photo of person from Nepal Sindhulpalchok
Nepal glossary


(NEPAL 27)






Hindu, Brahmin


farmer/chair of women’s savings group


originally Gorkha district, now Chitwan





Section 1
What is your name?
Bhagawati Lamichhane. I am 33 years old.

How many children do you have?
I have four children. Two sons and two daughters.

How many years have passed since you married and came to Chitwan?
I married and came in 2041 Nepali year (1985 AD). Now it is 2059 Nepali year (2002), so it has been 17 years.

Where is your parents’ home?
My parents’ home is in Gorkha, Lapsibot, Hanspur VDC.

How far is it from the district headquarters?
It is quite far. If you walk slowly it takes 18, 19 hours and if you walk fast it takes 15,16 hours.

Is your parents’ home a difficult area?
When you say “difficult” it is not a place of extreme illiteracy. But from the point of view of transportation it is difficult. Walking on foot is the only way. There are no other means. Horses and mules do go. Of course, there are no mules carrying people. Mules carry goods.

When you were in the hills what was the situation like?
I was born in the year 2025 and in 2035 I was 10/11 years old. I remember every single happening of that time. Now if I sit for a while and concentrate, I can remember all the events of those days.

What are the events you remember?
Now, till I came here I had not seen a motorcar or motorcycle. I wondered how a place would be where you ride a motorcar and what they mean by “a motorcar”. They call it that in the plains; I used to wonder what it would be like.
I did not get a chance to go to school until 2035. And I was not admitted to school, either, even though I was already 10 years old by then. But I had a real passion to go to school. When I used to see other children going to school I used to wonder what it would be like going to school. Due to family problems I wasn’t getting a chance to go to school. I have an elder sister called Sita and she also knew about this. Noticing my passion for study, the wife of one of the elder brothers taught me ABC at home. My elder brother’s wife called Radhika taught me to read and write Nepali alphabets at home and I learnt a little bit.
I could sing and compose songs and during Teej (festival celebrated by women and girls in order to secure a husband’s wellbeing, or secure a husband) I composed a song about my feelings and problems. My younger uncle’s daughter and I are about three, four years different in age. And she did not know how to cut fodder and do other chores. And being a 10-year-old child myself, I had to cut fodder and bring the load. Now you see my son had not even held a sickle [at that age], my son. My eldest daughter is now 10 years old. I had to cut fodder to fill the doko (wicker basket). While going to cut fodder I secretly composed one song. I composed it all by myself. I remember, fully remember that song was for Teej, and on that Panchami (fifth day of lunar fortnight, waxing or waning) I sang two, three lines in front of the elder brother’s wife, elder sister and other women. I sang with fear. I had this fear that they might make some comments. Still, I sang the song and there were 12-15 women. As I sang in the presence of the women’s group, I was scared in case some passed comments, but as I looked around everyone had tears in their eyes at the end. After they heard my song they all had warm feelings for me. But I had a different kind of fear.
Now if you were to ask me what type of song I had composed… because that area was high, there were a lot of leeches. When you went to cut fodder the leeches would come. Have you seen leeches? Leeches used to come and bite and I still have wounds in my legs from the bites of leeches. They still have not healed. The song I composed when they bit me the most when I was looking after the goats and cutting fodder was:
All the sisters go to school to study.
Working to eat is also hard for me.
How beautifully the flowers blossom in the courtyard.
I have to cut grass where leeches dwell.

I had no father, mother, brothers and so I was staying at the younger uncle’s home. One elder sister had been married at the age of nine. I remembered father then. Everyone would call out to their fathers – but I had not seen a father and so I composed a song.
What does the parrot say, confined in a cage?
What does the parrot say? Father left me at an early age.
He left us, too, and reached heaven, too,
Left me helpless at this child stage.

I composed this much of the song. And after that there were the last lines:
I always looked after goats as a child,
Wanting to write a letter, scribbled with pen on paper
Complained of the hot August sun burning me
“My daughter! My daughter!” my mother did not say.

Fearfully, I sang a song at the age of 10, a song I had myself composed. To tell the truth, my mother married and went to another place after father passed away. Father passed away; mother married and went away. Now what condition I landed in, you can see for yourself. And that is how I expressed my misery, in song. And all the women who gathered to enjoy Teej cried.
My father’s elder brother was the chief of the village and due to that all the family members had opportunities, one way or another. My younger uncle’s daughters also used to go to school. Elder brother’s wife was educated a bit. That is why elder brother’s wife taught me at least ABC. Elder brother’s wife loved me. And to elder brother’s wife, I would say, “I want to go to school, elder brother’s wife”. I stared longingly when my younger uncle’s children and the children of the village were going to school. When I also insisted on going to school they finally said I could go but I had no dress (uniform?) and books. But the moment they said I could go I was so happy that I went running to school dressed in the frock I was wearing. One dai (older male person), Adhikari dai, who was a teacher, asked me on the way where I was going. “To study!” I said and ran.
I went to school to study but I had no idea where to enter from, where to sit and what to do. And one person said I had to go to the office. I went to the office. The son of another elder brother of father was the teacher in that school and he was there in the office. Another dai was headmaster of the school. All the uncles were teachers and their home was nearby. Then I went to the office and told them I had come to be admitted. All the teachers looked at each other; and I was 13 years at that time. I was very intelligent (diligent?) at that time. Now when I see my children, I find so much difference. They are not that intelligent. If I tell the eldest daughter and younger sons to bring something, go and call somebody, they will not go. They cannot do it. But I could do that. And that time when I went to the school office and told them I came to be admitted, they refused. They said my elder brothers have to be consulted for me to be admitted. One accountant sir was in charge of admission and he refused me admission. And I turned my face away, really sad. I started crying and he asked dai something. What he asked dai and what dai said in reply, that I did not know. After talking to dai he said I had to sit for a test.
When he asked me which class I wanted to get admitted to, I at once replied I wanted to be admitted and study in class four. When I said I was now grown up he said that I had to sit for a test and if I passed I could study in four, otherwise not. I said that is all right. Once I said I would sit for the test I was kept alone in one room and given the test. Now I was taught only Nepali at home by the wife of my elder brother, the poor wife of my elder brother, who had studied only up to class five or six. In the test, maths in English also came up. Now about that English maths - I didn’t even know minus or plus. I didn’t know where minus is used and where plus is used. It is surprising – that Nepali part, I did correctly, but the maths I did by guessing [and it] also turned out to be correct, at least one [question]. What a surprise it was! I knew a little bit about figures - but multiplication had come [to me]. I was really surprised!
After that I got admitted. However they didn’t keep me in class four, they kept me in three. And I studied, continued studying and later the result was out. I did not go to see result. I couldn’t find time due to work. Working all the time. I carried water then and it was a bit far. It was a little uphill. It was around 2 kilometres. I carried a lot of water and my younger uncle’s wife, sister’s mother, used to tell me not to carry that much water as I might develop health problems later, backaches even. I did not listen and kept carrying. I thought if I could carry water fast enough, I hoped I could find a little time to play. Due to that I did not have time to go and check the result and do other things. Had to cut fodder, goats had to be tended.
Section 4
How far did you have to go for cutting fodder?
To cut grass one had to go quite far at times, sometimes it was little closer. I would cut once a day. If you see my hand, even now there are many cut marks from the sickle. There were babiyo (variety of grass used for ropes, brooms etc) and dhaddi (variety of grass with long sharp leaves) plants. And when you go to cut them you get deep cuts. And if you don’t know how to cut with the sickle it keeps cutting all over your hands. Though I didn’t go to check the result I was told by all I had passed, and in class four my uncle was there. He was one of the class teachers and came around calling names. He called up to 1, 2, 3, 4. Then he told me I was the last one. Now I did not know much about reading and writing and was admitted in school and he said I had come last and called up to number 4. And I kept quiet, thinking I might have failed but I was in the fifth place. And thereafter I continued to pass, though feeling surprised because I had not known much.

How many girls were there in class at that time?
At that time there were not that many. Maybe there were 15, 16 – at the most 20 of them, otherwise only 15,16 girls.

