Whenever he had some time free, Anil would join his father at the intersection waiting for day work to supplement the family income. Laldev’s colleagues at work were impressed with his son’s honesty and capacity for hard work.
Even as Laldev boasts about his son’s strong work ethics, Anil in turn credits his father for his lifelong focus on securing his future.
Said Anil: “I came to Kathmandu with my sister with the money I earned working in construction in my village for a few weeks. In Kathmandu, I saw how my father was struggling to make ends meet with his daily earnings so I joined him whenever I could. My father had taught me not to be ashamed of doing any kind of work, unless it is bad work. I was never ashamed of doing menial labour, although I always saw it as a transitional phase which I hoped would not be my destiny.”
His day work was to carry sacks of sand on his back to the seventh floor of a high rise bank building that was being constructed in New Baneswor. Anil recalls: “It was the kind of struggle I don’t wish upon anyone. I learnt a lot watching my father work hard, and how despite struggling as a daily wage earner, his vision and dreams for us was larger than life.”
There were times when Lal Dev had also considered emigrating, visiting recruiting agencies in Kathmandu to try his luck. He was turned down because he was more than 35 years old. He remembers, “They wanted younger men for first timers. So I gave up and still have not made my passport.”
Before going to Kathmandu airport to see his son off this week, the only previous time Laldev had visited the airport was when he was working on a construction project there.
Anil said it is still uncommon for students from their Saptari village to travel to countries like Japan, most are used to going to Gulf, Malaysia or India. He is only the second person from the consultancy travelling to Japan in the past decade from the Tarai. There are even people from Anil’s village with undergraduate degrees who are doing back-breaking work in the Gulf and Malaysia.
Back home in Saptari, the Mandal household is empty. When Laldev lost his wife to an accident, the local panchayat demanded that the driver, in addition to paying for her medical fees, also compensate the family with Rs350,000. He built the house with that money and from his savings in Kathmandu, while his children grew up in the village.
“In many ways, the community helped raise my children so the neighbours are also very proud of Anil’s achievements,” says Laldev.