A smallish man in army boots carrying an army bag walks around Thimphu with a bunch of newspapers. The 75-year-old is Harka Dhan Rai from Samtse.
Harka call himself a free man. He has nobody to look after, no one to be bothered about. His wife died 30 years ago. He never married again.
His day begins early. By five O’clock, Harka has tea and breakfast ready in his small hut near Buddha Point in Thimphu.
Harka has been selling papers for the last five years. His grubby bag is filled with newspapers and he goes from door to door to sell them. Rain or shine, nothing bothers Harka. He quietly goes about his business.
“Who will employ me at this age? Selling newspapers is how I earn my living,” says Harka, bleary-eyed and hunched under a tattered umbrella. Summer heat is searing.
On a good day, Harka sells more than a hundred newspapers and makes no less than Nu 4,500 a month. “I will continue to do this to the last day of my life,” says Harka.
At five in the evening, with only a few copies of newspapers in his hand, he waddles off towards his hut. He is done for the day. He gives the remaining papers to taxi drivers, who give him a free ride home.
By Kamal Tamang
Paro College of Education