Ramesh Rai’s story: Compelling life decisions

Born in DevRamesh Rai Scan photoisthan VDC-3, Khotang in 2032 B.S, Ramesh has since  lived in Nawalparasi, Butwal, Gorakhpur, Delhi and Birgunj, engaged in labor work, rickshaw pulling, security guard’s duty, and cooking at hotels. He has four siblings, but Ramesh has mostly lived on his own. Without any formal education, he can still read and write from what he learnt in his step dad’s private tuitions; though he admits he has a very weak eyesight lately, resulting from overdose of alcohol. Since very young Ramesh entered the hotel enterprise, where he learnt how to make mithais, samosas and the like. This is something he is very good at, however, even after recovery from excessive drinking his family is hesitant to have him enter this field. Chances are high that the heavy labor needed in cooking in such a large scale might push Ramesh into drinking again.

 

It is customary in his community (Pumarai), to celebrate with alcohol, where children are also offered small quantities of it as Prasad. Early in his life Ramesh indulged in alcoholism as a relief from the day’s heavy labor. This was easier because of his lonesomeness. After he got married, Ramesh would cater to both of his children when his wife would be abroad working. He managed his life despite drinking, he would send off his children to school, earn a day’s living, cook food for them and then drink outside before he would come to sleep. It became a routined activity. Ramesh had to face the death of his only son due to brain tumor. He and his wife had to sell their property, and stay in Bhairahwa for three months for their son’s treatment, but it could not save his life. This added to Ramesh’s alcohol consumption.

 

It was Ramesh’s wife who on her visit Nepal decided to have Ramesh enter Sano Paila’s Action for Addiction(AFA), a community-based rehabilitation center. She did the payment for the six-months treatment. Three months out of AFA, under recovery, Ramesh shares, “The schedule at AFA was such that we had no time to think about addiction, we were always engaged in some activity.We played games, entertained with singing and dancing, had competitions, sharing sessions and learning. At the end of the day, we would more than welcome the 8-hour sleep.” Complete bar from access to drugs or addictive substance was a major factor in helping clients recover. In the sharing sessions, Ramesh says that he felt very empathetic with his fellow-mates at AFA when they would express the extent of control addiction had on their lives. “Brothers at AFA have been very helpful, and given valid warnings for our lives out of AFA. We are strictly prohibited to fall into the company of our old friends, or walk the old path,” says Ramesh. He is resolute that now he will not ever fall into the extremes of his previous state.

Ramesh, however, admits to casual drinking now and then. Belonging to the Rai community, he cannot escape offers of drinks, but he now knows his limit.Currently working as a security guard at Sano Paila’s Children Receiving Home, Ramesh says he still is not accepted as a “clean” person in the society or within his extended family in Birgunj.

Report by:  Shalini Gupta (10 Sept 2015)