A House of Her Own
Twenty-five year old Geethi BK from Thalinamish village in Bajhang is counting the days to the day she can earn enough in India to buy a house back in Nepal.
I was 16 years old when I got married. My husband was 30 years old at the time. It’s difficult to earn money there in Nepal. There was no work for men there. The women, we work on the land. But without work for the men, they will not be able to survive. We came here to earn a little money for food. After marriage I came here to Bellandur in Bangalore and now I have been here nine years. My husband does sweeping and swabbing work. I do sweeping, swabbing and cooking work in the apartments to get a little money for eating. Just walking on the road people say ‘go to that apartment- they are looking for someone to work. Mata BK is my elder sister. She has been living in Bellandur for many years. Everyone from my village comes to India, they don’t go to Dubai, Saudi and places in the Gulf. They don’t come here through middlemen, but through relatives only. It’s very far and not safe on the way. No one comes alone. We need altogether six or seven people, relatives, in a group to come to India.
I don’t like anything in Bangalore. One’s own country is one’s own country. I stay here out of compulsion. There is nothing good here. But how do we go back to the village – when there is no money? It costs about ten or twelve thousand rupees for one person to go to Nepal, if you add the food and other costs to the ticket cost. It takes five days to go or come from my village. We are not able to get together that sum. We earn just eight or nine thousand rupees. We have to give money rent, have to give money for rations – that is why we’re here. I keep thinking – when can I go to village, when can I go? It’s always in my mind but what to do – I do not have money. So what to do! That’s why I’m here – to earn.
My brother was here in Bangalore from before so I came here. I don’t have children of my own – it’s been nine years since my marriage. I am the eldest daughter-in-law. The one younger than me has a boy and a girl. The one who is younger than my husband has two boys and two girls. I don’t have anything – boy or girl. My younger devrani (husband’s younger brother’s wife) had come here, left this eight-month-old baby with me and went back to the village. Now he has grown and is three and a half years old. I have put him in school in Bangalore. So I am here for now. When he grows up – we will see about going back to the village.
My mother-in-law and father-in-law are here with us. They help look after children we called them here. They have gone to Hyderabad just now. My other devar (younger brother in law) has just had a baby boy – they have gone there. It’s been two-three days. The child has gone there too. I am not feeling good without him. We haven’t even eaten for two days.
We are three sisters. We don’t have a brother. Mummy is not there. Papa is there but old. No one looks after Papa. Sometimes he eats at my sister’s place. Papa is very old. He won’t live long –maybe one or two years at the most. We are here- he will have to come here- what else to do. There is one girl younger to me – she has a girl and boy. She has gone to the village. Both of us sisters are here. Mummy passed away six or seven years back. We don’t have any brother; we are only three sisters. My fate has become like this – very bad.
We meet other Nepali people at time of festivals like Dasain or Tihar. We make poori-subji when relatives and other people come to meet. We are poor. Whatever little is there; we cook and eat, meet each other and go home. We keep thinking we have to go back to the village – we are not able to do that. Then have to earn money to make a house. It’s a small house only, and there is devarani and devar. We are here. Mother-in-law and father-in-law. Then the younger sister-in-law is here.
Some people here are good. Some are not good. Somebody talks in one way, someone talks in some other way. All don’t have the same mindset. Some people speak nonsense. I have no friends here. All are in the village only. My Didi (elder sister)… everyone I met after coming here. I didn’t even know her before. I was six years old when my Didi came here. I didn’t know, I didn’t remember her at all. Everyone said she is your Didi – that’s how I came to know she was my sister. She had come here to Bangalore much earlier – soon after she got married.
I recognized her when we met. My younger sister was also there. What to do – Mummy passed away. Papa and my younger sister came here. Now my sister has got married. There is no brother and sister-in-law. Whose house can we go? How long could my younger sister stay at home? After fifteen years she has two boys. She has gone to the village. We keep thinking we have to go back to the village. God knows when it will happen.
I remember everything about the village – the house, the land, where we used to play, sahelis (girlfriends), earlier memories of Papa-Mummy – I remember everything. I had to come here due to compulsion (majboori). Earlier the climate in Bajhang was ok. Now it is bad. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it’s clear. The air and water everything here in Bangalore is good, there is enough to eat: vegetables and dal. The rations are good. Whatever grows, it is fresh. That is why all the people come here. Earn a bit, eat and go back and then have to come here again. That is why we have come here.
My relatives live in Rajajinagar (a locality in Bangalore). Here in Bellandur I don’t know many people. Where is the time? I leave home at 6 in the morning and come back at 3 or 4 in the evening, so I don’t get to know anyone. I come back and cook. I have cooked now but haven’t had the time to eat as yet. I had gone at six in the morning today. See, it is 3.30 now. Washing clothes, filling water – I haven’t eaten yet. At the places I cook, if somebody is good then they give something to eat, others don’t give. You can’t force anyone to give you food.
I have got a ration card and other documents made. But till now I have not taken any rations. I don’t know how. We don’t know where we have to go and what we have to do. The owner of our house got the ration card made and gave it to us. My husband goes at five in the morning five and has not yet returned. It is quite difficult here. If there was work in the village, one would have got some rest. Here one slogs the whole day. There is no holiday. Because you lose your pay. We never take a holiday. What can you do with one day’s holiday. My husband gets a weekly day off but he doesn’t take it. He takes only one holiday in a month. We are working people.
We have come due to unhappiness and misery. I don’t feel good going anywhere too. I haven’t seen anything. All people say there is Town Hall, City Market – I haven’t seen anything. We have come to earn, so what is the point going here and there and wasting money. We don’t have children. We didn’t go to so many hospitals. We went to just one or two hospitals. There they said – it will be okay. We spent a lot of money – one or one and a half lakhs. Even more than that maybe. The doctor and lady doctors say it [pregnancy] will happen. But it happens slowly and the money gets finished meanwhile. What else I can say: one’s grief is one’s own.