Mahabir’s father, Kisna Pun, retired from the British Army after 15 years of service as a Gurkha and returned to Nangi as a farmer around 1963. Like many Nepali men he had joined the army as a youth, probably in the late 1940s. He had been stationed in Malaysia . He served in the army as a soldier and fought in Malaysia for the British to repress the rebel forces, ensuring a democratic Malaysian government. The photograph in last weeks post is one of many Gurkha cemeteries in Malaysia. Some men brought their families to live with them during their entire careers abroad but Kisna only brought his family to Malaysia for the last three years of his army career. During that time Mahabir’s second and third sisters were born before his father moved them back to Nepal. During the earlier years of his father’s army service Mahabir would have seen him once every three years when he was granted leave for six months.
When his father returned to Nangi he resumed his occupation as a farmer and Mahabir, as the eldest son, worked beside his father when he wasn’t in school. His father insisted Mahabir go to school, so he studied in the small schoolhouse in Nangi and then in the nearby village of Mallaj where he completed the 8th grade. His education would have stopped here if not for the foresight of his father. There were no higher grades for Mahabir to attend so his father took him to live in Chitwan in 1968 where he could attend higher education.
This is what Mahabir remembers about the trip: “I was 13 years old then. I still remember walking to Chitwan from Nangi though Pokhara for six days to get there. After that my father did farming in one of my uncles field and I went to school. I helped him during the holidays.” The whole family moved to Chitwan two years later and his father lived there until he died in 1988.
Mahabir has told me many times, “I would not have been what I am now without my father. That is the impact he had.” Is there someone in your life who changed the trajectory of your future? Share your experience with your fellow readers by leaving a comment. Just click on the little speech bubble on the upper right hand corner of this post. My saving grace came in the form of my in-laws, Bill and Betty. They taught me what it means to be a family and I believe I would not be where I am now if it hadn’t been for their guidance and expectations. Join me next week for more about Mahabir and his father.