Lack of annual leave, disintegrating migrant worker families

Published On: December 28, 2016 01:30 AM NPT By: Krishna Oli

BAJURA, Dec 27: Pema Thapa Bhote of Pandusain returned after working in Malaysia for three years. When he reached his home in Martadi on December 18 he found only his three children. His wife was missing. He searched for her, but she was nowhere. Neighbors hinted that she might have eloped.

“She had promised to receive me at the bus park. I never felt that anything was wrong until I reached home. This is something that I never expected,” said Bhote who shared that initially he did not even wanted to listen to his neighbors.

They had suggested that she might have eloped with Ratan BK of Badimalika municipality. But he was not willing to believe and kept waiting for her to return. “Though they were repeatedly saying the same thing, my heart would deny it. I waited for three days expecting that she might return home. But she did not.” 

Subsequently, he resorted to police for tracking her down. As Police took BK in custody, Bhote’s wife reached out to the police station to rescue him. “When she came to the police station a part of me was happy to see her. But the realization that she was there for the other man, not for me, turned that happiness into disgust,” he says.  

The encounter changed both of their lives. The incident separated them forever. “There was nothing left to see or understand, our relationship was over at the very moment,” said BK who had married her a decade ago. 

Bhote’s saga of struggle in Malaysia coupled with the tragedy he met back home is enough to make anyone emotional. “While in Malaysia, I had fallen sick. But I kept on working hard to improve the condition of my family,” Bhote narrated. But that’s not all. 

Along with the deception, Pema is now penniless. His wife took all the money he had remitted from Malaysia. “Over the course of my stay I sent Rs 6,50,000 to her so that we could start some business and would never have to go abroad again. I saved that money after going through a lot of hardship, but she has taken them all,” Bhote said showing the 13 remittance vouchers as proof of the transaction and struggling to control from bursting into tears. 

Bhote, a shepherd, had gone to Malaysia as the sheep trade was not going well and it was becoming hard for the family to sustain by borrowing money from a local lender at high interest rates. Next year, he helped his brother financially for flying to South Korea for job. “She not only took the money that I sent to her. She has taken the money that my brother remitted to her from South Korea,” he said informing that his wife has filed for divorce. 

Dil Bahadur Rokaya, a resident of Dahakot - 3 who is presently working in South Korea has realized that he has been cheated emotionally and financially by his wife who has recently eloped away. Talking to Republica over phone from South Korea, he said that everything was fine between them and that he had been remitting her money on a regular basis. “She was so sweet with me. Though I was working here, I always missed her and talking to her on phone was a great joy,” he said while reminiscing their relationship before everything became bare and he realized that she had ditched him and their three-year old son and eloped with someone else carrying two million rupees.  

“I was shocked to know that she eloped by giving our son in the guardianship of one of our relatives in Dhangadi. I had always catered to her needs and except being together I had fulfilled all her desires,” he said. Rokaya fell in love with the former-Maoist combatant and married her five years ago. A graduate in environmental science he headed for South Korea on a five-year working visa three years ago on her advice. 

When their son came into this world three years ago, she had insisted for living alone in Martadi, leaving her in laws in Dahakot. Convinced that living conditions will be better for his wife and their son in the town, he agreed. “I wanted to give her all the happiness I could. And when she said that she wanted to live in Martadi so that she can take better care of our son and herself, I agreed though my parents were not happy about it,” he said adding that since then he has been remitting all his income to two bank accounts opened in her name. 

Police informed that she eloped with Mukesh Kunwar from Achham. Mukesh worked as an assistant in a local trader’s shop that is near to her residence in Martadi. They also verified that till last month a total of 3.4 million rupees was deposited from South Korea in both of the accounts in her name. Presently, balance in both  the accounts is nill. Along with the son, the wife has left a letter to Rokaya disowning rights on property and the child. 

These are actually just the tip of the iceberg. Due to foreign employment growing number of families in Bajura are being affected and children are left helpless. Though huge number of men still continue to go to India for labor, rising number of youngsters are heading for Gulf nations for better income. Unlike employers in India, Gulf employers do not let employees visit home annually. Most often migrant workers are allowed to repatriate in a gap of three to four years. This long absence is costing them and their family lives dearly.

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