A Mother’s Long Journey – III

Published on Jun 01 2009 // News Analysis
By T. P. Mishra

Whether or not peaceful-and-democratic movements would be launched in Bhutan someday in future, she has already started making cash deposit in her bank account to contribute for the cause. She has almost saved around one hundred thousand Kroner (equivalent to 15,918 US dollar) about which she has already informed the Norwegian authorities as well.

“I will contribute this amount for the democratic struggle in Bhutan but that should hit the success”, she says, followed by the recitation of a patriotic poem she had jotted after five months of her forcible eviction from her homeland.


The three daughters

The three daughters

Perhaps, her lips easily reflected the words of sentiments for that land where she born: against the Druk regime’s suppression on Nepali-ethnic Bhutanese, depiction of the fate of evictees and obviously a pro-democratic. Hardly had she stopped crying, once she started reciting her poem, quite for some time, clearly to mean she still posed a deep-rooted sense of respect, love and devotion towards her birthplace, Bhutan.  

For Suk Maya Rai, 32, of Jhapa-based Beldangi-II camp under Sector I/3-22, her life after resettlement in Alta municipality in Norway, two hours by plane to reach the capital city, Oslo, has explored more possibilities of earning a dignified and better living. “Our life in Norway is perfect and cool”, says Suk Maya over a more-than-one-hour long telephonic conversation.

A long-posed hallucination of Suk Maya has come to reality; all of her five children are going to school and are succeeding in the field of studies. “I along with the eldest daughter, Sara, will be joining grade 11 once we finish the language classes”, says Suk Maya, “now I can well communicate with people in Norwegian language.”

The first-resettled family in this Northern European country in January 2008, Suk Maya,  was frequently tortured by her spouse who had a second marriage. “I often shed tears from my eyes remembering my offended life inside refugee camp. Many neighbors used to dominate me for being a rape-victim family.”

Suk Maya

Suk Maya

The fresh memories of both physical and mental torture given by her spouse haven’t yet been erased from her mind. She makes an appeal to the UNHCR office in Nepal not to refer her spouse’s case for resettlement in Norway. “I have heard that he (her husband) is trying to rejoin with me here in Norway. I would be unsafe if he comes here and stays with me”, adds Suk Maya.  

These days the Rai family receives 32, 000/- Kroner (around 5,000 US dollars) per month, increased by 12,000 Kroner to the amount she used to get some months back, for managing the basic expenses to earn her living. Suk Maya need not have to pay rental charges for a small-and-beautiful house, situated some 2,000 km away from the capital city, government pays for her.

The financial support provided by the government is sufficient for this small family. “My caseworker provide me even with some extra money upon my request, particularly during the time of festival”, adds Suk Maya, a devotee of Christianity.  

It may, for many of us, be mind-boggling tip to hear at but Suk Maya says the Alta Kommune (Fliktning Kontur) has provided her with three house workers; they assist her to look after her children, clean and manage the house, among other domestic works. “They sometimes try to assist me even to take off my clothes and shoes when I back to home from my language classes but I have never given them this opportunity”, says Suk Maya, maintaining that she never has a sense of getting ‘arrogant at’ when she earns better and maintains standard living.

When asked about how she gets updated on news related to Bhutan and refugees, Suk Maya, flashing some signals of happiness says, “You know? I learnt about internet facilities. I often visit news sites; sometimes seek help of my children who are used to with it.” Lack of confidence in using the e-mail, however, yet continues as she says she would not create her own e-mail ID unless she is entirely used to with it.

Suk Maya’s immense attainment in being competent to learn about the internet facilities is a big testament to the fact that where there is will there is a way, also a ‘challenge’ to those who say uneducated people can’t do anything after resettlement in third countries.

Suk Maya's family before leaving Nepal

Suk Maya's family before leaving Nepal

For Suk Maya, acquiring formal education had been a mere dream almost before she boarded the plane (at the age of 31) from Nepal to Norway. Now the countdown has begun. She will join her grade 11, in her own words, once she completes her language classes, thanks to the UNHCR for its sincere effort to resettle this vulnerable family.

“Many people have discouraged me from getting resettled in third country. The reasons they used to cite was that women would be unsafe in western lands, however, now I can say it is not like that. I am safe; I have the privilege of spending a dignified and most respectable life here in Norway”, says Suk Maya, while during a recall of her past days inside UNHCR-managed camps in Nepal.  

The resettlement of at least nine Bhutanese families, 49 individuals in Alta municipality, has added in her the degree of cheerfulness. All of them share the same room during the schooling days for their language classes. “I often visit my Bhutanese friend’s apartment. Whenever I wish to be there I make a call at the municipality and seek for the vehicle, they will then drop me there and help me get back to my house”, adds she.

 “Earlier I didn’t finish reciting the whole content of my poem. Can I continue it now?” she questions. As she keeps reciting the poem, a buzzing sound was distinctly heard as if she was banging on chest with her hands, probably in an attempt to show her degree of devotion towards her long-awaited final destination, Bhutan. 

 “Jeg elsker Bhutan. Jeg liker å reise hjem en dag”, adds Suk Maya, which means ‘I love Bhutan’. ‘I like to return home one day.’

(This is the third part of the series ‘A mother’s long journey’. See Part-I and Part  II.