• Patan dhoka, Lalitpur, Nepal
  • Jamuna Chanhara

    06.05.2020

    admin

    The Struggle away from Home
    Jamuna Chanhara, 50, worked in India for two years in Bengaluru as a house-help, and currently lives in her village in Mahendranagar, Far Western Nepal.

    Jamuna Chanhara worked in Bangalore, India, for two years, and returned to Nepal for her daughter’s wedding. It has been two years since she has returned to Nepal. One has to struggle in India, it is hard, she says. “It is a struggle – if you work you have to struggle. If you go to a foreign country it won’t be the same as your own home. But if you don’t work you don’t get to eat. They rob you on the road, and they keep bothering you.”

    “I was scared. I didn’t know the language. I was leaving my home and country to go to another’s place. But what could I do, I have to earn my bread.”

    Like the other women interviewed in this village, Chanhara, too, went to India with her husband, not alone. She says she didn’t want to leave her home and family, but had no choice, she had to. She says, “They (the employers) keep complaining, they scold at you. You cannot even spend the money you earned.” She worked in a household, as a house-help and her husband worked as a watchman, while her children stayed back in Nepal.

    Talking of her first time in India, a new place, she says, “I was scared. I didn’t know the language. I was leaving my home and country to go to another’s place. But what could I do, I have to earn my bread.” She worked in seven houses in a day, from five o’clock in the morning till one o’clock. She talks about how it was difficult to save any money. She earned very little – and whatever she managed to save was likely to be taken away by the local Police, sometimes or it just gets spent on making the trip back home. She can only think of the struggle when she remembers her time in India. “Just the sufferings—what else! They rob the hard earned earnings of a poor person—what would I remember. It won’t be like our own village. Even if one goes abroad, there is no happiness, but what can one do – you have to go even it’s just to struggle.” When asked if her employers treated her well, she says that while some spoke to her properly, there were others who were always nagging me about her work. They yell at her and say, “We pay you to work. What is it that you are doing?” She says she had to endure it all.

    “It isn’t any easier at the border. Sometimes people simply give you the wrong directions, while your heart is pounding with fear – wondering what could they do to you?”

    Bannerghatta, the suburb of Bangalore that Chanhara lived and worked in – is very popular with IT professionals from across the country. There are many Nepalis, from different parts of Nepal, who work in Bannerghatta. She says they did not all live in the same neighbourhood, but they got along well. She reminisces, “There was a woman from Bajhang. She had come with her husband. We spoke quite often. She used to come to our room and I used to go to hers. There weren’t any Rais.” In the two years that she spent in Bangalore, she did not learn the local language, Kannada, but managed to communicate with her employers in Hindi – “A little, not much. I can respond to what they say. That much I can do”, she says. She was too scared to go out alone. “ … I was scared to go alone. The roads were hard to recognize. I couldn’t even figure out the way to my own house. I would get scared.”

    The money that she did manage to save, she used to send home through a bank. She says that sending money through the bank was never complicated. Carrying money on oneself during travel – that was risky, she adds, as they get robbed. Most migrants, she knew, travelled to Delhi on a bus, and then went on the train to different parts of India. The Nepalis do not rob, it is mostly people from there – the locals, she declares. “It isn’t any easier at the border. Sometimes people simply give you the wrong directions, while your heart is pounding with fear – wondering what could they do to you?”

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