When I was a boy, the postman used to come every Thursday as we waited for our father’s letters. Sometimes the letters would be stuck somewhere and we would receive all six on the same day after six months of radio silence and panic. Now I see my children every few months in person and talk to them every day.
Despite being away from Nepal, I feel like I can contribute more from here than if I were back home. Whether during earthquake or Covid-19, we have sent a lot of support to Nepal including oxygen cylinders.
There are many Nepalis who require help in the Gulf region, and I find myself spending a good chunk of my salary and time every month helping them. I am lucky that I can do that. I often get sentimental when I go back to my apartment after dealing with people who need help. I write poetry to get the weight off my chest.
What was most distressing was having to walk out of Kathmandu airport once behind men who were pushing two coffins in luggage trolleys. The bodies had been repatriated in the same flight as mine. Later, I composed these lines:
घर गाउँमा रुवाबासि पिर पठाएछ,
सम्झनालाई अन्तिम चिनो तस्विर पठाएछ॥
खुशि बोकी घर फिर्छु भन्थ्यो परदेशीले,
कठै! आज बाकसभित्र शरिर पठाएछ॥
He said he would come home and bring joy,
But he brought back tears and grief.
He sent a photograph as a parting gift.
Alas! He sent his own body home in a box.
That, too, is foreign employment.
One of my favourite memories is when I brought my father to Kuwait in 2018. He came to my office and sat with pride behind my desk. He told me all those years of toil in Saudi Arabia had been well worth it.
What I have achieved in my life is in large part due to the motivating letters our father wrote to us from Saudi Arabia. He sacrificed his life for us. We lost him last year, and I miss him every day.
Translated from a conversation with Hom Nath Giri in Kuwait. Diaspora Diaries is a regular column in Nepali Times providing a platform for Nepalis to share their experiences of living, working, studying abroad. Authentic and original entries can be sent to [email protected] with Diaspora Diaries in the subject line.
Diaspora Diaries 1, Nepali Times
The Days of International Migration, Editorial