Som Bahadur Shrestha
Som Bahadur Shrestha
“His roommates discovered that he had died in his sleep”
Four years ago, Som Bahadur Shrestha started to work as a security guard. – Since then, he did not take a single day off and was never back home, says his daughter Sangita Shrestha. They were planning for his homecoming when they found out he had died in his sleep. – The day before he died, he was shopping for his son's birthday, he bought a watch for our mother and shoes for my brother. When the body arrived at the airport together with the father's belongings, all the presents were gone. – We have tried to contact his employer, but now we have given up, says the daughter.
Told to the journalistic platform Blankspot
Four years ago, Som Bahadur Shrestha left his village in Nepal to work as a security guard in Qatar.
“Since then, he hasn’t taken a single vacation day and never came home for a visit,” says Sangita Shrestha, his daughter.
When he was finally going to take a hard-earned vacation, Covid-19 hit the world and he was stuck in Qatar even though he had permission to leave. He got Covid, but recovered. And then he died.
“His roommates discovered that he had died in his sleep.”
The family was dependent on the money sent home from Qatar, and are now without income.
“My mother was five-months pregnant when my father left, but he traveled to Qatar out of love to the son he would never meet,” Sangita says. “He left so we would have a future.”
When Som called, he always talked about the son he had never hugged.
“He had bought a lot of gifts for all of us,” Sangita says. “The day before he died, he told us about the watch he had bought for our mother and the shoes for my brother.”
When the body and belongings arrived at the local airport, all the gifts were gone.
“The only thing left was his cellphone.”
Som Bahadur Shrestha was in Qatar for so long without a break, also because he had taken out a loan so that the oldest child could travel abroad and the youngest daughter could study.
The family begged him to come home, but Som was afraid he would return to a locked down Nepal and be without a job.
“When he died, we learned that he had not renewed his work visa and then no compensation is paid out, not his overtime, bonus or last pay check,” Sangita says. “Renewing the visa could have been done digitally, but my father probably didn’t know that. We only got $820 from his employer. They cheated him.”
Because Som was the main breadwinner, times are difficult for the family.
“We are mourning him, but we are also angry that he won’t receive more compensation,” Sangita says. “The Nepali authorities say we can only get $205 but we haven’t seen any of that either. We have tried to get in touch with his employer but we finally gave up.”
Som’s mother bursts into tears as soon as his name is brought up.
“It’s impossible to console her. We all miss my father so much,” Sangita says.