Boys and girls together that many?
No, only girls. But as I said, even though our village is in the high hills, people are educated. That same school has given birth to many great people. It is a good school. Before it was a missionary school or something, they said, yes it was that. In the whole district our school was second. Our school’s name is Ghyanjay Kumar Secondary High School. And at that time the first in the district was Amar Jyoti Secondary High School.

In the first year itself you came fifth in class?
At the start itself I came fifth. Then I continued studying and when I reached class 6, 7, I was already 16. And once you are 16 in the hills there is this set practice. Whenever anyone’s daughter reaches 14, 15 then concerned people in village start advising and asking for the daughter for marriage. My father had a paddy field in my name. It gave a good paddy harvest. As there were no brothers the paddy field was in my name. Anyone marrying me would be able to get his hands on that paddy field on the one hand and also a girl that is good enough on the other. So at least one person would come each day to ask for my hand in marriage. On my return home from school one or two persons would be there on the seats either side of the door to ask for my hand. That was the practice for asking a daughter for marriage in those days. And they stayed talking about marriage proposals and if I found it difficult to manage then I would straightaway refuse. I didn’t feel like talking about marriage. First I was determined to pass School Leaving Certificate (SLC. Small brothers and sisters were studying with me. I used to feel I had grown up. In the morning I went with the water jar to fetch water and on the way there strange childhood thoughts would come as to what wish I should have. Then after washing I turned toward Kalikamai temple, though the temple was quite far off, and prayed for blessing to enable me to pass SLC. Each time I told this thing to myself and not to anyone.
Praying to the goddess for blessings that way also did not help in the end. Dai from the house where I stayed had mentioned to someone during his visit to Chitwan that we have a younger sister and she should be marrying. And I had not even seen a motorcar. Didn’t know anything. I had not walked a long distance either, just walked to cut grass. I turned 16 in September. It was May when Dai came to the village from Chitwan bringing with him just a boy. He then told me, look child, this is always like this in the hills, no matter how much you toil things don’t get any better. That is why you should marry in Chitwan. I had not given the slightest thought to marriage but that Dai counselled me a lot in private.
Dai said even after marriage you can study in the husband’s house. I asked whether I would really get a chance to study and Dai said I would. If I get a chance to study then I will marry, for I have a burning interest to study. If I have to study I have property, too, if I sell my paddy field it will be enough. But I will sell straw. I also have more paddy than I need. But still I cannot do without working. And when there is no work I have time to study. After doing all this work, I have to study. So, if there is a chance to study it is all right, I thought, and for the sake of studying I married at that time. Otherwise if I had been told I would not be allowed to study, I would not have married. I would not have stayed in that house at any cost. Would have shifted and stayed in another house, would not have married.
Section 5
Whose house were you staying in?
At that time, in the house of the son of an elder uncle.

You didn’t have your own house?
I did not have my house. There was no question of having a house; my father had passed away. After father passed away mother married for the second time and left. And no younger brother was born, [and I had] no elder brother. One elder sister was married at the age of nine and given away, at the age of nine itself.

Where is she?
In Gorkha. Now where was I to stay? The house may have fallen [down], just like that.Those days, some people had stone quarries. They got long long stones. And others may have taken and used [these] as roofing materials. When [her own] people are not there [to look after her], how can a child stay at home? …and then get a chance to study, get to eat in Chitwan, get to ride in a motorcar…? It will be all right, I thought. Then Dai advised me a lot in private. And after counselling I could not refuse as there is no provision in law for saying one will not marry at 16 years. I had to accept. Even the law would suggest I marry, I felt. Again I thought one is expected to marry at 16 years, as they used to say. So nobody thereafter (?)………..and it was that way then; later they increased [the age for marriage].

But the law never said you have to marry even if you reach 16 years?
That was not known at all. One other thing, they (those advocating her marriage) said one would get a chance to study, would have comforts at home. But the hardship is the same: cutting fodder, now going to work, transplanting paddy. But at least [in childhood] you got the chance to go to school. At the time of marriage you had to do farming, transplant paddy, walk up and down, and carry loads. That was it. The cold was all right and was not too cold. Now when you are young the body is strong, I didn’t feel cold those days, and in that situation I went around playing and walking.

How did your father pass away, can that be told?
My father, what to say? Not sure how he passed away. Now when I think back, my father may have been killed by exploiters (ie those who exploited the poor and the lower castes) as he believed in equality. Why I feel that way is this. Now my father was working in Bombay. He thought his wife [whom he had married when she was very young and who was living in the village] would have grown up [by then] and would not like going to Bombay. My mother [another girl in the village] happened to be Jaisini’s daughter… Jimmal lineage, and my father had a very powerful position in the village and my father thought that my mother, Jaisini’s daughter, was very good and fit to be [his wife] ……….so father got married. He married second time and after second marriage he took my mother to Bombay. Again after he had taken her to Bombay, my elder sisters were born there and after elder sisters were born the rest of the family said they (my mother and sisters) had not been shown and introduced to them, so then he brought them home.
And when they were brought home the practice of that place is, if it does not rain in June – there is temple to the Goddess, a little above the village in a paddy field - the practice is to do puja at that temple. If puja is performed it is supposed to rain, [we are] not supposed to have a dry spell, it is said, and [so] that is the reason for the practice of performing puja there. What you have to do when performing puja is that all the Upadhaya (higher-cast Brahmin) brothers have to collect [what is needed] – there are many Adhikari clan villages and many Upadhaya clan villages. That is all the articles (items) required for performing puja have to be collected. And while [these articles] were being collected our father’s also had to be taken - father had taken articles. While going with puja articles you have to go uphill and then jump down [to a lower terrace] It’s not flat like the plain here. On a lower terrace milk and rice are cooked, bread is cooked, everything is put ready, a fire is lit. My father reached the upper terrace. When you reach there you find that the ward chairman, the chief of the village council (head of panchayat), the deputy chief of the village council, all the panchayat members have come together from far and wide for those days [of performing puja] .
At the puja place, the custom is to take off your clothes except for a small piece of cloth around the waist. And at that time my father… While going from further up with the puja articles, you come across badaar grass, and badaar grass is also there in upper field. And to cut badaar grass you have this sickle-type knife, ‘khurpeytyak’ khasa ‘khurpeythyak’ Lahures [the term used in the plains??] are known as ‘khurpeytyak’ in the mountain region and they enable you to cut the grass easily. And my father went [to the puja place] with the knife strapped to him, when he heard the men saying: ”He has married Jaisini’s daughter, we should be careful. He might bring puja articles, perform puja [like an] Adhikari child, he might bring articles and we cannot mix [with him] here like that, we cannot include him in puja – he eats what Jaisini’s daughter has cooked (ie “polluted” food).” So after hearing all this from the upper terrace – he was a person who had stayed in Bombay, a hill person with lots of drive, courageous and active, according to what I heard about him ( I did not see what father did with the puja articles) – he jumped down into the middle of the puja, where the puja articles are, where things are cooked, the place where his own puja articles were not to be mixed, he himself jumped right into it. So the general feeling was everything had been defiled and made impure. That way the tradition of society of that time was defiled, and therefore a quarrel started.
“How dare you jump right into the puja place?” and “You have defiled the puja of Goddess,” they said, and the quarrel started. While quarrelling the Ward Chairman could not control his hands. The Ward Chairman - or a member of what they called during the panchayat time the VDC (Village Development Committee) - Lumanath Adhikari was a Ward member or something – he came to scuffle [with my father] or beat [him] and when he was coming that khurpeytyak was there on his back. The weapon that was taken for cutting grass was raised [by my father] to hit [Lumanath Adhikari] but he was not hit in the neck with the knife the right way round. He was hit by the reverse side of the weapon. When he was hit by the reverse side then there was no wound. The sickle was thrown down, the police were called, they came and arrested [my father] and took him to police station. He was locked up in the police station, and then all the villagers said, “That murderer could have taken your life, if you think about it.”
Section 7
Is that person alive now ?
After he was locked up he said, in a fit of anger, “I have not killed anyone, I have not done anything. The day I get out of this jail, that day I will kill those who sent me here. I have been put into jail in any case [and] I will do that the day I get out…I have not killed that man, he is not wounded either. But the day I come out I will kill, since I myself have been locked up. I will tell [people about] this.” It was said that when he said that, the news reached the village. After it had reached the village, money was paid to the police to detain him longer. It is felt there cannot be any other explanation, but now the educated ones also say the same thing. [The story was repeated] by some educated brothers and after that his sentence was extended. They said, “It is being extended, and let him not come back. If he comes back he will kill us.” And this was rumoured in the village, and that person who was hit by the reverse side of the sickle put on an act, saying, “I am blind, using a stick, my veins are snapped (?) and there is nothing [I can do]. I am not in a fit condition to live.” So up till the point that my father was killed in jail that man walked around the village using a stick.. the prisoners may have got kerosene oil when someone went to the jail. They all got kerosene oil and he was killed when they poured kerosene oil [and set fire to him]. It was made out to be suicide and [the story] was spread around – up until now that is how it has been. And my mother was there, young like us [now]. I would have been one year old in September, so in June I was about 10 months old – a baby being looked after by a woman alone and helpless – and she was not even informed for 15 days. A helpless woman is in one corner of the hill, staying there and crying – a woman whose husband has been taken to jail, whose husband has been called a murderer. All the innocent [and honest] villagers will say that one helpless woman was not even informed for 15 days that her husband had died. On the 15th day my mother got the news, and that is how my father died.

