Paddling to success

Usha Drukpa

A fall from the staircase while on duty rendered 47-year-old Mani Kumar Rai crippled from the waist below, nonetheless he today works in his factory, Penden Cement Authority Limited (PCAL), like any other normal employee. The only difference is that Mani Kumar is not a regular employee.

Reminiscing of his earlier days when he was an able-bodied man, Mani Kumar says that he has been working in PCAL for the past 17 years in the packaging department. However, he has not been regularized till date because of his inability to walk.

“Life has been very unfair to me. But I have children to take care of as I am the sole bread earner in my family. This motivates me to never give up,” Mani Kumar says, adding that he would be the happiest person if the management at PCAL regularizes him as a permanent employee.

Mani Kumar adds that ever since he joined the company in 1999 he has never failed in his duties, and that the management had been considerate enough to let him continue with his job.

Today Mani Kumar earns a net salary of Nu 6000 a month for carrying sacks in the packaging department. He slipped from the staircase, while on duty, one fateful day that rendered him crippled. Life has never been the same ever since.

“I am very much thankful to PCAL for letting me to continue with my duties after the accident, though I am not a regular employee. My only prayer is that the management look at my apathy and regularize me so that I can help raise my family in a better way,” said Mani Kumar.

Nonetheless, Mani Kumar’s life changed for better when the hospital authorities in Gomtu provided him with a wheel chair. Today, Mani Kumar moves around with the help of his wheel chair, paddled by his arms, and is never late for his duties.

“I have two small kids to take care of so I cannot afford to rest because I am a cripple. I have to challenge myself and test myself to the extremes because my family would suffer if I don’t work,” Mani Kumar says, adding that he is most worried if the management at PCAL was to fire him from his job.

A teary eyed Mani Kumar says that he forgot his disability when it came to discharging his duties. In fact he works like any other employee if not better. “I hope the management will be considerate enough to look at my plight and not fire me from the job. I will have nowhere to go then,” he added fighting back tears.

Mani Kumar also shares how difficult life has become for him after he felt from the staircase. He takes the entire day to reach his ancestral home at Dumsidara which otherwise is a four-hour journey for others.

“I will also not be able to farm back in my village if I were to loose my job as farming is a strenuous job. My wife and children will suffer too,” Mani Kumar says, adding that his entire livelihood depended on his working at PCAL.

It is a quarter past five and the siren rings at the factory site calling it a day. Pushing his wheelchair and heading home is 47-year-old Mani Kumar who wears a smile despite a hard day’s labour.

He is a cripple yet he works hard and dreams of him being regularized as a fulltime employee of PCAL. Life never ceases to grow for Mani Kumar.

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