The porterAnderson started calling out his wife’s name hysterically, but no one was there to help him. He was convinced the porter took off with his belongings and something horrible had happened to his wife.
“How old are you? I don’t think you can carry this load. It is simply too much for you,” said Anderson, a trekker from Germany. His wife Sophia was also with him. Anderson had been to Nepal several times before, but it was Sophia’s first time trekking in Nepal.
“Sir, my name is Thaman Budha and I am 50 years old. I’m strong enough to carry this load and I will not have any difficulty,” said Thaman Budha with confidence.
“If you think you can carry this luggage, then I don’t have any problem. But can you please lift the luggage once? To make sure if you can carry it or not. I don’t want you to leave the luggage in the middle of the trek. Here in Ghandruk, I can find porters, but up on trail it will be difficult to find porters,” said Anderson.
“Don’t worry, sir. I assure you you will be highly satisfied with my service as a porter,” said Thaman Budha, carrying the load.
“Well, I’m convinced,” said Anderson, with a broad smile on his face.
Anderson had come to Nepal for the first time some 8 years ago. Ever since then, he had come to Nepal almost every year for trekking. Although he was not a professional trekker or any sort of climber, he would trek for sheer pleasure. When he was a young man he would go for long, difficult treks, but now Anderson, 56, was happy doing short treks.
Only last year he had been to Mardi Himal. That was the best trekking experience he had ever had in his life. Anderson told many stories of his trekking adventures in Nepal to his wife Sophia. After listening to Anderson’s wonderful trekking stories, Sophia, 53, decided to accompany her husband for a short trek this time.
Anderson and Sophia had only just started the trek. They had started walking from Nayapul to Ghandruk with a porter, and already Sophia was awestruck at Nepal’s wealth of natural beauty. Birds, rivers, mountains and forest simply left Sophia mesmerised.
They had breakfast at Ghandruk and set out for an arduous trek.
“Do you have family, Thaman?” asked Sophia.
“Yes, ma’am. I have my wife and one daughter and one son. My son and daughter are twins. Now they are ten years old,” said Thaman, adjusting his weight.
“Oh, interesting. You have twins. Do they go to school?” asked Sophia.
“No, ma’am. They don’t go to school. I have little land and livestock. My son takes goats and one buffalo out for grazing every day and my daughter goes to cut grass and collect some dry wood in the forest. My wife takes care of household activities,” replied Thaman Budha.
“It seems life must be very difficult in your village. By the way, where is your village?” asked Sophia out of curiosity. Thaman Budha’s talk sounded outlandish to Sophia.
“It is Homa-Hangbang village. It lies 25 km west from Libang, the district headquarters of Rolpa. It is a remote village in Rolpa. There was no motorable road until 2019. We villagers contributed our labour and finally a graveled road was built. That connected our village to upper Lisbang. Now life is a little better than before. At least now we can sell our produce to nearby villages including Libang,” explained Thaman Budha.
“Very interesting,” said Sophia, as she looked for her husband who was coming up slowing. They were passing through Bhanjyang Danda. It was a steep uphill three-km trail that meandered through the hill and ended on the Bhanjyang Kot. Sophia was very tired and asked Thaman Budha to take a little break.
Finally, they reached Bhanjyang Kot. They had lunch and spent some time there before resuming their trek. Now, the trail was all steep downhill. Sophia found walking downhill was much more difficult than walking uphill. Her legs were trembling and she felt as if her legs would soon refuse to carry her weight. In the meantime, Anderson encouraged his wife and asked her to continue walking, because the weather was fast turning ominous. Black clouds had begun swirling from the horizons and visibility had dropped drastically.
The first few droplets began falling sporadically. Thaman Budha put down his load and began covering his doco (corn basket) with a plastic lest the luggage got wet. It was only drizzling and so Anderson and Sophia continued walking. But all of a sudden a heavy downpour made them rush to take immediate refuge under a big tree.
While the rain poured, the sky broke out with a deafening sound and a bright light hit the tree. The light was so bright that Thaman Budha turned blind for some time. He was on the ground and his doco was nearby him. Thaman Budha wanted to lift his doco, but he saw Anderson and his wife Sophia fall unconscious to the ground. Thaman Budha ran towards them. He realised Sophia’s condition was critical, as her pulse was very low. Anderson was also in semi conscious condition.
After about one hour, Anderson regained consciousness and looked around, but he found himself alone there. The heavy rainfall had been over. Thaman Budha was not around, nor was the doco. Their luggage was strewn on the ground. Then he realised his personal bag in which he had his wallet, credit cards and his expensive camera were missing. Sophia was also nowhere around. Anderson started calling out his wife’s name hysterically, but no one was there to help him. Anderson was convinced that Thaman Buddha took off with his belongings and something horrible had happened to Sophia.
As Anderson was already familiar with the place, he walked ahead briskly for about half an hour and reached a local police station. He lodged a complaint against Thaman Budha for kidnapping his wife and stealing his valuable belongings.
A police team was immediately dispatched along with Anderson.
“Don’t worry, sir. He must have not gone very far. We will catch him. Moreover, I have already alerted all police stations in this region. Now he cannot escape. You will see he will be under our custody within a few hours,” said police inspector Dammber Bahadur confidently.
“I’m worried about my wife,” said Anderson hopelessly.
“I promise you Mr Anderson, very soon your wife will be with you and the culprit will be under our custody,” assured inspector Dammber Bahadur.
Inspector Dammber received a message on his wireless set that Thaman Budha was arrested.
“Mr Anderson, Thaman Budha has been arrested and we will be there within 20 minutes”, said the inspector triumphantly. And very soon they reached the place where Thaman Budha was under police custody.
Thaman Budha was then not fully conscious. Inspector Dipesh, in charge of the area police station, said, “He was with two persons. When they saw us, the two men ran away but he stood there. Fearing he might run away, we landed our stick on his leg and he fell unconscious. Now I realise that he was already injured badly. These injuries are not because of our beating”.
Inspector Dammber asked two policemen to accompany him to take Thaman Budha to the health post for treatment. When doctors saw Thaman Budha, they asked what happened to him.
“This man had brought a foreign lady for the treatment. Now she is better,” said the doctor and they showed Sophia’s bed. When Anderson saw Sophia, he held her against his chest and began crying like a child.
Sophia said that if she was alive it was only because of Thaman Budha.
“We had been hit by a powerful lightening. Thaman Budha took out the entire luggage from the doco and made space for me. For the safety of our money and valuable belongings, he put our bag in the doco as well. Without stopping for a moment, Thaman Budha brought me here. Had I been left there I would have been dead by now”.
In the meantime, Thaman Budha felt better and he spoke with Anderson, “Sir, I saw your condition was not as critical as madam’s. I could not carry both of you in one doco, which is why I decided to carry ma’am and I brought her to the health post. Then, I was taking two local men with me to bring you too but the police attacked us. However, I’m very glad to see you in good condition”.
“You see, sir. Thaman Budha has proved he is a real Gurkha: honest and brave” said inspector Dammber proudly. And the case against Thaman Budha was immediately dismissed.
Later, it was known that Anderson and his wife Sophia had visited Thaman Budha’s home village and helped him to start a new business in Libang, the district headquarters of Rolpa.