That man is still alive. After that, from that small police post, he was dispatched. He was brought to district headquarters, was locked up in district headquarters, he was locked up for one, two months.

And still that way I had to marry and come to Chitwan at the age of 16. If you want to know the difference between the hills and Chitwan, at that time in the hills there were many who believed daughters should not be given much education, should not make them smart, and here there were few of that type.
Section 8
It was like that in those days itself?
It was.

In that case, even within Bahuns and up to Jaisinis, caste discrimination was practised widely, as they do not want things being mixed up, isn’t it ?
That was practised a lot and now, after having come here, what is a little bit different is that daughters have to be educated. There, when I was going to school, my elder uncle used to say what are they doing now by educating a daughter? He used to say the same even when elder brother’s daughter was going to school. I heard with my own ears. But they studied; now they did well. In that clan and lineage those who didn’t get the chance to study were elder sisters before me, whichever way they never got [the chance]. Among my contemporary sisters I was the only one who didn’t study. They got the chance to study, for example in the house itself my elder brother’s daughters were there. When you were together with them in the same house they didn’t have to go out that much to cut grass or fetch water. Their house is of this town. That school where I studied – the headmaster’s house is the school – and they reached school early to study, to join the line, and were already sitting inside, whereas I never used to reach the line due to work. When they were dressed and out, I used to go out for (to collect) the fodder load. Used to start and they have now finished MA - before they were in service in Kathmandu for two, four years; now they teach in a campus. Together with me there was one older by six months and another was younger by a year, they could not get as high marks as me . Later on, after my marriage, one repeated class 10 and one younger sister passed in first division in SLC. Other one still failed in SLC, also with fail in one subject.

Were you confident of achieving marks of 70 or 80 per cent when you did your studies?
I used to be. The younger brother who studied with me, that master’s son – he was given tuition in a separate room, but for me, coming after doing work, they did not even give kerosene oil. I had to buy [kerosene] myself to study [after dark]. Even when you had property or had stayed for work.

Even when you had your own land?
Even when I had that.

You have land in your name, but still?
Land is there. Though I had land, I never got kerosene oil. Whenever I got one, 2 paisa (one paisa is one hundredth of a rupee) after receiving tika (decorative mark on forehead; blessing), those days they didn’t give much. I used to save and from that used to bring 1 litre of kerosene oil, from it made a small lamp and had to study using that.

Didn’t they give kerosene oil to study at night?
Didn’t give me kerosene oil, didn’t give. At times if elder brother remembered and gave, once in a while I might get some, otherwise those younger sisters didn’t give me kerosene oil as they had strong thoughts that “she” should not study much, should not go ahead of us, she should not get smart, should not become good, should not wear good clothes, so I didn’t get kerosene oil at all till I passed the age of 15 and turned 16, when my marriage took place. That time it went to the extent that those who come to work … the place was such, some of the students were poor. Poor students during holidays had to go to that house to do part-time jobs. To pay fees they had to work part-time. I was studying in class 6, 7, and those in 9,10, went to campus to study. There some differences used to take place and what you see now was not my mistake. We had to work together, farm labourers were called and had to go quite far down in lower warm field. Returning from lower field we used to talk, walking uphill. When you are walking together and boys are my age group, can I not talk? Just for talking they made accusations about me in that house.
Section 9
What did they say?
In those days people were not as open about love as they are now. This one loved so-and-so, that used to be said if you were seen talking together. And at about the time of my marriage what I thought was: once I leave this house they will feel relieved, and if I am a burden to them I will leave this house and go – and that elder brother (dai) also said he didn’t tell any lies and is really good. In the end, he had not told lies, the boy is all right.

How much had he studied?
He said he had also passed SLC, and this is where he lied. He is not the type to pass SLC.

You married because he had studied well?
He studied hard, had recently sat the SLC exam. The result was coming. Now result used to be out in July. We got married in May but he could not pass SLC. He also didn’t have his mother, she had died, he had two mothers [his father married a second time]As I said, his real mother was not there, his story was like mine, had enough property, in a similar way had no support. And that way his studies were spoilt, he would not listen to what his father said about his being youngest son, had lot of property and even if [school?] work was not there, he had enough immoveable property (land?).
And for me, coming from the hills, I was astonished when I first saw a motor vehicle at the district headquarters and [kept] looking at it, looked for a [long] while. [I] sat in a hotel, had food and then kept looking at the concrete road. I feel embarrassed to tell you now, how I stood looking at it. And after that bigger vehicles came, and I looked at them too, then a motorcycle came. I thought, so they also have this small motor vehicle, and I looked at it. [My husband] teased me, whether it was due to our being recently married or because he was a man, and then he said I could not stop looking at the motor vehicles … And that way we came to Chitwan and after coming to Chitwan I found it enjoyable enough. I had to find it a bit enjoyable. To go to study today, to go to study tomorrow, thinking of going to study, I used to daydream about it often. Thinking about how I had not had a chance to study, that I had to study but didn’t get a chance to study, thinking about it [all] I used to get distracted, at times I cried. I was feeling that way but I didn’t get a chance to study, and early at the age of 17 a baby was born. The age difference between me and my daughter is 17 years.

Are your village surroundings good there? How hilly was it? It is very hilly, it is still very hilly.
Section 10
What was the difference in geographical surroundings between here and there?
One thing is it is very hilly there. And there, due to steep slopes, there are no motor vehicles - and here [in Chitwan] you get to see motor vehicles. That is one difference and another thing is though there were educated ones there [in the hills], they could not put that into practice. Educated people are there, now males are there well educated, females are not [educated] there but at present there are - now all educated ones have come down to Kathmandu and Chitwan towns, and so there was a lot of difference in practice here. Now you had to cover your head in the presence of your husband’s elder brother, and a daughter could not stand in front of others and speak, and had to keep quiet and just sit there even though she knew about the matter. [Women] spoke little, that type of difference [existed] and it still happens, and you have to carry water there from a distant place, whereas here water was there nearby in the courtyard. You can draw it by pulling a rope; now here you can use an electric pump.

Did you return again? You returned to Gorkha?
I went twice.

You went to marriage home twice? In total twice? Don’t have to go again?
I feel like going again. If I remain alive I will go. But I don’t have in mind that somehow I must go. Perhaps once I will go if motor is going and I am alive, otherwise going on foot now I may not be able to do so.

Is your land still there?
It’s not. I thought it was, but it’s already registered in the name of others. Already put down in others’ name. Without my knowing about it.

The land that was in your name?
It was not in my name but how the arrangement about the land was, is that if I had claimed, I would have got my share. For example, what my father had to get as his share I should have got. But as it was a case of a daughter my share was not allotted. If it was a matter of a son, he might have remembered. What is a daughter? She would take something and would eat. Now what is the point of giving her [the land] - that was the thinking.

