photo of person from Nepal Sindhulpalchok
Nepal glossary


(NEPAL 14)






Hindu, Sarki caste




Ichok VDC, Sindhupalchok





Section 1
From where did you migrate to this place?
We didn't. We have been living here from before. My father also had land and property but the sahu (money lender) has already taken most of it and leaving just a small piece. In those days the sahus used to lend the money. My father was also very gentle and meek to the sahu. He used him for his works around the village and in the end the sahu said that he was no longer needed for the work but he has to pay him for the food so the sahu took the land instead, that's what the villagers still say.

Who was that sahu?
He is from Mahankal.

Didn't he do that because your father owed him the money?
No, he may have borrowed some grains when he really needed it, but the sahu took double, triple the amount that was borrowed so my father had to work for them most of the time. That's why we couldn't have a piece of land to make the house. Sometimes my father used to get drunk and get mad with the sahu he used to tell how the Chettris ruined us.

Is your father still alive?
No he is not.

Who else is there in your family?
There is my mother, father my wife and a son. I have not seen my mother and it has been 6 years since my father is home.

How old is your son?
He is now 18 months old, I'll have one more.

Don't you want more children?
It's difficult to raise them. They have to be shown the way since I have such a bad situation even if I have to labour hard or borrow from sahu.

How long have you been married?
It's been around 4 years now. My son was born when I was just 17. I had to get everything from the villagers for my marriage.
Section 2
Didn't you have the money then?
No, I didn't. My uncle Ram Bahadur Mijar, thinking that the nephew has really suffered, helped him.

At what age did your mother die?
I don't know, I was not aware, I don't even remember her face.

And what about your father?
He died when I was around 14. I think itís been 6 years now.

Have you studied?
No, I haven't. I can't read. There was no man to teach or cook for me in the house. I didn't have time to cook. I was looking after the animals at my uncle's place to feed myself. When I was older and knew a little bit I leased other's land and lived.

How many muris of grain is produced?
A little may be 5 muri 10 pathi and sometimes 5 muris. And sometimes I don't even get that much. With the chemical fertiliser the production is quite alright now. I have to pay 2 muri as interest.

Do you have to pay 2 muris out of 5 muri?
Yes, and I have the remaining 3 muris.

How much land do you have in your name?
I have a small land, house and a garden given to me by my uncle.

Did the earthquake destroy your house too?
No, but since it was very old it was damaged, so everybody helped me to get some money from the government and build my house.

Since you have leased the land from Sherpa can he get you out of this land or not?
No, he cannot.

Do you have any proof?
My uncle has the papers and they should give me the land when I am working on it any paying the interest.

What kind of crops do you grow? How many times a year do you harvest?
I grow rice and wheat, two harvests a year and I have to pay 2 muris for interest a year. This land is dry, that's why it was given to me. If I had the land in the plains it would have been much better.

How much land do the Sherpas have?
They have much, most of the lands belong to Sherpas.

Do they come to collect the interest?
Yes, they do, because they don't pay us if we carry it to them.
Section 3
How much do you get if you carry a load from Melamchi to Mahankal?
Rs. 80 only, and in the winter Rs. 70 only.

How many times do you carry?
Three times if we are fast otherwise two times.

How much do you save from Rs. 100 that you earn in a day?
I have to eat in the morning and evening.

How many months can you live off from your land?
Most of it is neglected, so I don't get that much, may be there's enough for 3 to 4 months.

How do you live after that?
I work here and there, I do odd jobs; I have to look after the children.

Do you do other works also or just carry the soil from Tarangmarang?
No, I bring manure and fertilisers to houses, and carry loads for the villagers.

How much do they pay you for carrying the soil?
30 rupees.

And the women?
They get 15 only.

What do you do if you or your family gets sick?
Then I have to borrow from sahu.

What is the interest rate?
Some ask for 25% and some 30%.

Since you can't read, don't they deceive you?
No, they don't. First we talk it over and only then sign the papers.

Where do you go for treatments?
We go to Chanaute.

Do you take the sick to Chanaute or first you use the Jhankri (traditional healer)?
We must use the Jhankri.

Do you believe in such things?
Sometimes people do get better.

Usually in which months do you have to borrow?
Usually in the rainy season. It starts to rain from Jyestha (mid-May to mid-June), the rivers run high then we cannot carry loads so we have to borrow.
Section 4
For what purposes do you have to borrow?
It's usually for the treatments of children and us. If we get sick, we cannot work so we have to borrow to feed the family and we have to pay back when we borrow. Most of the grains are used to make alcohol, it is in our blood and culture, I even smoked before.

