Sunil* is 14 years old and lives in Kathmandu. “I don’t want to go on the street again, I want to work and live. I want to train to be a cook.”
My name is Sunil*. I was born in the South-Eastern district of Nepal. There are seven people in my family – my mother and father; my two older brothers, older sister, younger brother; and me. I studied until grade two. I was seven years old when I came to Kathmandu. I stayed for a long time in Naya Bus Park – I’m not sure exactly how long.
My family had gone from the village to the western district to work. I went to work in a western brick kiln. I had a friend who taught me to smoke cigarettes and I was spoiled from there. I thought of running away.
I came to Kathmandu and when I went back to the village, I did not know where my mother had gone. Owners of the carpet factory came ‘to select’. They came every year, giving money and bonuses. They selected my elder sister. I also wanted to go to work but they told me I was too small. They said that they would only take those above eight or ten years old. Another man came. He knew my father. I said I would also like to go to work with that man. He agreed and took me to Dakshin dhoka. I had to get up early in the morning at 3-4 am. My hands were cracked. In the winter my hands were all cracked and chilly. I felt bad and I thought it was better in the village. I had come to the carpet factory to work, but I had to work from morning to 10pm and we could only eat after 10pm. It was very difficult for me.
My mother came to find me and my sister, who was working in another carpet factory. My mother gave me clothes and 100 rupees, and then went back. I also had a pair of sandals but they got torn. I told my boss to buy me shoes, but he didn’t. He got a little bit angry. One day I went to roam around Bouddha. I went to Naya Bus Park and my mother was also there. There was a hotel where I worked washing dishes. There was a lady who took me to a cyber cafe. I asked her, “do you know how to use a computer?” She told me we can also play games on it. I learned the game and paid attention to it. I used to break the shutters and to save money and play cyber. I used to play cyber games all day, come to the hotel at night, eat food, and sleep. My mother asked me to re-join the earlier workplace as I had started to get spoiled. I said I wouldn’t go there to work. I pretended to go to work but I used to go to the place where my mother was. I gave a lot of trouble to my mother.
I got acquainted with a lady. I started smoking cigarettes and was getting more spoiled. I also met a friend who was like me. He and I used to roam around Thamel where there were more spoiled boys who were consuming dendrite. I used to ask for money from foreigners and cheat them. We also hit the glass on people’s houses and had fun with friends. The lady taught me to consume marijuana. She used to get high and talk vulgar. I got more spoiled. She did not ask for money to buy marijuana. But I would steal money from the hotel, without asking my mother. One day, the lady told me to go and steal money from a man who was sleeping. I stole 1000 rupees and his mobile. The mobile phone was big, it must have been an Android. She gave me 1000 rupees and she took the phone.
The next day I went to visit Bouddha and roamed around. There was a smaller Bouddha there and there was a lot of money in the donation box – cash of 500, 100, 50 rupees. I sat there looking at that money all day. I kept wondering how I could take the money, but people were walking about, the security guard was around, and a CCTV camera was attached.
I went to a hotel. I told the hotel owner that I didn’t have a mobile phone, I didn’t have anyone, and my mother and father had left me. She said, “okay brother, stay with me, I will search for a job for you”. She took me to another hotel owner. I said I would work now and eat until I was full, I pretended to wash the dishes, after eating a lot of food, she went to the toilet, there was no one there. There was a lot of money in the drawer (cash of 5,10) and a Samsung mobile phone. After stealing money and the mobile phone, I ran away and reached the Naya Bus Park. There was a friend named Rojan*. Rojan* and I went to Pashupati and many other places. We bought DVDs with the money I stole. I also sold the mobile phone for 1500 rupees. I bought a pack of cigarettes and stayed up all night smoking cigarettes. I also bought beer and dried meat. I ate and had fun.
My mother was there in the bus park. My mother has been struggling a lot for me. She used to try and help me. She used to pretend not to understand even when she knew everything. My grandfather used to try and convince me a lot. Everyone tries to convince me, “don’t walk like that, don’t get spoiled.” Everyone used to say, “study, it would be good.” I thought, “who has become bigger after studying?” I thought that I would be able to work. My mother even told me to go to the village and study, and she would send me money. I reached Chapur by accepting her offer, but I fled again and came to Kathmandu riding a Tata Sumo. At that time, I was very naughty. I went to the village saying “I don’t have any money”. When I came to Kathmandu the conductor asked me, “who did you come with?” and I showed a person sleeping.
I also worked on a truck with a conductor for seven or eight days. An old man asked me, “Brother, where have you come from? I don’t even know you, what is your surname?” I told him that my mother lives in Kathmandu and the rest I lied about. The man took me to the police who asked me questions. I stayed with the police for five or six days. I had fun there and used to sing a funny song. They were sympathetic towards me but I used to tell lies. The senior police chief ordered them to send me to Kathmandu. The policemen took me there. When they stopped the vehicle at Kathmandu all the policemen gave me money 20 and 100 rupees. I got off at Macha Pokhari, Naya Bus Park. I had a lighter, bought one cigarette and a chewing gum, and sat and ate it.
