• Patan dhoka, Lalitpur, Nepal
  • Shobha Sharma

    06.16.2020

    admin

    Universal Mother
    After fleeing Nepal during the height of the Maoist insurgency, Shobha Sharma, her husband and two tiny daughters landed up in Bangalore with nothing except the clothes on their back. They have now expanded their philanthropic work and are running a hostel for abandoned children. This large-hearted couple reaches out to anyone in need, especially new migrants to the city.

    I am from a poor family from Arughat Bazaar in Gorkha district. There is a river which separates Dhading and Gorkha. My husband is from Dhading side of Arughat Bazaar. I studied till eighth standard. After that a stone cut my foot and I could not walk, so I quit school. One and a half years after leaving studies I met my husband. He had a shop next to our house.  While visiting the shop to buy things, I got to know him. After that he asked me to marry him.

    I was 18 years old when I got married. I am the eldest daughter.  In my house there are my Daddy and Mummy and four sisters and two brothers. There was little-little problem when I got married because my Mummy wanted that I marry the boy she chooses. I had told my mother, ‘Ma, I will marry whichever boy you choose’. This is what I had said, but it did not happen that way. I got married very young. My Mummy said ‘don’t marry now’. That’s what she wished. Mummy was a bit sad because of that. Now there is no problem. There was no problem with regard to caste. Because my mother-in-law is of the Newar caste and my husband’s father was Brahmin. And caste goes according to the father, so there was not much problem as to caste. I am Thapa- Khatri.

    In 1993 my husband’s mother developed a mental problem. He took her to many places in India, but she could not be treated. They went to Delhi, Kashi, Mathura, Brindavan, and it didn’t get cured. Then a pastor had come from abroad. After the pastor prayed, mother became well. After that both mother and son developed faith. After marriage, I also started having faith. I also felt good. After that we became Christians.

    Fleeing Nepal
    After one year of marriage I had a daughter. After she was born we moved and started living in Kathmandu. After that I stayed in Kathmandu for many years. There we had a carpenter-furniture shop, a largish one in Samakushi, in Gongabu itself. There we also ran a big hotel near the bus stop. The Maoists in Nepal, they tortured us a lot. Big-big people coming to the hotel and eating daily– not paying.  Doing rowdyism. It was a big problem.  That’s why we left there. We didn’t want to stay there. I gave birth to a second daughter and 8-9 months after that suddenly came to Bangalore.

    The decision to come to Bangalore – that is the will of the One who is above. I had never seen Bangalore. I had never even heard of it. Actually we had an intention to go to Darjeeling. We set forth to go there but we reached here instead.

    In Kathmandu we were in a rented house.  We didn’t bring anything from there. We left everything. From Samakushi we went to Lagankhel. In Lagankhel we had a big carpenter shop and we stayed there also. There, people from the village came and wanted to talk to my husband. It was one o-clock in the afternoon. He was splitting wood. After that one man came and said Bhabhi (brother’s wife), I want to talk to your husband. I said I’ll also come. He said will take him aside for ten minutes. Three days there was no news as to where he was taken. I cried for three days there was no news. I was alone in the carpentry shop. My daughter, my younger daughter was there. After three days he rang up and said that those people blindfolded and gagged him and took him into the jungle. He had run away from there and reached Hetauda. He told me to come. After that I left everything even his citizenship certificate, everything, my rent, one dress, one dress of the child. There was a bible – I picked up the bible. Came to Kalanki. Got a ticket in Kalanki. I took the two children and straight came to Hetauda. After coming to Hetauda I stayed there for a night or two. He had a mobile. He sold the mobile and we came here. This is the way it happened. Because they tortured us.  Now it’s thirteen years since we came here in 2002.  At that time it was the rule of the King and war was going on. Now it’s silent. There is no problem like that. From Hetauda we went to Kakarbitta. In Kakarbitta we sold the mobile. From Kakarbitta to Siliguri. From Siliguri we caught the train and in three days reached Bangalore. First we got off at Majestic.

    The decision to come to Bangalore – that is the will of the One who is above. I had never seen Bangalore. I had never even heard of it. Actually we had an intention to go to Darjeeling. We set forth to go there but we reached here instead.