Since you are a Sarki you should have been working with leather?
Yes that is so but my father didn't teach me, he was old and he died. It's not really needed in the village too.

You are living with the Chettris and Brahmin around you, and these people think of you as lower caste, do they discriminate you?
Yes, we do live in the neighbourhood, but the Chettri and Brahmins do not discriminate us. People are busy in their own houses.

In among Kami, Sarki and Damai, do you also have lower caste?
The Sarkis don't eat from the Kamis.

If you don't eat from the Kami and Sarki who eats what you prepare?
Itís only during the ceremonies and festivals, otherwise when they are out they do not practice such things anymore.

Is there any difference between Sarki and Damai?
No, there is not. Everybody bleeds from a cut.

During the 22 years of your life what are the big events that you have heard?
I have not heard much. Last year maybe a year before that, there was a big landslide and two houses were crashed away. I don't go around I work here and without work I don't roam around. I had gone to the Ghopte Bhir where the airplane had crashed, other than that I carry soil and other loads and save for the Dashain.

Where do they take the remains of the aeroplane?
They take it to Bhaktapur, I also carried the load.

You said that most of the land belongs to Sherpas, so all these people working in the fields are they really poor or what?
No, everybody is not poor. Some are sahus. The Sherpas come once a year and take their share and the sahus double or triple of everything they give the Sherpas.

Do you ever think how you can eliminate the discrimination to Damai, Sarki and Kami?
What can we do there is nothing we can do about it.

But it's the man rules made by the God?
That's true. Actually everybody should be put under one roof, because everybody bleeds red from the cut.
Section 5
How many families of Damai and Kami are here?
There are six families of Damai, eight families of Mijar and 11 of Gadi.

Can't the 11 families get together and do something?
We can do but we really don't have any problem.

How can the office help you regarding this matter?
I don't have any idea. We have to depend on the sahus, now there is one to whom we really helped, who thinks he is better than us, we are afraid he may discriminate us in the future. We could have done something if we didn't have to ask for help in the future.

If you have to borrow where do you go?
I go to the village. It's my misfortune, they don't give without saying their mind. How can I have a better life if whatever I earn is spent by eating food only.

But you could have lived easily for a year if you borrowed some goat and buffalo?
How can it be? Only the sahus have the animals and if they hear that some four have asked for animals, they will come and stop it. Some suggested having a shop which can make money for us, but thinking of the credits the villagers want will ruin us. The children are always with the sahu's children and they have to do whatever the rich do and if we don't give they start to cry, so how can we save money. What can we do, we have to be happy for whatever we get to eat and wear. If the sahu's children eat something our children start to cry, we have to give him the same, so if you don't have you have to borrow.

How worried are you regarding your day-to-day family life?
I am worried, because I cannot keep them hungry and naked. I have to provide them everything even if I have to stay hungry. If I have brought another's daughter I have to treat her too.

How old was your wife when you married her?
She was around 12-13 years old. I was also young and there was nobody to guide me. She was very young when we got married.

Who told you about family planning?
It will be difficult to support the family if it is big. We have to eat otherwise the children will eat the mother like the spiders do. What can I do with a big family, I will be happy with a son and a daughter.

What will you do if another girl is born?
Then I will wait for a son.

How long will you wait if you have a daughter all the time?
I can wait for another 2-3 daughters, we must have a son, but if we can't have a son then I can't do anything about it.

Will you do the family planning yourself?
What to do, I have to carry loads so I think we should inject the wife.
Section 6
Was the life better before or is it good now?
It is good these days because these days the sahus can't suppress the poor like before. Sometimes we don't go to work at all, we don't owe anything to anyone. With the help of Pashupati Samser the sahus didn't benefit, we have to eat on our own and go to dig for the road. It is our own road but they have to feed the poor too.

After the road from the Melamchi to Talamarang was built, what changes did it bring to the poor people?
It is good. We can go to Helambu from here and then go even higher carrying the Sherpa's goods.

Do you always get the loads from the Sherpas?
Not always, mostly during the festivals of Loshar.

In your thinking, what should be done for the upliftment of the poor of this area?
The poor should be given goats to raise; the goats can bring the money to buy buffaloes, they must know their own capacity. They brought buffalo but could not keep it, so first they must raise the goats and save each and every paisa. That's how they can be rich.

You mean it's better to raise goats than buffalo?
Yes, one has to pay for the animals too. The rich have the money and the buffalo, so they can get the money pretending to buy the buffalo and if they were questioned they can always show their own buffalo, that's how they make the money.