Now 83, Khatiwada recalls, “I went to Balkumari’s house after school on Fridays, collected everyone nearby, and taught classes in communist theory.”
Balkumari’s husband Tilak Bahadur Thapa was an anti-malaria health worker, and was not interested in politics. With all the party workers who had to be fed, the Thapas ran out of food, and she had to farm to earn the money to buy more provisions.
“There was no way of knowing how many people would drop in. Sometimes there wouldn’t be any food at home, so I borrowed rice, flour, and other essentials from the neighbours,” Thapa recalls.
In 1979, Thapa became a Female Community Health Volunteer and that made it easier for her to travel and mobilise without raising suspicion. By 1981, she had become an active party member and her job included safe-keeping and delivering party documents, organising women, and teaching classes.
Manu Sigdel, whom Thapa taught, is currently the chairperson of NCP Makwanpur. He remembers: “The party was more important to her than her own family.”