    We didn’t even think of staying in Siliguri.  That time there were a lot of boys studying in Bangalore. Even now a lot of boys study here. We met those boys. They said that Bangalore is a nice place. There are many Nepalis who stay there too. The air and water is good there they said. So talking to that brother we came to Bangalore. In the train the brother fed us in the train too. We didn’t give any money. Our small child was there – she used to drink milk. They helped. That’s how we got to Bangalore. They said we have to go to so and so place, Uncle-Aunty. On that support we came to Bangalore.

    Starting afresh
    When I got off the train I felt really strange. Everyone was talking in the language of this place. All the people were from this place. We couldn’t see any of our Nepali folk. I felt very strange. I was scared. There is no one of ours here – how will we stay here? After getting off at Majestic we walked and walked to Koramangla to Vivek Nagar. We met a Nepali brother there who used to work in a school. On Saturday and Sunday there were two days holiday. We could stay two days in the school and sleep there in the school. Then Monday school started. We lived in Vivek Nagar, they call it ‘100 feet road’. There is a school there. We stayed in that school. Then we stayed in a small room in Vivek Nagar, after my husband started carpentry work. It was a small room and we paid 700 rupees rent. There a person gave a gas to cook, make rotis – later we gave back some money to him. We stayed there first. We met lot of Nepalis in Vivek Nagar. They said don’t take tension – somebody gave a blanket, somebody gave us a chatai, somebody gave us a plate, somebody gave us vessels to cook – that’s how they helped. After that we gathered hope that there are people to help us. After that my mind changed – it’s a good area, it’s a good place. My heart felt happy. We met people from Darjeeling. Even now there are lots of people from Darjeeling.  We didn’t meet anyone from my village. Everyone took us in as Nepalis. And as a Christian – as having faith in God – they helped us. They saw the small children – that it was difficult – so they helped us.

    We met lot of Nepalis in Vivek Nagar in Bangalore. They said don’t take tension – somebody gave a blanket, somebody gave us a chatai, somebody gave us a plate, somebody gave us vessels to cook – that’s how they helped. After that we gathered hope that there are people to help us.

    After coming here we had to struggle a lot and somehow brought our children up. My husband is very skilled in carpentry work. He has many skills – he can also do electrical work and also construct a building. He got carpentry work and would be given 60 rupees daily. It was very little. He used to make such good stuff like big sofas costing 35-40 thousand rupees at such a low salary, but we adjusted. After that a man came and gave six lakhs at one go. The man said – you can take this money you can even go to Nepal. You can do anything with this money. Saying this he gave so much money with that much trust. We got some necessary things for the house, carpentry tools, TV, then some toys for the children and set up our house. We stayed there and my husband did lot of big projects and lot of work like Garuda Mall on MG Road. Many people gave money, but many people also didn’t give money.

    After that his heart changed a bit with regard to the work. Then we went to Hennur and took a hotel in Lulu market on rent. The hotel is still there, our tables and chairs are still the same. He put in lot of hard work. The design and the carpentry is done by him. The hotel was well run and offered Chinese, Tandoori and Indian food. The hotel was on the top floor and so many customers didn’t come as they had to climb stairs. Later we started incurring a bit of loss as we had employed so many people. I used to work really hard going in the morning and coming back in the evening. At that time I also learnt some cooking. Now I can cook the entire menu of Chinese food. We ran it for one- and-a-half years and then sold it for less to another man. After that we went to the Army canteen at Nagenhalli. Army children study there and we ran a canteen for children – breakfast, food, whatever is necessary for children, from boarding to everything else. We ran it well for about two to two and a half years. After that we closed it and came here to Narayanpura.  We ran a small hotel here. I used to work really hard from 6 am till 11 pm at night from 6 am. It was very difficult. I used to be exhausted. Then I said I can’t do so much work.

    For the children
    After coming to Bangalore, my husband had a strong wish to run a hostel. He wants to help children. He is a bit like an orphan himself. His father left him early when he was in the womb. He did not get a father’s love. His mother somehow got him a bit educated and brought him up. His heart is so good, whoever he meets he feels like doing everything for them. If they don’t have clothes he is willing to take off his own clothes and give. His heart is like that from before, I know. Even now that’s what he wants to do.

    When we first came we thought we would spend some time, see the place, roam around a bit and then we would return. This didn’t happen. Because after we came here and started working, the days kept going by and then this happened with children.