Do you feel a daughter should get her share?
Yes I do. Because she does a lot of work at the parents’ home. My daughter does quite a lot of work at home; my son does not. My son does not, or when he does do something he does very little. And I try hard to keep them equal, son and daughter, and before at the beginning I admitted four of them to school. Thereafter kept all four in boarding [school?]. Now I separated my son and kept him in school, only my daughter I kept in boarding [school?]. Now again I have taken daughter to school, as I could not manage. But it does not work even if I don’t want to practise any discrimination. It is due to this society or due to the dominant way of thinking that a son boasts of being a son. My son and daughter are one or two years apart in age, my son is big enough but he never works as much as the daughter does. This should not be done, he says. One job he agrees to do. Though grumbling, he washes his own clothes. There is a difference between our home and others’ homes, but still I haven’t been able to make him mature in his thinking. “I should not make tea and give it to others; I am a son!” – that sort of thinking is still in his mind.
Section 11
After your marriage, did you find what you had imagined before you came to your husband's home?
I did not get what I had thought of.
What had you thought?
What I had thought was that a different treatment is meted out to daughters, most daughters have to do more. And different allegations (accusation/charge) are put on orphans…despite those allegations on orphans and of making daughters work, the hope I had of getting the chance to study I had carried with me and come. I could not do all three things. The practice of putting allegations on orphan and daughter is all over Nepal in my thinking.

What is that allegation like?
The type of allegation that will be put on orphan is… I also had to take an allegation. In my case, at the time of my father’s death, when I was 10 months old, when somebody alleged “you have bitten [your] father”. I experienced also that the daughter has to clean pots and pans, and you are daughter-in-law. Those things that a daughter-in-law must be doing and has to do, that also I have faced. What a woman has to undergo, whether it be at the parents’ home or at the marital home, I have undergone, and all that remains is to undergo the experience of being a mother-in-law. The rest I have already undergone.

There was no real difference between home and parent’s home?
There was not much difference but rather now itself as my children are grown up I have got satisfaction. My daughter quite understands. Two daughters have to understand mother’s internal pain; that my mother (me) is an orphan without parents. For the mothers’ festival has come, Teej (women’s festival celebrated in order to secure a husband’s wellbeing, or to secure a husband; they sing, dance and visit their parents) has come, whatever may come, they should play cassettes for mother, invite her to watch TV. We cook and stay, we do not go to parents’ home, leave rest of parent’s home, much this side [of the family] is my stepmother, mother’s elder sister, and they come. Superficial love is what they give but still once my daughter is grown up, I will get lots of love. What I was supposed to get in childhood, I now get from my children.
My daughter has understood many things. Sons may be lacking ability to understand or may be thinking that he is a son. They do not understand as much and only a daughter understands. Husband used to go before to play cards and if you ask where he had gone and come, he would say he has “work” - that is what it is when you stay below the level of SLC. He was not that busy in work and there was no way of getting a job, as he could not pass SLC at all, and after selling sites for building houses and engaging him in business - we have business now - but once business started, he is busy in it and I am satisfied. At the start there was not much, the business was not there. When you tell him not to drink too much home-brewed beer he used to listen. If occasionally you want to taste it, that’s fine. And gambling, he played cards. For one, two years he played cards. We had a small child and there was tension. Now I am very satisfied, from him also satisfied. Not much money is being earned. It helps to meet some household expenses. For us it is there. For him to put fuel in motorcycle and his own expenses is comfortably met and he gives to children also.
Section 12
What shop do you have?
Now new…. he sells cassettes. At present I am satisfied from business.

How many years it is since the business was started?
It’s been many years since he started doing business, though before he had bought a vehicle. And after selling the vehicle he started it. For two, three years after marriage he repeated SLC and sat the exam; you could say he had to study. He used to play carom (board game often played for money), cards… like a kid, [yet] it’s (he’s?) 19 years. I felt very sad. My elder brother’s wife who gave me lessons, what she had told me when I was in the hills, was that in case the son-in-law failed he should come down to class 9 and start again from class 9, his age does not matter. She had said to me the future has to be seen (looked after?), so when we came here I told him but he took it as a joke. “Oh, yes? I go to the small children’s class 9 and not be ashamed?” he used to say, and made fun of [the idea]. I became very sad. I feel that way - that his friends, after completing their studies and doing service, are about to retire on pension. But I feel that way.

If you had studied more than this, what do you feel you would have been?
If I had got the chance to study more than this, one thing is I would have become a lawyer and fought on behalf of women. Or else, not being a corrupt leader, I could have been a social development worker, and being one of them I would have served countless women - and even today I could do that. And if we can’t do that much for orphan children – me being confined here and having had a child early, staying this way and though I studied much less - if I did not have to stay in this way I would have adopted orphans and helpless children and made contributions to a children’s home. I would have done that, I have told Miss also the same thing. If you can, even if die due to an accident or for some other reason, and if you can’t study, then open an orphanage or open something else and stay, I have said.

Daughter is studying all right?
My daughter is all right, she is weak in maths, the rest is all right. I feel like teaching but have to cook food only; she tries to help me. Now does not get that much [time] to study. That’s where I feel sad.

Why does daughter not have time to study?
It’s like that, there in the field some tasks have to be done here and there. Now I have tended a cow, tended a buffalo, tended goats, farming is there - if you don’t do that, again it’s not enough for them - what their father earns is not enough at all. Now prices are so high, the country’s situation is like this, now sometimes a cow does not give much when it has to be taken to dairy. The dairy gets closed, dairy’s vehicle is reported torched, sometimes what they say, now due to all these [factors], income is not much. If I am busy outside then it will be difficult to manage the kitchen. I don’t get time to go outside.

Your husband had gone to bring you for marriage?
There was a dai from my paternal side. One person arranging that side also and this side also; he had a house at Chitwan and he was the one taking him there.

He had gone alone?
He had gone alone; no, nobody else had gone.
Section 13
How many days did it take you when you came the first time?
They have gone there in the evening of 19 Baisakh (April/May), 2042 Nepali year, and stayed there, that day I did not know. And on 20th morning I was stopped from going to school. “Do not go,” he said and I agreed, then I was cajoled and taken to the field by the same dai of Chitwan, thereafter wife of elder brother persuaded me. After that on 21st Baisakh what they did was bring some garlands, some bread was made and on 21st evening itself my marriage took place.

How was the marriage done?
No arrangement was made for oblation of fire in my marriage [a Hindu couple gets married in front of a holy fire, believing the marriage will last longer with a fire as witness]. All those I would have wished were not called (invited), all my brothers also were not called, uncles were also not called, that time I was really upset. Because in my own marriage I wanted to see the oblation of fire. All that wish was not fulfilled [because they said] in any case she is an orphan, she can be given this way all right. There one notion was taking place, but others outside did not know and if outside ones were called and told to set oblation of fire, do this way and that, then other brothers also would have joined hands. And it happened like that. And on 22nd day of Baisakh we left early morning from there, stayed overnight at a place called “13 kilo[metres?] of Gorkha”, thereafter arrived home in the morning at 10, 11 am. I was surprised when I saw motor vehicles, motor cycles, cycles at Gorkha district headquarters. When I saw women like me also driving, I kept watching for a while.

And what are the things you used to get here on the farm that one would not get in your home village?
Sesame seed (a kind of seed which produces oil) used to be found here which was not there on the farm at home. Another thing is mustard. So mustard… another is lychee (a kind of fruit), that also is part of farming. There mango also didn’t grow - up there it was high altitude - mango, jackfruit, nothing [of that kind] could be found, others were found.

Is it difficult to do farming here and there or is about the same? Is it easier here or easier there?
It’s easier here, the tractor ploughs here, you need not break up that many lumps of earth, you don’t have to use spade to dig; only methods have to be matched [to the conditions]. You have to grab the right season and be smart; seeds have to be matched.

You didn’t have difficulty to match such things after coming here?
At the beginning it was difficult. I didn’t know that much. But these days I do better than the others. Compared to the others I get more harvest.

How is that?
I keep more cows and buffalos than others, and two, three buffalos. And keep quite a lot of manure, and after that as my child takes care of most household matters I get to go out a lot. I can look after [the farm] as my child takes care of the home. No matter how many guests may come, she cooks and feeds them; others’ children do not do as much as my child does. All say, “How much work your child does!” Due to this child I get to do a lot of farming done.

