When Belsara Biswokarma, 22, went into labour she bled profusely, passing in and out of consciousness. A junior paramedic in attendance could only do so much. Villagers then put her in a cloth sling between two poles to carry her to a health post in Lulang.
‘They ran down the treacherous zig-zag steps to the river, and I was swinging from side to side. I was terrified they were going to stumble and fling me into the gorge,’ Belsara tells Stephens. ‘But we crossed the river and halfway up the mountain, I felt these enormous contractions. I could feel the baby’s head between my legs.’
Amrita Biswakarma was abducted by her husband when she was 16, as per the common practice of ‘kidnap marriage’ which Stephens is not so judgemental about. ‘Even though they are traumatised at the time, it appears that once married they are well-treated by their husbands, and love or happiness grows with time,’ she writes.
After 13 years of marriage, Amrita is happy with three children, but is sad that her husband is once again leaving to work in Qatar. Many men even from these remotest regions of Nepal migrate to India or the Gulf for work.