DANG, March 21: Wearing a huge Madal (Nepali hand drum) around her neck, Ganga Gandarva starts singing while her twin sister Jamuna accompanies her with the beat. Though their singing impresses everyone around, the expression on their mother, Rupa's face barely changes. With a painful look on her face, Rupa says, "They often ask me, 'Mummy, when will we see the world?' But I am speechless," adding, "They are already so happy, I wonder how happy they would be if they could only see the world."
Ganga and Jamuna were born with visual impairment. Their elder sister Manisha, 10, is not just visually-impaired but also struggles with speech. Her bed is the world to her as she rarely gets out of it. She cannot even walk properly. "She can't see, nor can she speak. Her legs don't support her while walking," laments mother Rupa.
These girls also have an elder brother who goes to school. However, he too is visually-impaired and walks with the support of a cane while going to school and returning home. Rupa has four children but none of them can see. "As they can't see, I always try to be around them to make sure they are fine," she said.
Originally from Rukum, this family of five is currently living in a rented room in Tulsipur Sub-Metropolitan City-4 of Dang. All of them share a single room. "I was obliged to leave home with my children after my husband married another girl," said Rupa. Accusing her of giving birth to blind children, her husband married another woman, she says.
It is not as if all children born from her womb were visually impaired. Two were not visually-impaired but they died due to illness. "My husband told me that he wants to bring another wife so that he can have normal children. I accepted his decision," she said. Her husband had agreed to keep her and the children with him even after his second marriage but that could not happen. "I tried my best to tolerate his second wife but failed. So, I left their house clutching my little children," she added.
Since she has no source of earning, she has been managing the expenses of her children by the money provided by donors and social organizations. She has no hope that her children will ever see the world. She took them to several hospitals but the doctors stated that her children cant be treated. "I could die peacefully if only one of my children gets vision," she said.
She often has sleepless nights, wondering who will take care of her children after her death. A house of our own could be a relief for us, she says. "Our landlord often scolds my children for doing dirt but they don't understand that they can't see. I wish we had a home of our own so that my children won't have to go through this," Rupa said.