Four-year-old Swastika Rai of Mai Municipality-8 in Kalkatte, Ilam is desperate to see her mother for a long time. There has not been a single day that she hasn't spent without missing her mother. She breaks into tears every time she looks at her mother's photo.
“Foba (grandfather), when will my mother come home?” she repeatedly asks her grandfather about her mother. But eighty-four-year-old Bardaman Rai has no answer for this. He bursts into tears when he sees his granddaughter crying.
“I know that my daughter-in-law is alive but that does not make us happy at all,” said Bardaman.
It has been about two years since Bardaman's daughter-in-law Manmaya disappeared, making their life a hell. His son had gone to Malaysia in search of employment four years ago and he didn't return home, Manmaya reportedly eloped with someone else. It would not have been a big issue if she had gone alone but she took her two sons and a daughter along with her.
She has also been accused of selling her three children in the temptation of earning money.
It was on May 11, 2015, that Manmaya dressed up in new clothes and told Bardaman that she is going to collect some money sent by her husband. When she didn't return back with her children till late night, family members started searching for them. After failing to find his grandchildren and daughter-in-law, Bardaman finally approached Mahamai-based police station on May 19 to file a complaint.
The complaint filed by family members states that Manmaya also took away Rs 56,995 sent by her husband Yam Bahadur for the whole family. Few days after leaving home, Manmaya had reportedly called her husband in Malaysia to inform him that she is getting married to someone else. Later, family members got to know that Manmaya had also sold her kids for the sake of money. Bardaman was heartbroken to hear that his grandchildren are compelled to live a miserable life in someone else's house. So, he immediately urged his neighbours to help him find his grandchildren.
With the co-operation of Maiti Nepal office in Pashupatinagar, the Rai family finally found the youngest daughter Swastika in a house in Kalikhola of Sikkim, India.
“We found out that Swastika was sold for Rs 4, 000 in India. So, we coordinated with the family to find her,” said Hom Dhakal, coordinator of Maiti Nepal. As informed by Bardaman, he had to pay Rs 4,000 to release his granddaughter.
“I don't know where my grandsons are but if they were with me I would have sent them to school and made them successful people,” said Bardaman.
Bardaman accuses police officials of negligence. “It's been a long time since we had filed a complaint with the police but they are still unable to find my grandsons,” he laments.
It has been four years since Yam Bahadur has not returned from Malaysia. Bardaman has been taking care of his granddaughter all alone. The swastika is currently studying in grade one at a local school.
As informed by Maiti Nepal coordinator Dhakal, they are trying their best to find out the other children. “We are sad that the children are compelled to live such a miserable life in such a tender age. But we will find them,” Dhakal said.