I just called back home to find out if Sangay had passed. She did. She came second in her class. I am happy for her but at her age, even if she came first, I wouldn’t be so much impressed. She is already twelve years old and just passed class one.
However, I take pride that she has matured beyond her age. My first babysitter had left for her home and I was forced to look for some alternative hand. My cousin brought Sangay as a replacement. The first day she came, I wondered if I made a mistake of bringing her home because she was just few inches taller than my two years old son. It looked like I needed another babysitter to babysit the babysitter. But Sangay was not new to this job. She was babysitting for a couple in Thimphu before she came to our place. While she stayed with the couple, she got run over by a car and nearly got killed. She was lucky though but her feet still bears a deep scar. She often complains of pain especially during the the cold. She also cannot hear properly. I often wonder if the slaps she got often spoiled her ears. The couple with whom she stayed felt uneasy after the car accident and returned her to her mother with few extra money. I guess the extra money was enough for all the trauma the kid has to suffer for the rest of the lifetime. I guess that’s what the compromise is all about. Sangay remembers the car running over her. I guess it is traumatic for anyone.
I don’t know how many times Sangay had got beaten when she stayed with the couple but when she first arrived, she looked very submissive. She had learnt many tricks during her last employment. She had learnt to engage baby with toys and sweet talks although she could not carry the baby. As a growing child, she was always hungry so she would sneak inside the kitchen when no one was watching her and often stole money from piggy bank which I came to know only when the shop owner near my house told me that she came with coins everyday to buy WAIWAI. While the devil inside me wanted to punish her, the reason got better of me. I spat fire, which was less devilish than beating her. Later, I brought her WAIWAI quite often when I returned from work and she seemed to have stopped looking at the piggy bank. In fact there was no money left there to steal also. Like many children of her age,
One day, some three months later, I happened to wake up early. I saw her looking out of the window. I realized that it was the first day of the school after the Winter break. Children , big and small, were merrily walking to their school. I saw Sangay looking happy too watching the children go to school. I asked her if she wanted to go to school and she nodded in silence. Later, during the day at work, my friend Tshering Zangmo and her friend Sonam Yangden, who are both teachers at Jigme Namgyel Lower Secondary School turned up in my office for some work. I requested them to help me enroll my babysitter in their school. They thought that I was joking at first but when I told them that I was serious, they promised me to talk to the Principal. Sangay’s luck had been bigger than her height. The Principal consented. That evening , my wife bought her all her school dress, bag, shoes and few books. She also had her hair cut and made presentable for the class. She looked nice. The next day, I had to wake up early to take her to school. When I got up, she had already worn kira herself and was ready for school. Although she looked old enough for preprimary , it gave me some satisfaction that she was going to school at least. I laughed at myself at the thought that she would be sitting with some finger licking kids. At school, the plastic chairs in her class were too small. There was no chair that fit her size in the market. It was either too small or too big. So she had to manage with whatever her class teacher gave her. She came fourth during her midterm exam and slipped to fifth during the annual. Teaching her during the first few months were the hardest thing that I ever went through in my life. so I respect teachers who can handle so much students. She was not very attentive and it was during this time that I lost all patience and had to resort to some corporal punishment of pulling her ears and tapping her forehead. Since then, she started to learn faster but I had been away from home for very long time and she seemed to have picked up her pace. She is second now in her class. But the question is for how long.
Every morning she would wake up early and go to school about an hour early so that she could play there. Very often she gave us a goose bump when she would return home late. fortunately, in all cases she would be found playing with her friends in the neighborhood. I just wonder sometimes what the parents of the children do when their son and daughter do not come home during the night without informing them. Many times I felt like I was in sea not knowing where to look. But as a kid, I was had the same problem. I would play with my friends and forget that my parents would be worried. I can understand why they pulled my ears then.
I am not very sure what her future has in store for her . Her father is in prison for coming in conflict with law and he is in there for good so her mother was forced to send her to work out of necessity. Back at my home, she has become a part of my family but I know for one thing that no one can ever take the place of the parents. I often tend to get biased and feel guilty that my focus is often limited to my son alone when it comes to buying toys and gifts. I tell my friends often when they talk of babysitters that we should think from the other side of the narrow pipe too. We need to be human enough to know at least why any parent would like to send their children to work as a babysitter by sacrificing their own child. They are just the victim of luck and circumstances. As a father, I wouldn’t like my son to work as a servant for anyone else. Interestingly, I have seen many employers fuss over Nu. 500 a month or lesser they pay to babysitters. In many occasions, cruelty is involved which is very sad. And there are many manifestations of cruelty. Many human beings are not so much Gentlemen and ladies as they are referred to. Maybe they should behave like one. While the employers don’t mind wasting money over doma, cigarettes and other extravaganza, they brood over the small money they have to pay for someone who cooks, laundries, shops and look after the kid. If there is any limitation, they are human being. You just send them home after paying what is due to them. Isn’t that a fair deal?
I don’t believe that Sangay would stay with us for very long time. But I am beginning to accept the fact that she has become part of my family for now. I have begun to accept in small pieces here and there that she would remain with us until she finds her own home. I have my own selfish expectations that she stays with us for long time but human side of me tells that I would be happy if she learns some good trade and can stand on her own feet. Of course we may have to provide leverage which is inevitable but I hope she turns out lucky for us to be able to support her.
For now, she has moved an inch in her life. She may have to fight the biggest battle with her age as she progresses but I am hoping that her luck do not snap at one point of time. She is like a small piece of steel. She will stand all hammering and force someone to shape her for what she is good for. I haven’t thought much about my own son now. He is just four and will be going to school soon. I hope the surrogate sister leaves a good trail to follow. But it is such a pleasure to make difference in someone’s life.Hope someone has better story to tell.