नाम: उज्वल श्रेष्ठ
जन्म: १९८६, स्वयम्भु, काठमाडौँ
बसोबास: काठमाडौँ

टिका लाएको फोटोको मूल्य ३ लाख रुपैयाँ !

म सेल्सम्यानका रूपमा काम गर्न भनेर साउदी अरेबिया गएको थिएँ । विमानस्थलमा उत्रिएको केही समय मात्र भएको थियो । एक जना प्रहरी आए र मलाई थानामा लगे । मैले किन निधारमा टिका लगाएको हुँ सोधे । धेरै केरकार गरे । केही थप्पड पनि लगाए । मैले आफू निर्दोष रहेको कुरा बिन्ती गरेँ । बल्ल चार घण्टापछि मलाई छाडे ।
अचेल पनि हरेक चोटि टिका लगाउँदा मलाई त्यही थप्पडको याद आउँछ ।
मेरो परिचय पत्रमा पनि टिका लगाएकै फोटो टाँसिएको थियो । त्यसैले हरेक चोटि परिचय पत्र देखाउँदा ममाथि सोधपुछ हुन्थ्यो । म त्यहाँ अठार महिना बस्दा चार पटकसम्म थुनामा परेँ । जरिवाना र घुस दुबै गर्दा तिन लाख रुपैयाँभन्दा बढी खर्च भयो । ओहो मेरो साइतको टिकाले किन मलाई यहाँ फसाइरहेछ ??
निम्न मध्यम वर्गको परिवारमा जन्मिएको मानिस हुँ म । बल्लतल्ल ब्याचलर पास गरेँ । तर के गर्नु ? भनेजस्तो काम पाइएन । पछि बल्लबल्ल दुई ओटा जागिर खाएँ । तर दिनको चौध घण्टासम्म काम गर्दा पनि महिनाको तिन हजार रुपैयाँ मात्र कमाउन सकेँ । दुई वर्ष यसै गरी बित्यो ।
यसबीचमा मलेसिया जान खुब प्रयास गरेँ । तर कहिल्यै सफल भइएन । बरु साउदी अरेबियामा पो काम मिल्यो त ।
अन्तर्वार्तामा मलाई मेरो कामबारे खासै केही बताइएन । तर पनि म मख्ख थिएँ । राम्रो पैसा आउने कामका लागि म नेपाल बाहिर निस्केको थिएँ । भिसा र टिकटका लागि पचासी हजार रुपैयाँसम्म खर्च गरेँ मैले । पछि पो थाहा भयो साउदीमा काम गर्न जानेले भिसा र टिकट त निःशुल्क पाउने रहेछन् । म्यानपावर कम्पनीले हामीलाई ठग्दा रहेछन् । हामी गरिबको पैसा खाएर उनीहरू के पाउँदा हुन् ?
जागिरको पहिलो दिन भने खुबै रमाइलो भयो । कसरी भन्नुहोस् न ?
पिटाइ खाँदा सुन्निएको अनुहार लिएर म अफिस पुगेको थिएँ । त्यहाँका मान्छेले मलाई पार्किङ् गर्ने ठाउँमा लगे । मलाई एउटा ठुलो ट्रक भएको ठाउँमा लगे । ट्रक पनि कत्रो भन्नुहोस् न ? सायद् पाङ्ग्रा नै मेरो जिउभन्दा ठुलो थियो होला । मलाई त्यही गाडी चलाउन भने । म त झन्डैँ बेहोस पो भएँ किनकि आजसम्म मैले कुनै पनि गाडीको स्टियरिङ् छोएको थिइँन । अब के गर्ने ?
मैले उनीहरूलाई बताएँ कि म त सेल्सम्यानको काम गर्न आएको हुँ । तर अहँ, मेरो कुरा कसैले सुनेनन् । मलाई ६ महिनाका लागि ड्राइभिङ् सिक्न पो लगाए । सँगसँगै भरियाको काम पनि गर्नुपर्ने भयो । ५०÷५५ डिग्रीको तापक्रममा ५० किलो भारी बोकेर हिँड्नुपर्ने भयो । भनौँ न खाडीको मरुभुमिमा गधाले नपाएको दुःख पाइयो । कम्पनीले मेरो भिसा र टिकट किनिदिएको थियो रे । त्यसैले मलाई घर फर्किन पनि दिएनन् ।

