Kishan Bahadur was a jolly, carefree soul. He's the first one telling a vakeelji who's lost his files to chill; the first to smile as you enter Patiala House court complex’s tension-drenched filing room. But since April 25, this year, Kishan Bahadur has become a different person.
He’s from Pokhara Village in Nepal, where a 7.8 Ritcher scale earthquake that hit the country last month destroyed 90% of the buildings. Kishan’s house — where his wife and two small children reside — was demolished he tells me. With a sigh of relief, he adds, no one was home at the time.
“My wife was at the neighbors, and the kids were in school. It’s only by pure luck and gods’ grace that I still have a family,” he explains.
He adds, "they don’t have a house to live in anymore and are staying with the neighnours.” He shrugs, but one can tell his pride is hurt -- he's the sort of man who believes in taking from no one.
Having no home to go back to is not the end of Kishan’s woes. Due to the sudden force majure, he also has no money for the trip home, or to fix the broken down building once he gets to his destination.
Being a proud Bahadur and has not yet asked the district judge in charge Amar Nath for help as of yet. Truth told, he confesses, he did not know asking the DJ for help was an option.
In fact, Kishan and others like him are worried that their pay will be affected if they go to Nepal during court working days. At the moment, lower court staff is only given a certain number of leaves, and anyone exceeding those gets a pay-cut.
Those Nepalis who have already used their limited number of paid holidays are not getting any concession to visit their homeland post-Earthquake. With the typical Bahadur sense of humour he adds, the only good thing is that this happened at the beginning of the year, so not many have taken holidays yet.
Strapped for cash themselves, Kishan’s colleagues in the filing room are collecting money on his behalf. So far, ten people have contributed, and they have Rs. 2000 to give towards rebuilding a house whose value in memories cannot be quantified.
“Not a lot of the staff is being generous as well. I’ve contributed, some others have. Some know Kishan needs the money but ignore us. I mean how much can one go door to door also na?” one Reader tells me under the condition of anonymity.
There are at least 20 Pokhara villagers working as junior staff or menial labour in various district courts in Delhi. The overall count of Nepali workers within the city’s judicial system exceeds 100.
Tis Hazari court, which has about 50 Nepalis working in it has the largest number, closely followed by Saket court that employs 20 and Patiala House Court that employs 18-20 persons.
I spoke to a number of them from various district courts, and their situation was found to be similar, if not exactly, like Kishan’s story.
(This reportage is entirely in my personal capacity, has nothing to do with my employer, and was done on my own time. Any liability stemming from the same should be placed on me, and no one else.)
Ps- If you want to help Kishan and others like him, please go to the Court Staff Secretaries at the various district courts, and donate what you comfortably can to their cause.