How much land do you have?
Mine is quite hilly. Now that canal was dug. It was only the canal and no water. Now [they say] it will be [filled], but there is no water. And after that, if the canal comes there will be enough to eat, now who is going to do development? Emergency is imposed, sometimes what is imposed. There is no development at all; water will not come.
Section 14
No irrigation?
No, there is no irrigation. It’s three, four years since there is no irrigation. Without irrigation there is not enough to eat.

Irrigation was there before?
Before when irrigation was there we had enough to eat as well as sell.

How and for what reasons, irrigation is not there?
Now it’s like this. They used to draw water from Narayani by pump and that pump was spoilt, it wasn’t repaired fast, Nepal (the government?) didn’t repair it. A foreign country may have to come and repair it. That’s why there is not enough. There were two [pumps] to draw water. One was broken and one is left. Now presently water comes. You will get water, they say. You should keep seeds, they say. But again you go on keeping seeds, again like the year before last we planted and planted, and without putting water on it once [the crop] was harvested. Without being ripe the paddy had to be cut; it happens like that.

And do you have a paddy field?
It’s the same, whether you call it a paddy field or a site for constructing houses on. Perhaps it is [only a] site for constructing houses on [because there’s no irrigation for growing paddy?].

If the canal comes to you, will you have enough to eat?
Yes, it will be enough. There will be [just] enough to eat, but without a canal it’s not [really] quite enough.

You say you can produce more than others. What type of knowledge is that?
One thing is that for better produce you have to grab the season. Now you have sunshine; when the sun’s shining you have to quickly plough with a tractor and sow sesasum seed and it will grow fast. So as for me, I decided not to sow in case it rains heavily tomorrow and it does not grow that well.

What do you mean by grab the season?
Whatever farming you do, the timing has to be properly arranged. You should not delay.

Do you know that [right] time?
I know, in almost all cases.

You learned yourself or learned from somebody else?
While the days passed, the thought struck me how was I to rear the children, how to educate them? Now I can’t [just] sit here like this - and others’ husbands have gone abroad, some are in service, some get pension, while my husband did not even pass SLC. Now I have given birth to many children. It’s mistaken wisdom that you should have two sons, [but this] was the general view, so I landed up with four children. Now how to manage all this? And by thinking about it all, the knowledge came about automatically (ie we had to learn so we did). All my friends and sisters around came to me to ask about what I know, and I go to them to ask what I don’t know. In my thinking, till now there is not a single friend who does not speak with me, who quarrels with me.
Section 15
Your husband did not pass SLC either and you feel like doing other things to earn income?
I feel one thing, is I [could] do business in goats if I get time, taking 1000-2000, 2000-4000 rupees from the savings group.

Where did this group thing come from?
About the group, it comes from seeing [what happened] in other wards (9 wards make a VDC) before. Before they used to have a dhukuti (grain bank; by extension, savings system) here. When you take part in dhukuti you have to deposit a lot of money. And I thought only those who earned a lot could play. When I was approached to take part in dhukuti, talks arose as to whether I could afford it.

How much money did people have to deposit there?
There at the dhukuti you had to put in a lakh (a hundred thousand). When you took part in the dhukuti on the basis of a lakh you had to deposit 5000 per month. “Can you keep up payments of 5000 per month?” [they asked]. My husband’s name is Shyam. “How much has Shyam earned, that you can keep paying five thousand per month?” Such talk went on there.

Every month lakh-lakh (lots of lakhs?) had to be deposited in the dhukuti?
No, previously men used to take part, before I myself formed the [women’s] group in Ward 7 here. Now they have started up many organisations. I made all (introduced the whole idea?) within the ward at the beginning.

How did you do this?
How it came about is this: before, no one from Ward 7 took any interest in our Ama (Mothers’) Society. This No 7 Ward, our home, is quite remote, it’s a little cut off. And nobody from this neighbourhood, by eyes (?), by name (?), would see… and [they] became backward. And when that happened we went with many names [of these women?] [to seek support], but not to the area where the cancer hospital was built. Some people [there] have rented out houses [to the hospital] and all of them are relaxed, as they are comfortable. Many [like them] who are financially well off are not concerned [about saving]. There was not enough [support] for us and we went to find out and discovered that an NGO was looking [for groups]. Then I went straight to that organisation. Then the organisation found out that I myself had started the [women’s] group. And our group was made the first group [to be supported by the NGO]. Well, the idea was it should be a mothers’ society.
[This paragraph was not very clear; the interpretation above may not be quite right.]

What type of scheme it is? Is it done by village women together?
No, it’s an association. Since starting the association they have already enrolled 800 women and have also opened a community bank.
It is not [just] here?
Section 16
Yes, [not only here]; it was done in No 7 and No 8 wards. For example, you have a number of wards in the municipality, [each with] a ward office. Out of these, in No 7 it had not been done before.

It falls within the municipality?
In the municipality. The municipality extends to right down here.

You started [a group] yourself?
I started one. After [a while] I started one.

Was there any objection at home when you wanted to start it?
There was not. When you want to do such work there is no actual objection. My mother-in-law and father-in-law had restricted me. But there was no restriction from my husband. Rather, he would not help with the household work. His thinking is also of that type. It is not thinking, rather being lazy. He quite lazy and does not help with household work. He does not touch any household work; when he has time, he sows seeds. He doesn’t do other work. So when there is training [available] for such things, I have taken training about cows and buffalos. For five, six, or six, seven days he does not object. So now skills-based work is being done, he says. And so-called “village room partnership” (?), there also I took training and he didn’t say anything. I have done many of these types of small training.

When you started this type of training, did village women not agree or listen?
They didn’t agree. So after I did a lot of persuasion there were eight who agreed. And when eight were not enough for opening the account we made 10. And with one more added, it reached up to being 11 of us.

How much did you raise at the beginning?
At the beginning we raised two, two hundred [rupees]. From raising two, two hundred it has now become two lakh rupees. Two lakhs are there and the bank has already given a loan of 4 lakhs to us - to 16 of us.

What did you do with that money?
What we did with that money is that eight of us with 30,000 each started poultry-raising. And eight women started tending buffalos. They bought one - one buffalo – and from that a young female buffalo is already reared. From [selling] milk we have cleared that loan and now there is no loan. Tomorrow we are going to repay a little.

At the beginning you said from how many?
We started with eight of them.

Please tell me what you did?
Now at the beginning we kept on saving. Those savings we invested for ourselves. We deposited in the bank.

How much did you deposit in the bank?
At the beginning: 100 rupees. One hundred was deposited and from 11 of us it amounted to 1100. That 1100 is to be invested. For one [person?].
Section 17
At what rate of interest?
For us it was 15%. It was done among 11 of us and for one year it was operated on the basis of 100 and we were only 11. After one year others were added. Everyone said to keep them [the new members?] so now we are 18. Now we [each] put in 200. Later [the total] came to more than 2 lakh. Now it has become 2 lakh, 30,000 rupees. Now there are 18 of us.

In total only 18?
Have you heard of another association called Shuva Shri (another organisation helping women to form saving groups). It is supposed to be in Kathmandu, its headquarters. Shuva Shri Association is known by Anjani Shrestha who is our Ward Chairman. The wife of our Ward Chairman has also made one association here called Tyak Nepal for women (local women’s organisation)… I don’t know much about it.

At the beginning you deposited from 11 people and is there any connection in that?
His [being ward chairman] and his own association have no connection but as he is from our Ward and is Chairman of a district women’s empowerment body, we are sitting on that also. [meaning unclear]

When other women have seen the savings become 2 lakh, how have they felt?
All are saying they want to do this and have started to. They have started participating. And other than that, without registering in that association we have started other groups also. We started groups with five, five hundred [rupees]. Today it is about 5, 6 months. Monthly [payments of] 5 hundred.

How many in that one?
There are 26 in that one.

Is it a separate one?
That one is separate. It is not registered with any association.

Where have you deposited that 2 lakh?

In whose names is it?
It is in mine – I am the Chairman. And [the other] one is Gita Lamichaney. She has now left as treasurer, as she has gone far away. There is now one elder sister called Manju Thapa [who has taken her place]. It is proposed to change one in her name.