मैले ड्राइभिङ् लाइसेन्स पाएकै दिन मलाई एक जना नेपालीले गाडीको साँचो थमाइदिए । उनको एउटा हात थिएन । उनको कथा मेरोभन्दा दुःखद् छ । उनी पनि सेल्सम्यान बन्ने भनेर साउदी अरेबिया आइपुगेका रहेछन् । पछि त वधशालामा पो काममा लगाइएछ । काम गर्दागर्दै एउटा दुर्घटनामा परेपछि उनको हात काटेर फाल्नुपरेछ । कम्पनीले न कुनै छतिपूर्ति दियो, न घर फर्कन दियो । बरु बसेर गर्न मिल्ने अर्को काम दिएछ ।
त्यसपछिका बाह्र महिनामा मैले भेटेका दुई दर्जनभन्दा बढी नेपालीका हात वा खुट्टा काटिएका थिए । कुनै अनुभव र सिप नभएको काममा जबर्जस्ती लगाउँदा त्यस्तो भएको रहेछ ।

मलाई दिइएको नियुक्ति पत्रमा वर्षको एघार महिना मात्र काममा लगाउने र एक महिना घर जानका लाग बिदा दिने भनिएको थियो । तर कम्पनीले मलाई १८ महिना नभएसम्म घर आउन दिएन । घर आउँदा विमानस्थलमा मलाई फेरि निधारमा टिका किन लगाएको भनेर सोधियो ।

फर्किदा जहाजमा मैले एउटा डरलाग्दो सपना देखेँ । काम गर्दागर्दै म पनि कुनै दुर्घटनामा परेछु र मेरा पनि हातखुट्टा काटिएछन् । जहाज ल्यान्ड गर्दा म झल्याँस्स बिउँझिएँ । धन्न आफ्ना हातखुट्टा सग्लै रहेछन् । खुसीका आँसु झरे । आफूलाई भाग्यमानी भन्ठानेँ ।

यो अनुभवले मलाई अझ बलियो बनाएजस्तो लाग्छ । आज आफ्नो खुट्टा उचाल्नुभन्दा अगाडि म कहाँ हाम फाल्दै छु भन्ने थाहा पाउनुपर्ने रहेछ भन्ने कुरा बुझेको छु ।

Name: Ujwal Shrestha
Born: Swayambhu, Kathmandu
Lives: Kathmandu

Photo with a Tika: Priceless (for MasterCard) but for me: Rs. 300,000.00

I landed in Saudi airport to work as a salesman. While waiting at the immigration, I was approached by a policeman, who escorted me into a confinement room and questioned me why there is a Tika on baby-atlas my forehead. After pleading my innocence for 4 hours and couple of slaps, I was released. I still feel the slap every time I put a Tika.

The photo with the Tika became my official ID, and because of this, every time I presented it, I would be interrogated. In my tenure of 18 months, I went to jail 4 times and paid over Rs. 300,000 in fees and bribes. Saudi, being a Muslim state is not tolerant in regards to Hindu traditions.

Being born in a lower middle class family, I scrapped through to get my bachelor degree. Jobs were hard to find, so I ended up working 2 jobs making a mere Rs. 3,000 per month working 14 hours’ a day. During this time, nearly for 2 years, I applied but failed many times to get a job in Malaysia. Then finally, I got the job in Saudi.

During the placement interview, I was never given details of my job, but I was happy to get out of Nepal to earn a decent salary. I paid Rs. 85,000 for visa and ticket, but later I found out that VISA and TICKET is actually free. The manpower company had cheated us and I was very disheartened why people cheat specially the poor.

First day on the job, with the swollen face from the slaps, I was taken to a parking lot. They took me a to truck, it was so big that even the wheels were bigger than me. I was asked to drive. I had never touched a steering wheel in my life, I nearly fainted. I begged and told them I was interviewed for a salesperson. I was forced to a driving school for next 6 months and also had to work as a porter carrying 50 kilo bags in 50 to 55-degree heat. Since the company paid my visa and ticket, they did not let me go home.

The day I got my drivers license, I was handed over the keys of my truck by a Nepali with no hand, literally. His story is more dramatic; he too had come with hope of being a salesperson but ended up in a butchery. His hand had to be amputated due to an accident at work. The company did not give him any compensation, or let him go back home but forced him to a desk job. In the next 12 months, I met over 2 dozen Nepalese who had lost either their limbs or hands because they were forced into jobs which they had no experience in.

My contract said, 11 months’ work and 1-month holiday to go home. My company did not let me go till 18th month, and when they did, I was interrogated once again at the airport for my Tika photo. During my flight back, I had a dream that I had lost my legs and hands in Saudi. As the plane touched down, I woke up and cried to see I was home with my hands and legs intact. I was the lucky one.

Today, with such experiences, I believe I have become a stronger man. Before you make that leap of faith, at least know where you are going to be landing.

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