Print Edition - 2017-09-09  |  On Saturday

Stories of Nepal: Aftermath

- Jay Poudyal

Sep 9, 2017-The tendency of human stories becoming just data and numbers, especially after catastrophic natural disasters, alienates us from the emotional upheaval the survivors go through in order to survive the ordeal. Stories of Nepal: Aftermath is an extract from the photo series in the Stories of Nepal blog that focuses on how individuals and families are coping after the recent Tarai-Madhes floods in several districts changed the course of their futures. The series in its entirety also highlights the social ills that have marred development in many marginalised communities in the Tarai-Madhes. 

You can read the entire series at www.storiesofnepal.com and follow the conversation at www.facebook.com/StoriesNepal. 

Happiness comes and goes, sadness stays. That is life for me.” (Kanhanrup 6, Kanchanpur)

 

I never knew what it means to have a home. Father did not have any property and he and many of his friends settled where they could find some empty land. They wove baskets, raised pigs and made temporary huts with whatever was available from the forest. Maybe that was the nature of our community--to move from place to place. But today, I think it is because we are thought of as lesser beings than other people. And because no one went to school, poverty stayed with us and we could never get out of it. After being vacated from the land we were living in, we have now moved to this area by the road and I am worried that a time will come soon when we will be told to leave again. I can live anywhere because I have understood that this is how life is and will be, but my children are young and they do not understand. But no one sees our plight, we are right here, living on the roadside where people pass us by. It is like we are invisible to them.” (Joginder Marik, Birpur, Saptari)

 

My father did not have any land of his own. The rich people of the village did not want to talk to him or invite him to their house because he was from a ‘lower caste’. I remember we had to take the longer way to the market because we could not use the path used by the ‘upper caste’. I would see the other children walk that way and I wonder where it would lead. As I grew up I came to understand about our society. Even today, we are treated differently. We are still landless. My husband is a daily wage labourer and so am I. And because we do not have people in high offices and we have not seen school, finding work every day is not possible. If we work for two days, we are unemployed for three. And now with the baby, my husband is the only one working and that means less income. The problems are endless but I still have hope. I hope things will change for us and that my child will have a good future. I hope she will look after us when we are old and unable.” (Parbati Devi Sada, Kanchanrup 6, Kanchanpur)

 

Happiness for me is cooking what my husband likes, taking it to him to the fields and watching him eat.” (Savitri Devi, Birpur, Saptari)

 

Sometimes, I go to the corner to shed a tear; what am I to do, for the tears do not seek permission. And then she comes from behind and tells me, “The water is gone father, and soon the floor will dry out too, do not worry, nothing is going to happen to us.” (Suk Dev Paaswan, Hatkhola, Biratnagar, Morang)

 

After mother died, her sister brought me to Nepal. I was very young. I only have faint memories. In the age of innocence and playfulness, I was married and sent away to a new house where I was to look after my husband and his father and mother and a group of other relatives in the family. I bore three sons and a daughter. But one of my sons passed away when he was three. His departure was without any noise, but I cried in the corner. The doctor said, “The medicines cannot treat him, so take him home and wait.” I waited but his destiny was to die. The others have grown up and they have carried on with their own lives. I do dishes and mop floors wherever I can find work. My husband used to sell biscuits but he ran out of money and my sons could not help him with any funds. In this age, there is no son, no daughter. So he just stays at home and has decided to grow a beard to his chest. And this flood has taken away our floor, ceilings and walls. But it is the same hope that makes me wait for some good to happen.” (Gita Devi Yadav, Hatkhola, Morang) 

 

The relationship that I have with mother earth is bigger than any human relationship in my life. I have taken food from the soil and this very earth has soaked away my sweat and blood. My sons were born because of this earth. They have food because of this land. But to them none of it is important anymore. They do not understand. This world has changed them. And so, they have left. There is one who is still here. I know, his heart belongs somewhere else and he thinks of leaving too, leaving me behind to perish on this soil. This soil is where I came from, this is where I will go. And you too, Son.” (Sakharpura, Saptari)

 

To lie down in the shade of a tree, when my body aches after a day’s work 

makes me happy. To go back to work makes me happier.” (Chaudhari Aama, Lakhantari, Morang)

Published: 09-09-2017 07:46

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