If someone wants to leave, is money withdrawn and paid at her home?
We will give [her]. After the account is worked out, her due share will be given

What did you do after taking that money as a loan?
At the start it was for rearing goats. One goat is bought at the beginning and in six months it had to be fully repaid. That 11,000 [was borrowed] and earnings from that goat would pay it off within 6 months. It earned double that. [The group member] spent the profit part. She used it to save or do something else, and the principal amount was repaid.

You said earlier there are different methods of tending goats. What are these?
Before the method for tending goats was the goat was born and you just tended it and tended it, and as and when it was big enough, family members slaughtered the he-goat and ate it. That way the woman’s goats were finished just like that. The labour [put into it] was finished just like that. Today what women do is they tell [the husband] at home that it is bought out of the loan from my group and they sell the goat to anyone who comes to buy and can get a profit of 500. That goat is sold and a profit of 500 is retained. That need not be saved [in the bank?] as we have opened a treasury. How you save is you keep that 500 and again go to buy with the principal. And again you buy and bring [the goat]. Again if you can get 500, 400, again you sell. That way in the whole year you get double the benefit [you would have had] if you kept on tending just one or two.
Section 18
…………? (recording unclear)
I also do. Recently I had brought a goat, had tended it for two days only when a friend offered 500 more.

More than 500 in two days?
I had brought it [when everything was] properly arranged. Just before bringing it you have to make sure there will be some time in hand. If anyone is in need of money then you should not say take it, buy goat. Quite a few people come here itself(?). If I get 4/5 hundred I also give, if the principal is intact or paid into the treasury and [there is] profit for myself. With that money I buy and bring another goat.

Compared to before, women have made themselves self-reliant?
[The group] has made us self-reliant; savings do also; goats have provided support.

Goats are the main ones?
Goat are the main ones and after that cows and buffalos.

Is there profit from cows and buffalos also?
Yes, there is profit. Since the state of emergency was imposed there have been many closures [of businesses] and Nepal stoppages (country-wide strikes); even before the emergency there were closures in this country with all this happening. We [now] run at a small loss. Otherwise even now, I sell milk daily worth 100, 150 rupees.

Milk has (makes?) separate money?
It does.

This has also been since the group was formed?
It was happening before. But before there was little [business]. With one buffalo how much could be sold? And then feed, ropes, tending and other things are there (are needed). Now they are thinking of increasing the numbers of members so that they can deposit [more] in the treasury. There are those who say this; so those tending one before now tend two. Before they used to feed less and now they are feeding more [animals], to get more money.

…………………………? [question unclear]
Groups were formed in quite a number [of places] but more than group there were changes before (ie it isn’t just the formation of the group that has brought about change?). In 2042/43 year we didn’t know what to do or how to do things. We used to get together in one place, pick lice, [just] women sitting in the shade under a tree, talking about others. It was that way then, but changes are taking place. But now after these Groups and Associations have come there is self-reliance. Before, the Association was run by Canada or Australia. Then it didn’t do a good job as they focused on men only. When they only considered men, then the Chairman, the Treasurer were all male, and women were only told to do savings. Women didn’t understand what was going on and that way whatever was saved the women didn’t get, and it was swindled by men. Males were more greedy, drank a lot of alcohol. Some did something but [these] never turned out well. Now the NGOs of these days encourage women to come forward and do things themselves. And there are good books - some concerning loans, concerning savings; and they also give pass books themselves. There are helpful and good things and this has taught us a lot. Among banks also [there is support]. For example, if you go to Nepal Bank to repay money they appreciate that women repay on time, and if women were in charge then self-reliance could be there. And those women who could not pay on time were told that whatever savings they had, that too could not be withdrawn, so now it is better to pay on time.
Section 19
When was your organisation formed?
It was from February 2055 Nepali year (1998 AD).

Coming…[unclear]…….going to register with your own bank?
In this organisation our group is registered, it is registered. And after you have registered, they will tell Nepal Bank.

And among you, if anyone wants to take money - are you going to keep it in the pocket or do you have to go to the bank to withdraw some?
We take and deposit in the bank, do saving, and only after withdrawal and bringing [here?] we make investment.

You did not know about the bank before, either?
We did not know much about the bank. Now we have a rotating system. For example, those who do not know should know and we take turns so that there is one who knows [about money matters] and [they teach] another who doesn’t. So we take from both and then one who doesn’t know also comes to know.

That means you don’t feel like this [unconfident? disempowered?]? If women have their share of parental property and have their own money, then how much difference does it make, once you know how to go about earning money?
It makes a big difference. Now if you have your own [money], you can manage the way you want. When you have your right and have taken a loan from the Group then you can say, that cow, I have bought through the Group, and that cow has delivered a female calf. Tomorrow I can give it to my daughter, can give it to anyone I like, and if family members want to sell [a calf] and use the money for a daughter’s marriage then one could say: No, I want to educate [my children] as I have money from the sale of that female calf and a deposit in so-and-so bank or in the group, saying that I could now educate my children. So it makes a lot of difference when you have your own [money] and when you don’t.

In that case you feel that a woman must be self-reliant?
Yes I do feel that. If a woman is self-reliant the home will be a good one; if the home is good, society will be good and the country itself will be good, that’s how I feel.
Section 20
From your own experience also, how much do you think children feel that it is necessary for their mother to be self-reliant?
That it has to be, very much.

You are aware what benefits your dependent children have. What is the difference between you and children of a woman who is not as well off?
Now I didn’t have shoes for my children, clothes for my daughter was another problem, besides requiring so many things particularly at the time of menses. For all this I was not self-reliant and could not even give them a little amount as I wished to. They had to wait for father and if father didn’t give, what could they do then? They had to go around that way, and [so] if mothers could give by doing something then their spiritual strength would increase, I feel. Mothers who feel and have the notion that they have to do something, and don’t stay doing nothing, [they] will help children to become more self-reliant

If you are self-reliant then your children are also different from the children of others - is this the case?
My children are different from others. They have [the belief] in them that bad words should not be spoken. When quarrelling, such words should not be spoken, they have [this belief] in them. And that they have to look after the home, [saying] this is my home, mother is not there, I have to keep it clean, and if some guests come I have to feed them; all these (my) children have [these thoughts] in them.

It costs 11,000.

It has increased. Increased quite a lot, and when I calculated all I invested of Group money, my [share?] is 50,000. I have two registered in that Organisation, and others of the dhukuti (treasury; granary store) type, I have 10. Two of these are registered, one of them that Shuva Shri Organisation………..and other than that I have kept [money] for my daughter. Even today I have come after paying 50,000. [The savings] in my daughter’s name are now 15-20,000.

Your daughter does not have to get married either?
That is now not so sure, that now, if you need money at home, it could be taken out or what may happen (?). But still I have already taught them about how they should attend the Group.

They also already know about those things?
They already know.

In your own case what difference do you find?
I find much difference. To attend the Group what I used to do before is if bangles were to be put [on my wrists] then I put ones costing 25/20 rupees. Now I wear 10 rupee type of bangles. Because I don’t wear more than 10 rupee type I could save 10 rupees and keep that in the Group. Now at that time of buying 10 rupee type I didn’t care for money. Now I wear 2 rupee types. Because [the money] has to be kept in the Group, that also I learnt to save. That is the difference. And [if I encountered] two, four young men standing and teasing a woman or somebody abusing them, then I could not speak [out] much. Now I can go straight up and say something on behalf of the women. Whenever I had to go out I could not get spare time before 12 noon, I never finished work. I wished to go out but work would not finish. It was that way then; now I finish work by 10-9 am, and have already reached [the group meeting] and sat ahead of the others. That is another difference in me, and there are many other differences from before. Before, if you wanted to sell one buffalo they had to call a man, if he is at home, for pricing it - you don’t need [to do that] now. I do it alone. I do the pricing and the talking myself. If I go to buy I can buy myself, and sites for houses also I can sell myself. I can buy and sell sites for houses. I need to have [money]. Money has to be there, I can [make it?].
Section 21
You have already done buying and selling of sites for houses?
I have not bought; in case I have to I can sell, so as to say (?)

