Tales from the Sidewalk by Nitu Ghale

Photo: Nitu Ghale

Tales from the Sidewalk: Janaki Devi Rajak, 28, is a pavement trader- she sells tops, socks and underwear on the sidewalk. She moved from Rautahat with her husband and three sons from the south-eastern district of Rautahat to find a better life for her family. When the Nepal government imposed a lockdown in late march to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic, Rajak’s sidewalk shop had to close down. She had a designated place in Langankhel, at a busy intersection, but now the local authorities chase shopkeepers away if they try to set up shop. “I am under so much financial and mental pressure,” Rajak says.

She has been trying to think of alternative ways of doing her business, so she has moved her shop to the inner streets but the business is not the same. She wakes up at 5 AM every day, carries her shop and finds a place to set up. Sometimes she waits all day and does not sell anything. Her husband used to work as a waste collector, but has also been out of work. “I have to support my family, I have to pay Rs 12,000 rent for the room, who will address my problem?” After four hours, at 9:30 AM a customer stops to buy a pair of socks. It costs Rs 100. Rajak touches the Rs. 100 bills to her head as a sign of respect and continues to wait for more customers.

Photo/text: Nitu Ghale @eastern_keen
Text Edit: Mallika Aryal @mikaness

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