Doctrine divides, Action unites

 

  May 2014

 

Unfortunate Minas

Shree Ram Chaudhary and Bhagi Ram Chaudhary
 


Mina and Anil (Photo by Krishnaraj Chaudhary)

If a crow caws in the vicinity of a house, it is believed to be conveying a message to the house.

There is the village of Kauwaghari in Goltokuri Village Development Committee (VDC) in Dang District named after the crow, called kauwa in the Tharu language, because it was the habitat of thousands of crows long ago. Today, however, one can find a settlement of Sarkis rather than crows in Kauwaghari.

On June 30, 2002, the crows in Kauwaghari brought bad news to the locals. A dozen villagers who had been to the local forest were killed on the spot by the army.

An 85-year-old Sarki man, Sonbir Nepali, said, “Our forefathers migrated to Dang from Salyan in 1885. Since then, we made our living with hard work; but whatever the circumstances, we were happy. However, God envied the little happiness that was dwelling in the village and forced my aged eyes to see the dead bodies of the 12 youths who were in their prime with dreams in their eyes.”

He added that, after migrating to Kauwaghari, the Sarkis, one of the country’s lowest castes, started earning their living through their traditional occupation of making leather shoes. Then the exchange value for a pair of slippers was 10 pathi (32.5 kilograms) of rice and for a pair of shoes a muri (75 kilograms) of rice. People used to get three muri of rice as their wage for hammering a horse’s saddle. This was payment enough to sustain the people, but soon after the establishment of the Bashbari Shoes Industry the government instituted a tax on leather, and the Sarkis were compelled to leave their traditional occupation. They changed their means of earning a living to rearing animals, collecting firewood and other work or working as daily waged laborers.

Following the cruel murder of these 12 innocent men, the livelihood of many villagers was disrupted.

This is a story of the family of Resham Nepali, one of the 12 victims. Resham was living with his wife, a son and a daughter rather than with his parents. After the murder of the only breadwinner in the family, his widow Radha Nepali went through a terrible time but was unable to go to her in-laws and share her pain.

The three years following the death of her husband was like 30 years to Radha. Her daughter Mina, 10 years old, started helping Radha with household chores while her son Anil was 4 years old and going to school. Her children were Radha’s only consolation. She sent her children to school on the morning of Aug. 30, 2005. She used to scold the children if they returned home late from school, but that day she sent the children to play near the house of their grandparents as soon as they were back from school.

Suddenly, the horrible news spread through the village that Radha had committed suicide by hanging herself. Mina and her little brother were instantly orphaned. Now they live with their grandparents. Grandmother Parbati Nepali questions herself all the time.

“My son was killed by the security forces,” she says. “It was his destiny, but I do not understand why my daughter-in-law committed suicide, leaving behind her young children in peril? I am unable to take care of myself. Who will care for them?”

Lacking proper care, the two orphans, Mina and Anil, look dirty and abandoned. When Mina had boils on her body, the family had no money to treat her; and as a result, she was unable to go to school for months.

Mina, who is now in grade three at a local school, says, “We were in great pain when my father was killed, but we were recovering until my mother committed suicide, tortured by her suffering, and the sky fell in on us. Now we have no one in the world. Our children’s club is the only way to forget all the pains of life.”

There are many unfortunate children like Mina and Anil in Kauwaghari. Although they were not directly involved in Nepal’s war, these little ones have become its victims. Now they have been deprived of everything; there isn’t even a hand to soothe them.


* Shree Ram Chaudhary is the program manager of the Society for Participatory Cultural Education (SPACE) in Gulariya in Nepal’s Bardiya District and Bhagi Ram Chaudhary is the chairperson of the Society for Environment Education Development (SEED) in Tulsipur in Dang District. Shree Ram took part in Interfaith Cooperation Forum’s (ICF) School of Peace (SOP) in Bangalore, India, in 2006, and Bhagi Ram was a SOP participant in 2008.

The book Sighs of the Conflict: Impact, Coping Mechanisms and Rebuilding of Lives in Dang, edited by Simon Robins, was published by SEED and translated from Nepalese into English by Purna Chaudhary, Sabina Bhattarai and Shila Khulal.

 

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