You’ve got that much courage?
Yes, courage has come to me.

The reason for that courage to come is due to having money?
It’s not having money [itself]. Like that you go around with women as sisters, now some are big-big ………trainings, recently they gave training on kitchen garden vegetables. Before that, on a development [training day] there were five of us; five were there. At that time also the whole day was for training; many things were learnt. Those vegetables we used to throw away at home had so many uses and this we came to know. From those types of training we have learnt many of these things.

Even uneducated people can learn if they take training, isn’t it?
It can be learnt, that type of thing.

You are a good example in this area?
It feels like that now but how will it be later on.

What have you found in all this? Please give examples?
In society, from a young age what I have seen in many of the homes is - this is a son, this dai (lit. older brother) cannot light a fire in the hearth; I have seen [a boy] slap a sister. In some society now the mother-in-law or mothers – when you are giving birth, when you are in labour – the mother-in-law cooks a meal for you. Now I am in labour and she is cooking meat and other things for me and she has to give it to me quickly; and without my husband tasting the food first, I would not be given any. This sort of thing does go on. The husband has come, and his mother says “You taste it, then I want to give it to my daughter-in-law,” and he would say, “What happens {does it matter?) if she eats before?” She has to be given this (ie she needs to eat). “I won’t eat now,” he said and left [therefore the new mother still cannot eat, because she has to follow him]. My own husband had to face all this. I have seen that sort of thing too.

It was that way because the son is not supposed to have tasted the food?
No, it’s because whatever the food is a daughter-in-law cannot eat before others. And that was how [my mother-in-law] was before; now she is not like that. We have changed her also. Now my mother-in-law is there. We have changed her along with me. That talk of those days is 15 years ago; that way she has changed a lot.
Section 22
What changes are there in your home and family compared to before?
There have been many changes. About my own husband: before, after shaving his beard – the pot he used, he would not pick up that pot, the wife had to clean and keep it for him. And he would not wash [or] when going to bath in the bathroom his clothes [would be] left behind, as he is a man. The wife has to wash him. That is how it was but now he is not like that. Now he washes himself. I haven’t washed his clothes for many years. He watches [how I do it], thinks about it, washes [his clothes] and hangs them up to dry. And there are many [other] changes compared to before. Mother-in-law also has changed.

What type is mother-in-law……….?
Before, if your mother-in-law didn’t come till late you also had to wait without eating. After giving to the son, it was thought daughter-in-law could eat. Now we keep [his portion] in a hot dish. He eats [later] and does not find difficulty [with this]. That is one change that has [also] come about in mother-in-law. Now [she used to say] other things like “Why the son? Daughters are required to wash up dirty plates, the son should not be doing this.” Now sons easily wash dirty plates and put them away. She does not say anything, when two sons are told to wash clothes, [or just] once, twice [she has said] “Why do sons need to wash?” “Elder sister can wash them, she can wash them,” she used to tell me, and now the son washes clothes with attention and she doesn’t say anything. If daughter was not there and she felt like taking tea, then “When will daughter come?” she used to say, and waited. Now she tells the son to make tea. “You can make it, you make it,” she tells her grandson. So the grandson should also be sweeping.

Did such changes take place because of you or come on their own?
On the one hand due to my concern changes came, and the other thing is - looking at society somewhat - after this daughter grew up things changed. Many things happened after daughter grew up.

How did change take place after daughter grew up, what did she understand?
Without getting angry she would tell some things to her grandmother: “It’s like this, grandmother, this is created by people in olden times and it’s a traditional practice.” Since [then] things each day and at all moments are working well. At each home much is going on. When many things are heard and in turn each thing is being explained [it is better].

These things ……………?
Before she smoked a lot of cigarettes. Grandmother used to smoke one packet a day. I myself had to buy and bring them. If I didn’t bring them she would get angry, and what could I do? Now she is old. I told her I would bring them, and I brought them. After one, two years my husband himself told her not to smoke, and she didn’t agree much. Then when my daughter grew up she started to counsel her, and now she doesn’t smoke a single cigarette. It’s now five, seven years since she gave up, she does not take any. That also was a big change. Though being a woman and old she used to smoke a lot of cigarettes. She didn’t use toilets and used to go outside.

You saw many changes in 15, 16 years?
I saw changes. In the presence of your husband’s elder brother, your head had to be covered. I myself happened to be the youngest, my husband had three or four elder brothers. After that was when I used to counsel my elder sisters [not go covered], but I myself could not leave my hair [uncovered]. They are not undressing, I used to say; our elder brothers said we need not be covered. Going through all that, I could still not change. But now in front of husband’s elder brother we openly stay here as brother and sister. Now there is no longer the practice of hiding oneself.
Section 23
Why does the head have to be covered? Is there any reason for it?
There were no reason, concerning hair. In reality, men were gifted (indulged?) by women. Before, when I threw off [the headscarf] they said “She didn’t cover her head”; this society said “She didn’t wear a scarf over her head,” and I used to be told [this] by some, and this sort of thing (attitude) was also there [generally]; now it is not there.

Is this good for those who take it in that light and is [it a] positive change?
Many changes have taken place. Years back now in this society sisters here didn’t even have 500 [rupees?] in their pockets. Even 100, 200, they didn’t have then, and now in this society a woman can get a loan of 10,000 or 20,000. That sort of arrangement is there now.

That means woman have become self- reliant and that led to many changes?
Many things have changed. Society itself has changed a lot. Before, a woman didn’t have money, and going to a hotel to have a snack would have been an exceptional thing. Taking money out yourself, and without asking your husband, used to be that way. Now if you tell women that we are going on tour, taking a hired bus, all of them will go. We have been up to Janakpur and back. With our own money.

By reserving a bus?
We have reached Naw Tuna and come back; and many go. Now they go to Lumbini, go to Janakpur. Now we have already talked about going to Darjeeling. From one Group nearly 2 lakhs is being handled. If we take out a little interest part, it will be sufficient.

Did you learn cycling?
Cycling also I learnt. Now I can go to the bazaar, riding the bicycle.

How long has it been since you learnt to bicycle?
It has been around four years finally.

The practice of women riding bicycle is there from before, why so late [for you]?
It`s like that. Now sometimes a baby is in the abdomen. You should not learn [at that time] as others say, and falling down could be serious. And the child is born, and saying mother is in childbirth, you learn after a while. Then I didn’t have any source of income as I do now, so I had not explored possibilities of having one. Having done all this, now they are in a position to ride a bicycle, and [if] you talk of [needing] utensils they are able to go on a bicycle and look for them. Whereas they used to earn 200 only, now they are able to earn 500. If no one is there to deliver milk they fetch it themselves on a bicycle. Even if it is just up to the dairy, the bicycle does a lot of [the] work. They can go to town to bring good quality seed and sow. If you ask [the supplier] to bring manure then farming is delayed, and now they say “I will bring the manure myself, I will bring the seed myself.” They would call for a tractor themselves. The tractor is faraway, and the wheat harvest is good this time. Seeds are brought from town. At that time it was about to rain. All are nervous, I went far away by bicycle to bring fertilisers and put [some in] first and collected 8-10 muris of wheat (one muri is about 49.9 kg). The cycle did so much of the work for me. Do not sit around, but ride a bicycle as far as your feet can pedal. If you cannot do this, what [else] could be done?
Section 24
Because there was no money, they did not learn; and therefore they lacked the courage to learn?
That sort of training was not required. No organisation anywhere had integrated women (had involved women fully?), now organisations’ sirs come. They explain many things, teach. In those days nobody came and said “Saving has to be done in this way; you cannot save in a cupboard.” What money we keep in a cupboard is bound to be spent, and the way we save these days, this habit was not there before. Now all you require is a bicycle. Now if someone always sits on the back of another’s bicycle, she/he has to be able to manage. On top of that, if you are big and fat, then others will have a real problem to take you. After forming this Group I got the courageto learn to ride a bicycle and to take money from my own source and to buy a bicycle from own money. I even bought one for my daughter from my own money.

How much does a bicycle cost?
For 3,000 I bought two ladies’ bicycles, one for her and one for me. I want to make my daughter a pilot (doctor? see below). After her results we will know. She will make it.

