Septuagenarian back in Thamel after 51 years

Kathmandu, September 13 :

Seventy-seven-year-old Bhavani Thapa was surprised when she visited Thamel, where she lived for 10 years, after a break of 51 years. “Thamel, where I lived for 10 years, has changed. There are buildings and gullies all around, enough to leave me clueless,” said Thapa, who has come here all the way from India to see her relatives.

Her story begins with a flashback of the year 1955, when she, accompanied by PY Joseph, an Indian national from Cochin, had left Nepal for Patna. Joseph had worked as a member of the Indian technical team to build an airport in Kathmandu.

“I was 23 when I met Joseph in 1952. We were waiting for a relative, who was supposed to come from Calcutta. The flight got delayed and we came across staffers of the airport,” Bhavani told The Himalayan Times, adding that Joseph and his colleagues became family friends with the Thapas and used to visit the Thapa household regularly.

“I used to live with my mother Hem Kumari Thapa, elder brother Ram Sharan Thapa, who was in the Army then, and his wife Nanda Kumari, and their four sons Radheshyam, Mohan, Janak and Sushil,” said Bhavani, adding that her father, Nayan Bahadur Thapa, had died when she was five-months-old. “My elder brother was more like my father and I used to call him Bua.”

“Astrologers had told me I would be widowed the next the day I got married,” recalled Bhavana.

“Despite my elder brother’s attempts to dissuade me from marrying a foreigner, I walked away with a Christian, not bothering to match horoscopes,” she said.

“I converted to Christianity at the Holy Family Church in Patna and got married to Joseph,” she added. They were transferred to Calcutta soon after marriage. Joseph passed away five years ago at the age of 80.

“Coming back to Nepal then was not a good idea since Christians were not welcome in Hindu homes,” she said, recalling old days.

“I was in touch with my brother until 1957. I lost contact after I fell ill.”

Bhavana, who is accompanied on her trip by her two daughters, Mala and Rita, said she returned to Nepal out of love for the home where she was born. But she has not yet found her family.

“My mother’s name is Hem Kumari,” she said, identifying Ram Sharan and Nanda Kumari as her elder brother and sister-in-law. “Punya Bahadur Karki, my maternal uncle, was a colonel in the army,” she said, adding, “Rohit Thapa, my uncle, was in the police force.”