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Tilak Bahadur

(NEPAL 10)






Hindu, Sarki




Majhini Damar


February 1994


This is a short and not particularly in-depth interview, yet the narrator is interesting – following an accident in his youth he has been unable to walk. He has had to be resourceful and self-sufficient to survive, and developed skills in shop keeping and repairing radios.

The narrator feels strongly that he has no choice but to support himself, so he works hard and does not depend upon others. His brothers "cannot afford to let me sleep all day and give me food", so he decided to open a small shop. He used his own money as start-up cash, then borrowed more to expand, at a high rate of interest (4% a month). He pays the interest, but hasn't been able to pay off any of the capital. He has moved his shop to more central location, where business is better. Hopes that his brothers will look after him if one day when he is unable to work. He lives at his shop and his brother carries him when he goes to visit the family home. His advice to others in his position shows something of his matter-of-fact courage: “I tell them they must learn to live and live happily and mustn't die within ... we should work, be good to others and help and shouldn't worry too much.”

detailed breakdown

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Section 1-3  His family moved from Sarlahi when he was a child because the farming was poor, they had little land and a long trek to fetch water and firewood. His mother died of diarrhoea when he was 3, because "in those days medicines were not available”. His father remarried many years later, but this stepmother "went mad” and they don't know of her whereabouts. Brothers are farmers. He is only one in a family with some education. He quit in the third year of school, age 8, because couldn't afford fees.
Section 4  At age 22, left leg was paralysed after he and his brothers dug a canal to bring water to the village. Other villagers paid for the digging to be done on their behalf, but they had no money to do so. Pain started in his leg immediately afterward, but couldn't afford hospital treatment and traditional medicine didn't help. Asked why he isn't married yet: "Look at me, I cannot even walk so how can I marry?"
Section 5-6  Talks about his shop. Says his fate is dependent on "the Sahu (money lender)" who could stop the supply and his shop would close. He taught himself basic radio repairs, with help of a book, to have something to do as he sits in shop all day. Also now learning from an expert.
Section 7-8  Villagers treat him well. Someone cooks for him, but he has difficulty with daily chores such as clothes-washing, because cannot walk to the river. His advice to other disabled people is to work hard and don't “die within”.