I went to where my mother was staying in the bus park. She scolded me and said, “Your elder brothers are not like that, why have you become like this?” She said, “Why you are walking like this.” I said, “This is my attitude.” I talked nonsense. One day I told my mother that I would work if she could find work in a good place. She found me a job in a restaurant. The salary was fixed at 7000 rupees and my job was just to wash dishes. I said I would do it. There were a lot of dishes – big and small pots. I was scared of how many dishes I had to wash. I said I was hungry, and the hotel owner gave me food. I said I need to go to the toilet and pretended to go to the toilet. A mobile phone was there, being charged. I picked up the mobile phone and ran away through the small toilet window. I jumped through thorns.
I ran from there to Gaushala. When I arrived at night, I asked the traffic police “What is the time?” He said, “Brother where are you going?” I spoke rudely to the traffic police, and they took me to the station. I have been to the station several times and I escaped from the toilet, but I was caught and taken to the Bhaisepati station. I had a half packet of cigarettes. I put it in the pockets of the police. The policemen then held my hand and asked, “Where is your house?” I said that my mother’s hotel is in Bouddha. They said, “Let’s go”, and got me out of the vehicle. A policeman held my hand. I bit the policeman’s hand and fled. I ran very fast. My clothes were torn after running. It was night. I went to the Naya Bus Park.
There was a small hotel under the sky bridge. I went there and had tea. I had a habit of staying there. I knew the boys there. I used to consume dendrites if I had them. I met an older man who had a house in Manamaiju. I went there. There was no one in the house. I used to break in, search everything in the closet and run away. I would steal a cycle sometimes. A man and I stole a laptop together. I don’t know if he sold it or not. He didn’t give me money. He used to give me tea and cigarettes.
I wondered to myself, “why I am I getting spoiled? I used to live in the village and have so much fun. I used to speak well. Why is this happening now?” At times, it felt difficult. My heart used to tell me I should not do such things. But I didn’t listen to my heart. I did everything by myself. But in fact, I should have accepted what my mother said. I was getting worse and worse.
I used to steal people’s money at night. I was very naughty. When I was outside, I used to beat people. One day I was sleeping under a sky bridge, high after consuming dendrite, when an older male came. He said to me, “Now you have to study in a good place and eat in a good place”. I said, “I won’t go, I will stay here.” He insisted I should go and told me that I will be better off there, it will be easier. He asked me if I wanted to eat noodles. I said I wouldn’t eat, and he took me to Bhrikuti Mandav. He asked me where my house was. I did not speak. I did not say anything. An older female said, “brother now you will go there”. I asked where to go. She said I have to go to the organisation and I said, “okay.”
I was taken to organisation. I thought it would be a place I could live together with other children. When I arrived, I found they kept older kids there and they used to beat them. I stayed there for four and a half months. If I made a small mistake, then they used to beat me. If I used vulgar words, then they would scold and punish me. It was like a rehabilitation centre. They used to scold and beat a lot. I used to wonder when I will get to go home, when will I get to visit my family, and when will I get to see the outside world? They used to take us outside only once or twice a week. There was nothing to see there in the underground-like place.
One day all the children were brought into a room upstairs and lined up. Supervisors from another organisation were there. They selected children including me. They brought six of us here, to the organization I am in now. I’ve been here for nine months. The supervisors make us understand a lot. It feels happy. It feels different. Now it feels like starting a new life.
I have learnt a lot of good things here. I gradually came to understand I can do better now. I will do better. I may have stolen from many people, have lied to many, and people may have cursed me. It’s been nine months since I came here. I haven’t contacted my mother yet. I had her number before, but I don’t have it now. I miss my mother a lot. I have not seen her for many years, but I want to meet her now. My mother is no longer in the bus park. I have not been in contact with any other relatives.
When sleeping at night, I have many thoughts. Sometimes I want to become a rapper – I want to go to an area, like a mountain, up high and play guitar. Everything keeps revolving in my brain. I want to do everything in this one life. If I can’t do it, I will do it in my next life. In my free time, I write. I am composing a song now.
I am happy when I remember the place where I was born, my mother and father. I know the address of my village. I can go easily.
I don’t want to go on the street again, I want to work and live. I want to train to be a cook. I consume dendrite when I get it. I have consumed it for four or five months. I haven’t had tablets or injected needles. I want to learn a little bit, but I don’t want to study much. There are some fun things at school, but I don’t want to study in school. I want to learn English a little bit.”
*All the names have been changed