'I can't be home this Dashain'

Published On: October 5, 2019 05:45 AM NPT By: Aditi Baral

KATHMANDU, Oct 4: The last time Captain Ujjwal Silwal remembers celebrating Dashain with his family is a couple of years ago. Captain Silwal is a pilot of Nepal Airlines who has an experience of 19 years in the field of aviation. For him, the sky is like his home and the wind his companion.

Silwal, 47, a father of two, says he rarely gets to celebrate Dashain and Tihar with his family. “In the 19 years of my career as a pilot, it's just 5 or 6 times I've celebrated Dashain and Tihar with my family. The rest of the years I've always dedicated to my work,” Silwal told Republica.

Captain Silwal's profession as one of the few captains of Nepal Airlines obliges him to be ready to work at any hour of the day, any time of the year. Even with a compulsion of attending flights at the dead of night and from dusk till dawn, he still loves his work. “I attend both domestic as well as international flights but during the festive season we generally get more domestic flights.

To be honest, I like attending domestic flights more because it connects many little stories,” he said adding, “Most of the cases in domestic flights are of people returning home. All passengers have immense emotions stowed within themselves. It is an honor to get to serve people and help them reach their destinations safely during such an important time of the year. After all, to successfully help people is what we all live for, isn't it?”

Occupied with work almost every time, his family does have certain complaints, however through all these years they've learnt to accept it. “Be it during festivals or any ordinary day of the year, Baba rarely gets to spend time with us. Undoubtedly, it's sad; we miss him a lot during every festival but it's understandable given the nature of his work,” said Prasamsha Silwal, Captain Silwal's daughter. Smiling she added, “I am proud of his profession and I am happy that he thrives to serve the people, any time and almost every time.”

Twenty-six years old Urmila Sunar who is a nurse at Sumeru City hospital has a similar story. She has served as a nurse in the hospital for the last four years but it was only once in these four years that she got to celebrate Dashain and Tihar with her family. “We have regular duty even during festivals or holidays. The work hour is minimized but we cannot take leave,” said Sunar, adding, “The hospital authority does reduce staffers during Dashain and Tihar. However, we cannot turn away from our work because if we start expecting leave who will look after the patients? It is our soul responsibility.”

Although it's a tough job that keeps her distant from her family most of the times, Sunar explains that she still loves her work. For her providing patients with best treatment and care when they need it is the biggest achievement and that keeps her happiness balanced even when she hardly gets to spend time with her family members during festival like Dashain and Tihar.

Santosh Khatri (first name changed because he asked Republica not to mention his name), a 45 years old traffic police officer stationed at Thapathali road stifles a similar story within himself. Originally from Kaski, Khatri has served as a traffic police officer for 13 years now. Some 15 years ago, he came to the Kathmandu Valley to do something by his own. Working at almost four different places for two years, he was finally suggested by a friend to join the traffic police. Since then he has served as a traffic policeman on different roads of the Valley. Every Dashain he gets a call by his elderly parents who are accompanied by his wife and an 11 years old daughter.

“During Dashian, my wife and my daughter join my parents in Kaski. My work doesn't let me go. The last time I had gone to celebrate Dashain was two years ago. It was the second time I celebrated Dahain with my family in Kaski since becoming a traffic policeman, ” Khatri told Republica. He was constantly avoiding to talk since he was on duty. Lastly, when asked if he ever feels sad about not getting to celebrate an important festival like Dashain with his family, he smiled and replied, “I am a security personal now. Being able to serve the citizens and our nation is the biggest celebration for anyone with a profession like mine”.

According to Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD), there are about 1,370 traffic police officers deployed in the Valley. Of them, 134 are female. However, none of these traffic police officers get leave during Dashain. They all have to work even on the main day.

“The ones who have their family in the Valley can manage time to celebrate the main day with their families, but for the ones whose families are out of the Valley, it's hard for them because we don't have a day-off even on the main day of Dashain,” said SP of MTPD, Rabi Kumar Poudel.

Poudel who is also the spokesperson for the MTPD, added, “Once we are a security personal we are committed to serving our nation in any condition, festivals like Dashain should not be a barrier between us and our responsibilities. Our office is our second home and we celebrate almost every festival here, together.” Poudel who has been in this field for 23 years now hardly remembers going back to his hometown to celebrate Dashain.

Besides pilots, nurses and security personnel, people working for radio stations, too, have the same story to tell. Amrit Jung Malla Thakuri who is a Radio Administrator at Radio Nagarik for the last two and a half years has worked in the office even on the main day of Dashain. “Although we do not have to work for the whole day, we still have to come to the office and look after everything,” he said.

As stated by Malla, it would be fun if they had festive holidays but, being able to connect with the people through their work even during holidays is more fun for the entire team. “It feels good to realize that the work we do is a never-settling work,” Thakuri said. It is the same case for Thakuri's two other colleagues Bhumi Raj Shrestha and Rabindra Shakya. Shrestha is the technical head and Shakya is a news presenter.

For both of them, it is mandatory to be at work even during the main day of Dashain. Shrestha who is originally from Dharan has not been to his hometown to celebrate Dashain for over three years now. He describes that initially he had to hear some complaints from his family for not being able to celebrate Dashain together most of the times but they've all understood his importance at his office now. “It might sound like a tough job to others but it's quite not tough. We do get to chose between Dashain and Tihar. I rather prefer taking leave in Tihar,” he said. “Leave during festivals is relaxing but to stay true to what you have chosen as a profession is a different kind of happiness."

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