Chapter One – cont.

Once the whole family had moved to Chitwan in 1968 they never returned to live in Nangi. Kisna’s home and fields were taken over by family members. As far as Mahabir knows they were not sold, just redistributed. Mahabir continued his studies in Chitwan and his father farmed until he died. The circumstances surrounding his father’s death are sad but not uncommon in a developing nation like Nepal.

View of Chitwan’s flat fields from the air. A very different farming style from the terraced fields of Mahabir’s childhood. Oct. 2012

In 1988, the year Kisna died, Mahabir was in Kathmandu investigating ways to study abroad. Mahabir’s sister had discovered a lump on Kisna’s back. When Mahabir heard about the lump he encouraged his father to come to Kathmandu. Mahabir took him to the Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu. At that time there were no hospitals in the Chitwan area able to handle complex medical problems. Mahabir told me it took the doctors about a month to diagnose the lump as cancerous. In Mahabir’s own words: “I did not tell that to my father and mother except to my sister. After that my father went to Chitwan and died within six month.”

His father would have been about 58 years old, certainly no older than 60 when he succumbed to cancer. I don’t know why he kept it a secret except to spare them anguish for a situation they could not change. Back in the 1980s treatment for the probable diagnosis of malignant melanoma, a skin cancer, was not available for someone as poor as his father. Even now, with advances in cancer care in Nepal, most people cannot afford even basic treatment for comfort and end of life care.

The only pictures of his father are the ones I published in the past two posts. No one had cameras or the means to buy film for processing when Mahabir was young. I have heard Mahabir speak about his father as if he is still alive, and I believe his father is very much alive in Mahabir’s spirit of entrepreneurship, dedication and foresight. For Kisna to have moved his whole family from ancestral lands took courage and vision….vision to understand education is the basis for a better life because it provides choices…a vision Mahabir carries forward.

Who is your life left a lasting impression? Share your story with your fellow readers by leaving a comment. Just click on the comment bubble in the right hand corner of this post. Join me next week and meet Mahabir’s mother, Purbi Pun, who is still living in Chitwan.

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