his history, we found that he came to the orphan home recently- in 2006- after both of his parents were killed by Maoists. It horrifies me to think that such a sweet boy could have seen his parents killed, especially because he was old enough to understand what was going on when it happened. Needless to say, he gets along with all the children at Harka, but can usually be found with Manish looking at wrestling cards or Radika wrestling/playing rubberband games. He gets the buffalo out of bed in the morning and helps collect the dung for the cooking gas. Mostly though, he can be found jumping around, playing by himself, and occasionally finding our hands to hold. Budi always calls us "Didi" whereas the other children float somewhere between Miss, Didi, and our actual names-a staple sign of respect and intimacy that is very endearing.

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