Down the Mountains
From the zone which is home to the Sagarmatha, as Mount Everest is known in Nepal, Nirmala Dahal has made Bangalore her home. Until her children grow up.
I come from Okhaldunga district in Sagarmatha anchal. It takes 12 hours to reach my village from Kathmandu. The bus goes there now, but at the time of my marriage there wasn’t a bus. My parental home and in-laws are both in Okhaldunga. In my in-laws home there is my husband’s younger brother and his wife; his elder brother and his wife; mother-in-law and father in law. In my mother’s place my two brothers and their wives and children live with her. My Papa used to work in the Tata company in Calcutta. Now Papa is not there, only my mother is left. Mummy also stayed in Calcutta for almost thirty years. She also knows Indian languages like Bengali well.
I came to Bangalore in 1997. At that time the Maoist war was going on in Nepal. It did not impact coming here. We didn’t face any problem anytime here. In the village in Nepal there was some impact. My younger brother was in the army- there was some danger that time. They used to say ‘Maobadi- khaowadi’. Some were killed by the army. Nothing happened to my brother. My elder brother has been in Saudi Arabia for many years. He works in a hotel there. First, he went and stayed three years; then he went again – it’s been one and a half years now.
Getting used to it
At the time of marriage – I was 18 years old. There is a difference of ten years between my husband and me. So, it’s been 18 years since I came here, to RT Nagar in Bangalore. My daughter is 17 years old – the elder one – she is in her senior year of pre-University in Rewa college. The younger one is studying in the tenth in Saubhagya school.
My husband worked in Sikkim, in the police department for five months. He cleared everything, all the tests. Then after five months they said “your height and weight” is less and threw him out. After that we came to Bangalore. My husband was doing security work in a factory at the time. It was a chewing gum factory. He worked there for 14 years. Now the company is closed. Even though he worked for 14 years, he did not get any Provident Fund, gratuity etc. Now he is doing some little work here and there like in a hotel as security or doorman – whatever he gets. We have to get the kids educated. I haven’t studied. I have studied till 5th class in the village government school in Nepal.
After getting married, I came here within a month. After one year of marriage my elder daughter was born on December 29, 1998. In the beginning I didn’t know the language. I used to think – why did I leave the village! Why did I leave Mummy and come here! That’s how I used to feel. Now staying here, I got used to it. I feel good here -the air-water and knowing the language here. I learnt the languages also- Telugu, Kannada I know. Now it feels like one’s own village. The people here also feel like one’s own people. Children also know all the language here – English, Hindi, Nepali, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil.
We went to Nepal when our elder daughter was 22 months old and the younger one was just five months old. We went and stayed there for seven months. Then we came back. We have come and gone to Nepal many times. The last time was four years back when my mother-in-law passed away.
In the earthquake a couple of houses collapsed in Okhaldunga. Nothing happened to any human beings. Before the big earthquake came, they felt the tremors and got scared and went out of the house, thinking that anything could happen. That’s why people were not injured. Some houses got crushed, some fell.
At 3 pm on 24th when we put on the news in the channel Nepal 1 – we saw. We got to know that in Kathmandu this sort of earthquake had come. I tried to phone many times. I couldn’t get through on the phone. I was very tense. It was coming ‘not reachable’ – cannot be contacted for now – we were not getting signal there. After three days we managed to speak to our family on the phone. I asked: did anything happen to anyone? Did the house fall down or anything? They told us – some totally collapsed, some bits fell off other houses. The old type of houses fell down. The new type of house crashed. No one was injured – my mummy said. I want to ring daily but it is not possible – it costs a lot. There are tremors still. Day before Saturday also there was earthquake. I feel very far away.
We meet other Nepalis here. There are many people from the village but not near, they stay far off. Wherever they work, like whichever hotels they work in, the bachelors stay there. There is not so much coming and going to the house. Sometimes when my husband has a holiday, Nepali friends come, but not very frequently. One of them suggested I take up a job.
I started work only after the children were a little grown up. After about six or seven years I got my first job babysitting at the Fun n Learn School on MM Road nearby. Then, from there, I came to this other school. My work was cooking food in the school for children and in the kitchen in the Madam’s house. I worked there for two-three years. After that I have been working for five years at the present place, a family of Kannada Brahmins. I cook food there. I can cook North Indian type of food as well as the food here – South Indian like sambar, rasam, poori and playa (vegetable). I can also make chapattis. I picked up cooking on my own. They showed me one or two times. I then thought on my own – this is to be made this way. Like with us – we don’t have coconut, but here in all food there is coconut. In sambar there has to be coconut, in chatni there is to be coconut- coconut is used in everything.
My Madam and her husband go to office. I cook and keep food in the tiffin. In the evening they return at six. I have the key and go and cook by the time they come. There is a small child too who returns from school at 5.30. He is picked up by someone else, but I look after that little child till Madam and Sir return. He speaks Kannada and also speaks English. I don’t know so much English. I know two-three phrases: “Come this side”, “Why are you running inside like that?” He knows more English, but I don’t know English. He talks in Kannada with me. They don’t give me much of a salary. But still, it pays the rent of my house. It is near and I don’t spend anything on bus fare. Going far to work, one has to start early, then money gets spent on bus fare. It’s also more risky going out.
The best and safest work is to sit and eat at home. But what to do – my husband’s salary is low. It’s difficult to run the house. So I go to work. I don’t like whole-day work. Going for a short time is okay, the children can be looked after. Even the house can be looked after. I went in the morning and am now returning – it’s about 2 pm. Even in the house I haven’t done anything yet – all the chores, sweeping and swabbing, washing clothes. In a little while the children will come.
In Nepal we have Nepali citizenship. Here we have ration card – get oil, wheat etc. We have voter’s card too. People here don’t trouble us. They don’t ask- where are you from? Even when we got Aadhar card made – they didn’t ask where are you from? Giving this home address -it got made easily. Children got admission in school-college. There was no problem. Children are studying just now. When the children’s education is over, we will go back home. To Nepal.
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