What do you want to see your daughter to be?
If she can study it’s that - to become a doctor and do service. If not, it would be alright if she could do something for women. If that also could not be done then she could open an organisation for needy children. If she gets a degree in the future she could do important work. Now if she can manage only IA [exam after SLC] and could not do BA then she will do service to needy children.

How old is she?
16 years.

You were already married at the age of 16. Don’t people say she should be married also?
Sometimes when anyone tells [me that], I get angry. And a quarrel takes place.

What do they say?
At times talk has already happened. Even if not much has gone on, there is talk in the streets and elsewhere, and it is said that marriage is a big thing and “Look at me - what I have got [by] marrying?” Now she will marry whenever she agrees to get married. When you say that, what people in society say is, “What if your daughter marries on her own?” If she does go, then it is done and that’s it. In case she goes we will talk in a different way, will speak again.

How do you feel about how much change has come about regarding discrimination in society?
There have been many changes.
Section 25
Do you also have oppressed women in your society?
There are many BiKa (short form of Biswakarma; Kami are blacksmith caste, who work with iron, and are considered low caste, untouchable) and blacksmiths.

You eat together with beeks (slang for low caste, Kami)?
I do. But quite a few members do not agree; many times controversies have come up about it, and I have cleared this room and given training. Once a three-month long training was conducted. That time also I brought water and kept it [with me]; those women who did not want to [drink what low caste women drank], didn’t drink water [at all]. They thought about it and I didn’t tell [the others] to go out to drink. I could not tell the oppressed ones to do that. And when I go out for training, when I go to the bazaar I sit with them and eat. Society has not allowed us to come together to eat. This also has to change, I say.

You feel this change has to come?
It has to come, I feel.

Is it proper to see others as superior or inferior on the basis of caste?
No, I feel all are equal.

Do you feel that many backward women of different castes need to be brought forward?
To talk about bringing them forward, they are coming forward compared to before. And oppressed castes – they are ahead. Now oppressed castes are also being looked after. The other thing is that Bahuns have to be counselled still, it is felt. More than others, Bahuns have to be counselled still, it is felt.

For example we have our sisters from Balmugina, we have also kept sisters from Balmugina in the Group. They are the ones who despise much. When they despise [lower castes] that way we are put in an awkward situation.

In what way do they despise?
They complain that the programme [for all castes] is in the same place and they have to sit together… [that] through large straw mat, water is touched. Now this happened, that happened, they say – and controversies arise, leaving a bad taste – I feel sad. Neither can we tell the oppressed caste not to sit there, nor can we tell the Bahun caste that all should be treated equally. We are in a dilemma, [caught] in the middle. In all I feel it’s not the “ignorant” oppressed class but the Bahuns who have failed to understand. The Bahun caste has to be counselled, I feel.

You need to counsel them?
We have also counselled one or two, or two or four people in the Municipality when that type of training was conducted. It was arranged that way. When it was arranged that way we were around 30, 35 people. Then one of us got up, and at the end Biswakarma (blacksmith) was there. Unless it was given to Biswakarma first, the tea would not come this side, the tea, because the Biswakkarma were in that position, caste women were together and tea was served there. When [the trainer ?] introduced himself the issue of caste came out. My friends from the village had come. They remained quiet till tea was finished. It was cold, so we could not do without taking tea. It was January’s cold so they kept quiet and took tea. After they had finished tea I used to say to them. [They were] whispering, who is that sitting at the end? What caste? Tell me. And they thought for a while. If you say he is not Biswakarma, then they have taken tea [without concern]… Are we to say “Well, you are Biswakarma, don’t bring tea from there. Bring it from here”? [ie and so cause problems]. “What else [can you do] if not taking tea from morning to evening in this cold?” I said. I used to say that. Now we have to bring them counselling gradually.
Section 26
Is it due to illiteracy?
No, quite a few women are educated. There are [some with] SLC passes, there are men who have studied up to BA, and I told you they boast a lot. In some of the things they boast: “Why mix with oppressed castes as they are going to bully us?” [they ask]. They have to remain on top, they feel.

They have to remain on top at any cost?
They have to remain on top and I have found such people around here .

In the Group what are difficult issues to settle?
It has been difficult. Today is my fasting day on account of Swasthani (a Hindu religious text, read for a month every winter, directed at women and teaching Hindu values and morals so that they will be faithful wives). I do not sit with you, some women are to be found saying, and how [do the others] say “I am also a human being.” Later Minister Deuba [took this up?]. After that the oppressed castes found a way to speak out. If we report you, you will face charges, they said. That time it was difficult for us to settle.

If reported one could face penalty up to 10 years under the law, if untouchability is practised, isn’t it?
I know. But many women, and more so the Bahun caste, are arrogant. Even now we have to be on top, they say.

Don’t you think it is due to ignorance?
This is not due to ignorance, but to arrogance. If it is ignorance then they have studied more than I have. In my case [I have only studied?] magazines, newspapers.

Now in some cases it comes from within oneself?
If you tell them that way, then their thinking gives us different thinking (?). I say all should be equal, you cannot say [some are] bad. Human beings, human beings are the same. Coming now and telling them we want to do this, then they think in another way. Tomorrow you do puja., and other things, you call them and tell to do work. What if we have to marry our daughters, then we give to their sons. What, we have to marry their daughter and bring [?]. This sort of talk they talk. Now they have to give up habits of whatever they like. Again among the oppressed class also this [discrimination] is there - when you understand, for example, that one is a tailor and another is a blacksmith, and among them the blacksmith would say he was higher. There is also controversy there and as we understand it the blacksmith elders assert they are higher and anything touched by tailors cannot be eaten by blacksmith, so why does one have to be higher among them? is what the Bahun say. They have to eat food touched by tailors, blacksmiths, like the new generation does. For example, the elders from among them should also give up, we are only told to give up, give up, many such things come up.
Section 27
Is this the difficult one to reconcile in society?
Of all things, this is the one at present.

How many oppressed women are there in your group?
There are around five in our group.

In those women due to being in the group?
Changes have occurred in them, many changes

They have become very vocal; they are able to fight.

Are they educated?
Education-wise they are somewhat like us, like me, some a little more, appeared in SLC but failed, that types are there.

Do you feel like writing a story, poem and even a song now?
I feel like writing a story and poems. I’m not that good at poetry. If I want to I can write songs.

Now also you write?
[On payment] if it’s made, whatever [subject or theme] is wished I can compose…

You can sell those songs and make money, do you know about it?
I have no knowledge about such matters. I arrange for the daughter, compose the tune and fill the pages with a hundred songs of this type. She will write the song but cannot bring out the tunes like me. No matter how good the song, the voice will not be good. She could not make her voice as good as mine.

Do you write for daughter?
No, I teach her. She can write herself as her writing is better than mine. In my case, what to do? My handwriting is not good.

What type of song have you written? Is there one about dalits (lower caste) also?
We have already sung that two or three times in the Group also.

Did you make it yourself?
I composed it myself.

Please sing a little for us to hear?
What type of practice is this in this country? Men suppress women in this
For the rich it is Japan’s saree and for the poor a dense thicket of firewood in this
For rich it is fine rice, eating on the sweat of the poor in this country.
At snow mountain of snow, how much to make listen the lamentation of the heart in this
Always for us, water and watering place; the way of life has become dark in this life.

Section 28
You sang all yourself?
If asked I can sing many such folk songs. If asked I can sing duet love songs also. If anyone can ask me a question I can give a reply [in song].

You can sing this type of song instantly?
We from the Group sang another tune. In the Group what we had sung was that at that time guests from America had come. The link is through the Shuv Shri Association (local women’s organisation) and one large lady called Serleson had come. They asked us to sing a song. And at that time I told it in a different language:
Who do I have in this village to call poor queen?
First welcome for newcomer guest
Second welcome for all in the Group
Our home is at Chitwan.
It’s become difficult for us to live our life.
We used to be very happy.

In all your songs women’s anguish is there, women’s problem is there. Do you feel women are lagging behind?
I feel that.

Now what may have to be done to move forward? What could be done so that present day children might move forward?