Tuberculosis, My New Friend and I

00_Cover_Tuberculosis, My New Friend and I

About 20 years ago, I travelled to the Chaurjahari Mission Hospital from my hometown in the Barekot Village Municipality, ward no. 8 of the Jajarkot district in Nepal, for my treatment. At that time, my life was hard due to my sickness.

I had lost a lot of weight and suffered from a continuous cough. Most of the time, I even coughed up blood. The health worker in charge of my village municipality told me that I was suffering from tuberculosis. Therefore, on his recommendation, I went to the ChaurJari Mission Hospital for treatment. After the examination, I was diagnosed with severe tuberculosis (TB) patient. The doctors told me I had to stay in the hospital for at least three months for treatment.

This news worried me considerably because I was alone in ChaurJari and there was nobody with me to help me. I was also worried about my family and children because I was supposed to return after a few days of treatment. At that time, there were no mobile phones or landlines for communication as there is today.

As I was thinking and walking, suddenly I approached a small cottage which looked like a tea shop. There I saw a man who seemed to be close to my age. He was preparing tea in one fire and chapattis in another. I thought that I would ask him about accommodation nearby. When I asked, he replied saying: “Here is the right place, because it’s also a hotel. Didn’t you see the sign hanging there?” He pointed to the board but I was unable to read it – I was completely illiterate.

He added: “Here you can have tea, snacks, and food and there is my home, where you can stay“, and he pointed towards his home which was made of wood and stones. I was very happy because I had found a place to stay but still I had one problem – a problem with money because I only had enough money to stay in Chaurjahari for a few days.  So I had to tell the hotel owner about my problem. When I explained everything, he said it would be no problem: “You can pay before you leave.” I was very grateful for this offer. The hotel owner took me to his home and gave me a small room, on the first floor with a small window, which would be my home for a while.

After only three days of staying in the hotel, I began to get very close to the owner of the hotel. I told him everything about me, my family and also about my problems. Slowly, the hotel owner also became friendly towards me and started to share his problems. He was a very frank and helpful man. Like me, he is married with three children. Day by day, we became closer.

Why? Because he not only helped me by providing food and shelter at his hotel but also because he assisted me with my medicine. He frequently reminded me to take my medicine, and he also took care that the dosage that I took was correct. Furthermore, he helped me at the hospital where I was being treated because he was familiar with the hospital. I was so happy to have found this man who soon became a close friend.

But I didn’t know why he liked me so much and why he was so helpful. And these questions were running through my mind …

One day I asked him why he was helping me so much. In response, he said that he was like this with everybody. He helps anyone and everyone who comes to his hotel because he feels that this is his duty. He added that he also has a duty to behave in a humane and hospitable way. However, he continued:

But I don’t know why I find you to be such a very special and good human being. When I see you, my heart automatically wants to help you. I guess your lean and thin body, your health problem and loneliness might be the reason.

He said with a smile on his face. Later, I found out that he was also a recovered TB patient and that must have been why he treated me in the way he did and reminded me when and how to take my medicine.

The days passed and our friendship grew deeper and deeper. We spent a lot of time together, talking and sharing many things.

One day, unknowingly, I asked him his name. This seems to be a very tiny thing to ask someone but in our case, it happened very late. In reply, he told me his name, and it is Dhan Bahadur Singh. Now I was totally surprised because my name is also Dhan Bahadur but I have a different surname –  Khatri. When he asked me my name, he was also surprised to hear that we shared the same name. At that time in Nepal, if two friends become very close, if they have a common name, thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes, then there was a tradition to become “Mit” i.e. soul friends.

Immediately this idea came into my mind and I suggested to that we become soul friends. In Nepal, basically in the Hindu religion, after people become soul friends, they become at the same time family members – they are believed to have a blood relation and they should help each other in every difficult situation in life but also share their happiness. They have to attend or participate in all of the other’s cultural and traditional occasions, such as funerals, weddings, etc.

In order to fulfill this desire to become soul friends, we had to do many things to complete this process of relationship. The cultures, traditions, and activities that we took part in to become soul friends are very interesting to know. The events that happened and the memories that we made are even more amazing. You will discover more about all these things in the next part of this series, which will follow shortly.


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00_Cover_Tuberculosis, My New Friend and I 00_Cover_Tuberculosis, My New Friend and I Elisa Steininger CC BY-SA 4.0