Almost every household of Choraut village in Sitamarhi, that sits close to the Indo-Nepal border, has at least a representative in Kathmandu. In Sonpi Kapar’s case, it was an entire family.
Saturday in Nepal left them one short, with the earthquake killing Rajesh Kapar (23), Sonpi’s youngest son. Rajesh’s last act was saving his wife Ruby. “They lived on the first floor of a three-storeyed building. When the earth shook, he pushed his wife out of the first floor and took the stairs,” said Sonpi.
The building collapsed on Rajesh, Ruby is being treated for injuries at the Sitamarhi hospital. Rajesh’s mother Bechni Devi too, is at the hospital, having had a breakdown after the death of her son.
The people of Choraut migrated to Kathmandu as cooks in canteens owned by members of the Marwari community. Those who have returned say while the owners of their catering businesses helped them in the aftermath of the disaster, no government help reached them.
All the residents of Choraut who had returned till Wednesday afternoon did so by spending money out of pocket. “Private buses are charging anywhere between Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 2,500 for the trip to the border here. They fear they will be caught if the authorities raid, so they are not even issuing tickets,” said Manoj Das (29). He was empty-handed. “I ran away from home when the earthquake struck and never went back. On Tuesday morning, I went to the airport but turned back after seeing a long queue,” he said.
Ashok Kumar Saw paid Rs. 1,500 for the trip home. “Buses sent by the Bihar government reached Kathmandu after I left. There were UP state buses, but I hesitated as I would then have to take the trip home from there,” he said. According to him, there are at least 200 people from Choraut still in Kathmandu.