DHANGADHI, April 20: Raj BK, 21, of Lamkichuha Municipality-9, in Kailali district, returned home on Sunday after spending 16 days in quarantine. BK's recovery from the COVID-19 has not only brought happiness in his family, but also in his community.
However, he is deeply worried about supporting his family of eight. BK is the sole breadwinner. "I was able to defeat the COVID-19 with sheer determination and will power. A new challenge has emerged before me: How do I support my family?" he said.
BK passed fifth grade from Nabajagaran Secondary School, a local school. Unable to continue his education due to poverty, he left for India at 12, and worked as a laborer. BK first went to Punjab with his brother to find a job. He worked at a factory that manufactured bicycle pedals. "I worked hard for two years in the factory," he recalls.
After two years in Punjab, BK then decided to leave for Mumbai, where he started working at a hotel. After a few years, he joined another hotel that paid him a better salary. The hotel was closed due to the COVID-9 pandemic, and that is when BK decided to return home to Kailali.
His parents, three brothers and a sister-in-law stay under one roof. His father suffers from asthma, and one of his brothers is physically disabled. Another brother stays at home to take care of his ailing father, and a physically handicapped brother.
BK spent all his earnings to buy medicine for his father and other basic supplies for his family members. "We do not have land to farm. I wish to go back to India once the hotel reopens. But it is not clear when this will all be over. It is difficult to support my family here in Nepal," he said.
Although he does not want to go away from home, BK does not see other source of income at home. "It would have been much better if I did not have to go to India again. I will stay in Nepal if I can find a decent job," he shared his plan.
Bhagadevi, his mother, said she is very happy to see her son recover from the COVID-19 illness. "Our entire family depends on him, and he worked hard to feed us since his childhood," she said.
Bhagadevi said she was in pain when she first came to know of her son’s condition. "People in the village started avoiding us, and even restricted us from walking outside our home," she said. "But since our son’s recovery, everyone in the village has started visiting us and talking to us."
Bhagadevi has four sons. While her youngest son dropped out of school after eight grade, three other sons could not complete grade five due to poverty. "His father has a heart problem. We were forced to send him to India at an early age," she said.
BK decided to return home after the hotel was closed due to fears of coronavirus. He arrived at Trinagar checkpoint along Nepal-India border on March 23. Nepali authorities had already started controlling movement across the border by then. BK, along with several hundred others, were stranded there for almost 28 hours.
On march 24, local administration allowed them to enter Nepal. They were all kept at a temporary quarantine facility at Pratappur Saraswati Secondary School in Lamki Chuha Municipality-9 in Kailali.
BK did not show symptoms of coronavirus. But his throat swab tests, conducted by a team of doctors from Nepal Army, showed that he had coronavirus. BK was then admitted to Seti Provincial Hospital on April 4. Doctors discharged him from the hospital after 16 days, as two separate tests showed that he had recovered, according to Dr Jagadish Joshi, spokesperson at Seti Provincial Hospital.
Dr Joshi said they decided to discharge BK from hospital after the second and the third swab tests showed him negative for coronavirus. He said that BK has not shown symptoms of COVID-19, like fever, coughs and common cold.
BK feels that will power is the most important factor in defeating coronavirus. "I never lost hope even when I was admitted to the hospital after I tested positive for coronavirus. My willpower was rock solid," BK said.