A Boy of Melamchi Khola and His Back!

A boy at Melamchi Khola and a hole on his trouser

22 October: I didn’t notice it at first but, when I noticed, I couldn’t stop myself taking out camera and taking the photo. This small boy was playing in front of me. He was occasionally looking at me and when responding to my questions that ranged from his home and the roadside hotel where we were waiting for food to his friends in the area. His mother was cooking food for us and his (older) brother was talking to Suraj. This boy was playing with his (big) sister who, I guess, was two years older than him.

A boy at Melamchi Khola and a hole on his trouser

He knew that I saw the hole, the hole on the back of his trouser. I smiled and he knew why I had smiled. He tried to cover the hole by clutching the trouser by his left and right hands: one after another. He became so shy but he couldn’t stop laughing as well. He tried his best not to let my camera see his back! He ran from one place to another, while playing with his sister, covering the hole with his hands.

A boy at Melamchi Khola and a hole on his trouser

This boy reminded me of another kid in Kalikot this summer when I had done an unforgettable road trip from Jumal to Surkhet. Here I reproduce a paragraph from my Jumla-Surkhet odyssey journal that describes that particular situation:

As we descended [from Manm, Kalikot] some kids started chasing our vehicle. “Don’t you dare,” an angry Denzel Washington screamed. A little boy seemed to get really mad at him as he turned his back towards us bending his body. There was a big hole on the back of his trousers and we clearly got the message he intended to send through!

Here, the boy wasn’t willing to show the back; he was actually doing the opposite: preventing me from seeing his bum. [Though he ran away to his home-a little further from the hotel- without covering the hole. His hand was holding a stick!]

Okay, how do you interpret these photos? Obviously, the poverty perspective comes at first. Did I do right by clicking the image? Sure I did, I think. Why not? If I hadn’t taken the photo, you wouldn’t have seen the boy and his poverty. Of course poverty is there but then it’s all comparative. His parents were building the hotel that had already cost them Rs. 600,000. “It’s not finished yet,” said his mother who charged us Rs. 150 for plain food, dal and vegetable. We had expected to be charged Rs. 50. We thought they will soon make the home if they charged like this.

A boy at Melamchi Khola and a hole on his trouser

And it’s not just poverty too. I mean in many other rural Nepali villages we can find a child like this who isn’t properly dressed (or dressed with such clothing that shows parts of his bodies like the boy in the photo.) Anyway, I really enjoyed teasing the boy and taking the photographs that not only show is innocence but also the lighter side of a kid. Ach, appreciating your own job! [Here is another portrait of the boy.]

2 thoughts on “A Boy of Melamchi Khola and His Back!

  1. Reader

    Oh god! So poor that boy! कस्तो रहेछ यो मान्छे त मेरो फोटो खिचेरै छाड्यो भन्यो होले उसले है? तर You are a journalist and you should not take any chance. I had seen one documentry by ICRC about missing people and a boy, older than this, was featured like this. His trouser had big whole than this but I say that was poverty because being a young boy he was not shy. He didnt have any problem of being featured. However, this small boy’s condition is different, I guess. It seems, as you have written properly not dressed culture of us.


  2. Californian

    There is a belief in the west that Nepalese smile even in poverty. That might very well be true with this kid. As the writer suggests, poverty is always about comparison though there are these great lines that demark the below and over the poverty for statisticians benefit. No denying that millions of Nepalese are below such lines but it’s really hard to say if the kid above is so poor that he can’t afford to have stitched his trousers. I think it’s more about his parents being ignorant about their son’s clothes than them being poor. The writer states that they are building house spending hundreds of thousands of rupees, charge tourists Rs. 150 for food, how come they can’t afford to have a new trouser to their kid. Or at least sew the old one so that their son doesn’t have to show his back to the visitors.

    We can’t always escape by just blaming it all to poverty. Are we being able to manage ourselves? Are we utilizing resources that are in our control? Are we even using our common sense? And, not to forget, are we showing the effort to sew the holes? Nothing will happen just sitting quite and blaming it all on poverty.

    Again coming to the point of poverty being relative, let me point out the fact that Warren Buffet is poor than Bill Gates.



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