ROLPA, Oct 10: Tulasa Kami was just 24 when she lost her husband to the ‘people’s war’ some 17 years ago. Her husband, Bamdev Kami, was shot dead by security personnel a few kilometers away from her home at Holleri market in Rolpa district. She gave birth to son Thakendra 45 days after the killing of his father. Life never became easy for this family since then.
“I was very young when they gunned him down. We had a daughter already and a son was born later. Life turned miserable as I had no proper job to feed them,” she said, adding that she would be grateful if the state could take educational responsibility for her son.
While her daughter Mana Kumari, 18, dropped her studies due to poverty, Thakendra wants to pursue technical education. He passed secondary education level (SEE) last year. "He has been asking me for a little support so that he can go to the field he wants. I have raised my kids with a great difficulty and often I keep my problems to myself. Any mother wants to keep their kids off any troubles," she said.
Tulasa runs a small grocery shop. Whatever she earns hardly suffices basic expenses of her family. Had there been no war and no murder of her husband, the kids would get a bright future, she asserts. "They cannot bring back my husband, but when they killed him in the name of 'New Nepal', what gives them moral ground to stay at the helm of power but never look at the people like us?" she asked, venting ire against the top Maoist leadership in the government.
Another woman raped by the army when she was 24 years old has questions to the state too. The tragic incident that took place in Rolpa 18 years ago badly hit her health. Since then, she lost the love and affection she'd get from her husband too.
"He keeps torturing me on and off. After that incident he has become very cold and unfeeling toward me," she said requesting anonymity. "All this has affected my children equally. I wish the state took care of their responsibility," said the mother of three from the southern part of Rolpa.
She has an 11-year-old son and seven and nine year old daughters. Sending them to school and bearing their educational expenses is not something within her capacity anymore. "If anyone would take them away and give them a bright future, I would be ready to forsake them," said the mother.
According to a local of Holleri, Ishwari Gharti, who's working closely with conflict victims, a lot of women raped and widowed back then are living deserted lives. They are robbed of dignity as well as opportunities. And the condition of those who have children is even pathetic.
"Their saga of struggles will bring tears into any eyes. But it is not seen by the state," said Gharti, who's also the former district secretary of Federation of Nepalese Journalist. "If the government took care of the education of their kids, I mean entire expenses, that would relieve them to some extent. A lot of raped women still need some medical care, depending on their conditions, and they are deprived of that too," she added.
People in Rolpa-- the epicenter of the decade-long Maoist conflict-- had boycotted elections earlier as 'the Maoists leaders betrayed them'. However, they agreed to vote in the general elections three years ago.