    Children started coming to us. We have been bringing up children since eight years.  The first child was the one who is now in the kitchen, the one in the yellow T shirt who is cutting vegetables. She is our first child. She has two sisters and one brother. They used to stay here. There was a fight between her parents. She is not Nepali – she is from Maharashtra but used to speak Telugu. Her people work in houses. Behind our hotel, they used to stay with other Marathi people working with them in the room. One day it suddenly happened. The children came to us; small children – nose flowing, torn pants, torn clothes – the three children came. I said – whose children are these? One of our helpers in the hotel said – ‘their Mummy-Daddy fought with each other. The mother poured kerosene and set herself afire and she is in hospital.’ The children were left here. I felt lot of love. I fed the children in the hotel. And the younger son – he is so small. He looked very pitiful. I fed him, but there was no place to sleep in the hotel. Gave him Amma’s room at the back – put him to sleep there. For three days we looked after him. After some time we learnt that their mother had died. I felt so much pain. Even now the pain is there, the wound is like a sharp needle.  I felt so sad. After that the police came and caught the father and took him away. The policemen were friends and my husband told them that he had not killed her, she did it to herself, and completed the paper work. He told the mad, from today your daughter will stay with us. That poor person also said I will leave my daughter with you. Did the paper work and brought her home and kept her in our hotel. We took care of the three children. We had a room in Naganhalli, and we took the children to the room in the evening. These were the first children. You can see them now outside.

    After that other children came. Even after that we didn’t say bring children to us. Some people came up to us and said, we want to keep our children with you. ‘We saw many hostels but we want to keep them with you’. That’s what the parents of all the children say to us. The number of children kept increasing. Then we vacated that house and came to the present house. After coming to the house the children increased.  I don’t know from where but people suddenly come and want to leave children here. There are twenty three children now. There are five girls and the rest are boys. I also do not have many facilities. Whatever is there we share. I cook myself and feed the children.  They should grow up well and do something good. That is what we wish and that is why I work so hard.

    Now we can’t abandon the future of so many children and go back to Nepal. Making the future of the children is our future; our bit of good work. That is why we settled here. We had thought – even three years back – that we would hand over the hostel to someone and go to Nepal. The registration of the hostel happened one year back. We thought we will hand over the hostel to a good person – then we will settle in Nepal and start another institution. But this also didn’t happen.

    No going back
    Our heart is not in going back to Gorkha.  Because the house we have in Dhading – we had taken it on finance. In the front there is a small mud house which mummy had made and we made a big house using RCC, putting pillars and putting up a second storey. We wanted to do more business and mortgaged the house. We took this one in six lakhs, within which we got all the things – got things for the ration shop, gave things whole sale to ration shop. Everybody took things on loan; nobody gave money. After suffering the loss we had to give interest on the six lakhs. After that we were not able to do it and we lost the house. There is no house. That is why we didn’t go back.

    In my own home no one knew where we were. I also didn’t have their number or anything. I didn’t have the number of the house. I didn’t have a mobile-shobile or anything. How could I have contacted them? I talked to my Mummy-Daddy after six years. I took a number here. A brother had come from the village, from Gorkha. I took the number from him and then could talk. Then I even had a phone and I could contact in the phone shop in the village. My parents don’t have mobile – in the phone shop we could contact and I managed to talk to my Mummy.

    Mummy felt that I might have died. That was her belief. She thought I was not alive. That’s what she thought. She was very happy that my daughter is alive, children are alive, grand daughters are alive – she was very happy. After another two years, a total of eight years after I left, I went to my parental home. Now I have been here 12-13 years. I have been their four times –went and came back.

    It was only after my mother-in-law came to live with us that I had any contact with my own parents and could talk with them.  After we suddenly left Kathmandu, my husband’s mother had no idea where we had gone. She cried a lot: ‘Where has my son gone? He may have died’. She has only one son and loves him a lot. The son is her life as he gave blood and saved his mother in Delhi.

    There are lots of Nepali Christians here. I don’t have an idea of the percentage of Nepali Christians but there are a lot. We meet in church. People don’t become Christians just like that. There are lots of people who were ill and went to doctors. The doctors said – we can’t do anything. I feel like crying after hearing their stories. I have heard so many stories here in Ejipura. A person got ill and tried lots of things like tying sacred threads, taking them to the temple, offering gold-silver to gods and all that, until all paths were exhausted. On the brink of death, they have faith that by going to church they will get well. After going to church and praying, people got well and started eating and walking. There are a lot of people like this with faith. This is my experience. People are not Christians because of coming to church, singing well, reading the bible and hearing good sermons. It is because of what they have passed through and what they feel inside. It is because of the peace and bliss they feel that have become Christians.  Even in Nepal I was associated with the church. In Nepal Pentecostal Church is there, Baptist is there and there are two-three more.

