Sunday, 12 July, 2020
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Life during lockdown was experience of transformation



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By Aashish Mishra
Kathmandu, June 30: Bit by bit, the country is starting to emerge out of lockdown and life is starting to inch back to normalcy. For many Nepalis, being locked it for nearly three months was a completely new experience that brought many changes in their lives. The Rising Nepal talked to three people who recounted how the nationwide shutdown affected them.
Automobile mechanic Mangal Neupane of Bhaisepati, Lalitpur was a heavy drinker before the lockdown. While he does not think he was an alcoholic, he accepts that he would start drinking by noon and often be fully inebriated by the evening. “I couldn’t work without a beer in my hand,” he said.
However, the lockdown forced him to close his workshop and remain at home, in constant presence of his two sons. This turned out to be a boon because even though Neupane enjoyed drinking, he would never drink in front of his children. “Letting my children know that their father drinks is a red line I have never crossed. I don’t want them to pick up this habit,” he said.
With his sons always in front of him, he could never manage to sneak a pint in, no matter how much he wanted to. This showed him that he could work without alcohol. “Customers were discreetly bringing their bikes to my home during the lockdown so I never really stopped working. But the difference while working from home was that I could not drink like in the shop. This taught me that I don’t need liquor to function in my full capacity,” he shared.
Neupane has since opened his shop and is once again away from his children. But he has not gone back to drinking. “I drank because I thought it helped me work. Now that I know it doesn’t, I intend to stay sober.”
Haridev Shrestha, living in Hattisar, Kathmandu, was not on speaking terms with his elder brother before the lockdown. They had got into an unpleasant dispute over property in 2015, which even reached the court. So, approaching his brother for help with his wife’s heart ailment didn’t even cross his mind.
“Like everybody else, we were also under financial crunch during the lockdown. So, we were finding it difficult to afford my wife’s heart medications,” he recalled. “The lockdown kept extending; money was getting ever tighter and I couldn’t bring myself to ask my friends for a loan at a time when they also had no income.”
That is when, like in the movies, his brother called him and said that he would loan him as much money as he needed. The very same day, his brother came to his house and handed him Rs 50,000 in cash. “The lockdown showed me that family is, after all, family.”
Student Samriddhi Dahal of Salyansthan, Kirtipur spent the entire lockdown worrying about her SEE exams. She spent the whole period in uncertainty about if and when the exams would be held and this even made her sick at times. “I
thought about SEE so much that I lost my appetite and developed fever,” she said.
Her lockdown was spent studying and revising. She did not want to risk being unprepared should the exams be announced, so she buried herself in her books and notes. “I would occasionally hear rumours about the exams being cancelled and get disappointed. But then the ministry would say that it had not made a decision and I would get anxious.”
In the end, though, the exams were cancelled. But Dahal said the decision came too late. “Had they announced it earlier, students like me could have spent our time productively instead of needlessly preparing for the SEE.” She is now studying for the Grade XI entrance exams. 

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