“Forty-five years ago, my eldest son asked me and my family to move in with him in Thimphu. He was only 16 years old then and had found a job as a driver here. Happy to leave behind a hard life in the village we sold all our cattle and horses, butchered the pig, and packed our bags for Thimphu. Life seemed comfortable here. My son earned enough to feed us all. Then he started to fall sick. We made visits to the hospital and tried to find a cure for his illness but he passed away. After his death, his wife refused to take responsibility for their 3 children. So I took it onto myself to raise them. I started selling momos and doma on the streets. It was difficult – we would be chased and our good seized in the name of rules. I sometimes found these officials eating the seized momos before dumping what was left. But I come from a hard life and know resilience. It was not my grandchildren’s fault that their father died so I refused to give up. I was going to do all I could to give them a good life. I wasn’t going to let my son down. Sitting in the cold and heat through all seasons, I saved all my money to put them through school. But it turned out that studying was not in their fates after all. I couldn’t do much when they dropped out by themselves. Only my eldest granddaughter managed to study till class 10 after which she found a job.

Now all of them are grown enough to fend for themselves. At 74, I hardly even have the strength to do household chores, let alone sell momos and doma on the streets. But a grandmother never retires so I still make myself useful at home by looking after my two grandkids from my other son. They are in primary school and I go pick them up from school every day. With the pandemic, some of my kids have lost their jobs. Money at home is scarce and our condition today reminds me a little of when I was struggling to provide for the family. I really hope that this ends soon and we can go back to not having to worry about money every minute of every day.” 

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