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The medal that saved my life

Tulsidevi Danai holds up a battered medal bearing the likeness of King George VI. To her, it is the difference between life and death.

“This is my evidence for getting my Welfare Pension [from The Gurkha Welfare Trust],” she explains. Her husband, Rifleman Bakhansing Khatri, earned it for his service during the Second World War, fighting in the jungles of Burma.

“It was hard for them,” she says. “They didn’t have enough supplies. When he used to fill his water bottle in the jungle it was dirty and full of leeches. But they had no choice but to drink it. 

“He was taken prisoner by the Japanese soldiers. He told me that he and the other Gurkhas were surrounded and that, when their bullets ran out, they were captured. He was beaten at the prison camp and they had no food for days. 

“When he came back to Nepal after the war he was very ill. We married much later but I spent many years trying to heal his body and his mind.”

The couple went on to have three children together. Bakhansing lived as a subsistence farmer in his home district of Lamjung until he passed away in 1999.

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