“Father was a poor man who worked for a rich man. I would go with father to the landlord’s house to help him with his work. I remember sometimes the landlord would give me a half-eaten plate of food. I would devour it because food was never sufficient at home, and I was hungry most of the time. And sometimes he would give me tea. And I was a happy kid. The tea had milk and sugar after all.
As I grew up and spent more time with father I came to learn that he had borrowed money from the landlord for all of the family affairs. I think he carried that burden all of his life. He would tell me, ‘Son, whatever you do in life, never be indebted to someone. You lose your freedom.’ And I always took what he said to heart. When I had my daughter, my wife felt terribly sick.
My father’s poverty had passed on to me and now I was a poor man working for a rich man. And I did not have the money for the hospital so I had to borrow money. I remember the hospital bill was somewhere around 30,000 Rupees. Both my daughter and my wife recovered but I now had a loan that I could not repay. Whatever I earned was barely enough. In desperation, I went to India and worked all day and night, eating one meal a day, sending money home to my wife and children and saving some so that I could repay the loan.
I was there for three years and I do not ever remember being happy. I had lost my freedom, the loan had taken away my mental peace. After three years of toiling in India, I came home and paid the last thousand of the loan. I was loan free. I was free. I remember I was finally able to draw a deep breath of peace. Brother, I cannot tell you how happy I felt when I had repaid my loan. Brother, it felt like it was a start of a new life.”
– Binod Kumar Mandal, Dhanusadham 2, Dhanusa
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