(1/2 ) “Ama had left us and no one knew where she’d gone. I was sent to a school in India, while apa remarried. He was an extremely busy man and hardly had any time for his family. This was probably why his marriage with ama had failed. I have no memory of my family visiting me even once in my 11 years of schooling in India. I’d even spent my vacations with the school caretaker. When I finally returned home, apa had become an alcoholic and my stepmother was into gambling. I was 16 at the time. My father was rarely at home and stepmother treated me badly. I was made to work all day while she slept late into the afternoon. When her friends came over for card games at night, I had to sleep in the kitchen. I remember her bringing random men over to the house, and she’d try to kick me out of the house just so I couldn’t tell apa. Unable to stand such treatment, I left home. I found work as a helper in a travel agency. I’d trek for days and days with tourists and eventually became a trusted employee in the firm. At home, apa drank himself till he was so sick that he had to be taken to the hospital. Money was hard to come by for the two of them, so my stepmother demanded me to pay for his expenses. Apa was discharged from the hospital after a few days.

Then one day, after returning from a trekking tour, I learned that he had passed away 19 days prior. Communication was still under-developed in 2007. He was cremated in Gelephu. I went there, after noting the address my stepmother had given me with no proper direction. She only wanted me to come if I had money on me. Throughout his rites, she avoided talking to or staying in the same room as me. Maybe she didn’t want me to ask about my share of the inheritance.”

(2/2) “After many years of living life like an orphan, I felt like I officially became one that day. When I was younger, my elder brother had left home after an argument with apa and we never heard from him again. Now, with apa’s death, I was truly all alone. I got into drugs. I also got jailed for one and half years for being involved in a burglary case- my friends had kept stolen goods at my house and despite knowing about it, I was too engrossed in drugs to care. In jail, I suffered from withdrawal. I’d hallucinate and see my dead family. After being released, I was on my way to recovery, but I started having severe headaches. It became unbearable, and the visits to the doctors only frustrated me; I was handed the same painkillers each time. I started writing to a doctor in Mumbai, and upon hearing my symptoms, he said it could be a brain tumor. I left to see him, and after some tests, it was confirmed. But he said I needed to wait a few years to have the surgery. After 3 years, when I lost consciousness for 2 days at a stretch, it was time. My health was fast deteriorating. So, I borrowed 5 lakhs from a friend, sold all my belongings, and underwent the major surgery. For now, I’m back to good health although the doctors told me that the surgery doesn’t guarantee full recovery.

Last year, I found out that my mother died 11 years ago. She’d gone back to her village on the border between Nepal and Tibet. As a child, I would always wish for a family who would tuck me to bed. I dreamed that I’d wake up and see their faces in the morning. I hope that when I have my own family, my children won’t have to endlessly long for the same.”

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