    Easing the transition
    Those who are going to come from Nepal to a new place, they need love. Explaining, consoling them with regard to whatever problem they have faced – no one comes here just like that. There is no one who is feeling happy and is spending money to come to Bangalore. People come due to some suffering, some difficulty, or to bring up children, feed them and for a better future for the children. Husband-wife both do jobs to save some money and go and do something in the village. Now we are here and this is also like our desh (country). Where we stay that is our desh.

    No one comes here just like that. There is no one who is feeling happy and is spending money to come to Bangalore. People come due to some suffering, some difficulty, or to bring up children, feed them and for a better future.

    We should take out some time, go to the people who have newly arrived and see to their problems. That day I went to bhaiya’s house, he knows his area. We can ask – have any new people come, bhaiya – what are their problems, how can we solve them? I am here just now in this area and can give advice for solutions. It is difficult to search for solutions alone. My husband has lot of experience and has been to lots of places. He knows the Nepali people who have come earlier as well as those who have newly arrived here. He goes and gives things and helps a lot of Nepalis. If they say, I don’t have anything, he gives rice; eat a bit he says. If someone from Nepal asks for suggestions about going to India, I would recommend Bangalore. I like this Bangalore. It’s very good- the air and water here is like the air and water of Nepal. Anyone can stay here. There is no problem. Bangalore is the best place – that’s what I say. Food is also good. The South Indian food is very good – idli-dosa-sambhar is my favourite. I like the food here very much. I like to eat chitranna, pulao. Bangalore is the best.

    I feel my home is in Nepal. I want to go to Nepal. We want to go there, there are many poor people there. There isn’t enough to eat and small children are put to work. What I want to do is to help from the bottom of my heart. I have stayed here so many years, now I have experience. I know how to manage children, how to feed them. So I want to go there. Till now I was fine and content here. I just went and came back. Now my mind is for Nepal. It is not because of the earthquake. There have been many earthquakes. It is in the hands of the One Above. We can’t stop it. Those who died are dead. We can’t do anything. Because Nepal is a very backward country and towards lower castes still there is hate. There is untouchability: you touched it, we won’t eat. Sit at a distance. Even now there are a number of such people. We are all one, I think. So, what to say I want to explain that you and I are the same, don’t think in this way. Somehow explain and persuade that we are one. We want to stay with them, whatever is there we will share and eat, we will share and stay. That’s what I think. And my husband’s heart is the same. He also wants to go Nepal and do something. There are a lot of old men and women who sleep on the road. We want to do something for them, give full meals twice a day – their good wishes will be on us, their blessings will be on us. There is no greater work than this. We are bringing up so many children. There is no greater work than this either. Everybody says – this you are doing really good work. You have been a mother to so many children. There are so many people who don’t have children. After trying a lot they don’t have children. Many people say this. My tears well up – really. I am the Mother of so many children.

    The best thing I liked here in Bangalore- the Kannada people – they really respect women. Give respect – that is the best thing. That is the thing I liked best because they consider you your own. They say, ‘Sister’ ‘Mother’. They call everyone as Ma. What do you want Ma? What are you looking for Ma? This is the best thing. To talk of the worst thing, there is bad too. There are many bad people here too. ‘You are from Nepal, what can you do?’ They look upon us with these eyes. ‘You have come from Nepal, you can go back to Nepal. You go to Nepal. This is ours.’ People also speak like this. This I felt bit bad. Whatever the people, from wherever they have come, there are all communities, all languages, all countries. People from all over have stayed all over in different places. So, this is something I don’t like, when they consider us as outsiders.

    It is not that it is not good and that is why I want to go away. It is good here. I want to go to Nepal because it is very backward country and I want to do something good there. My husband has such a big heart and is helpful to those who don’t have. Here there is a lot happening. There are a number of Foundations. In this area there would be about 200 organisations. Our Foundation itself doesn’t mean much. We should do something from the heart, that’s what I want to do in Nepal. Bangalore is very good. I will stay there in Nepal and will keep coming here every two months. It is here that I got an opportunity to progress ahead. After coming here my experience has really increased. I love children so much and I have learnt a lot. It is just a matter of three days to come to Bangalore and if I have money I can come by plane in a day.

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