KATHMANDU, Jan 11: The pay was not attractive but Rewant Khadka, 25, never had any complaints about his job. However, the dip in temperature over the last four days has suddenly made Khadaka´s job as a newspaper hawker difficult. It has become extremely difficult for Khadka to get ready by 4.30 am in the morning.
“I have been a newspaper hawker for the past eight years and this is the first time the chill has left me so worried,” said Khadka who stays at Handigaun and distributes newspapers in Sukedhara area.
“I set out for work at 4.30 and I ride my cycle as fast as I can so that my body gets heated. But my hands and feet almost freeze while my head begins to sweat.”
The constant dip in temperature for the last few days has troubled Badri Pun, a night-time security guard at Cruise Aids in Baluwatar, no less. The female turned male transgender has been working as a security guard for the past eight years and this is the first time he has literally been having sleepless nights, he said.
“My duty starts at 5pm. I seriously keep a vigil till 12 pm and then go up to sleep in the office room. Since one blanket was not enough I recently bought another double bed blanket, but even that is not helping me keep warm,” Pun said. According to him, there was a similar winter some seven years ago. But even then, a single blanket, which he has been using even now, sufficed. Moreover, he did not notice white frost in the window panes during previous winters.
“This winter I am wearing two high necks, two jackets, two pair of socks and almost everything in pair to fight the cold. This is the worst part of our job that you have to stand in the cold no matter how cold it is,” Pun said.
Both Khadka and Pun fear that they would not be able to keep going if the temperature further dips. While Khadka, being himself a newspaper hawker is well aware of the temperature dipping to below the freezing point, is apprehensive that the weather might turn worse, Pun, 35, says people would begin to die in the Valley if weather conditions do not improve.
“We are poor people and can´t afford luxuries,” said Pun. “I wish I could sleep early and wake up late like other rich people do at least during cold days,” he added.
Students who have to get ready for schools and colleges fare no better. Talking to Republica, 20-year-old Aashish Karna of Kantipur Engineering College said, “It is very cold nowadays and the worst part is we have to wake up so early in the morning and get ready for college.”