Occupants of the pickup reach Bhalubang off the East-West Highway past midnight, and decide to catch some sleep in their seats. They have timed their arrival in Okharkot in the morning so KC’s family can immediately perform funeral rites. Although tired after the long ride, no one can sleep. Khatri thinks of Bishnu, who was 27 and had only his mother at home. His brother lives elsewhere, and his sisters are married, one of them to Khatri.
“He was promised work in Global Link Food Service in Doha, but ended up working on a high rise construction site in 50-degree heat,” Khatri recalled. “He used to write home to his sister that he was finding the work very difficult.”
There was a big crowd of relatives and neighbours when the pickup reached the village the next morning, accompanied by loud wailing as the coffin was taken out. Bishnu’s mother whispered ‘mero babu’ when she saw her son’s lifeless face, and fainted. Relatives draped the body in yellow, sprinkled vermilion and carried it to the banks of the Jhimruk for the cremation.
This is the second body to be returned home to Okharkot from overseas, while Piuthan district recorded five fatalities of migrant workers last year. There is no record of the number of Nepalis working in India, although the estimates vary between 2.5 and 3.5 million. If a person from Piuthan dies in India there is no official record, and the bodies are usually not brought home.