Translated from Nepali  by Ben Ayers
published by Porter's Progress, Nepal

About the Pain, Suffering, and Difficulty of a Porter's Life.
by Ganesh Bahadur Khatri

The days pass with so much suffering.
The snowy nights pass in so many caves.
With worry and pain in our hearts, we must walk.
Naked feet step uphill to cross rocky passes.

With loads like mountains on our backs, our hands place our sticks.
We carry uphill and downhill just to earn the hope of money.
How can a life submerged in debt escape here?
How can we forget the cries of our children?

On the edge of the trail, a fire burns from sticks and twigs.
The hot pan cries out - how good food tastes on the trail!
Our throats have swallowed our dhirdo and gundruk.
In ragged clothes our lives pass penniless.

With the monthly footsteps of debt, our houses and fields walk away.
The tears of this impoverished life have run together into a river.
When we can't fill our stomachs, we can't sleep at night.
Wandering, walking, searching for work without a single rupee
        in our hands.

Little ones from wealthy homes excel in school.
Sons and daughters from poor homes learn by carrying the doko.
A porter's life -- Nepal's future -- is falling every day.
Why do the foreigners, who love Nepal, oppress us all this way?

Load-Carrying Porter

by Bishnu Prasad Aryal

I am about to write a few words
In remembrance of trekking porters.
What is it like to be a porter?
Tell us about it.

Uphill and downhill, these high passes and meadows.
We porter to feed our children.
Us suffering porters -
No one cares for us!

We need a load on our backs

With the weight in the center of our heads.
Try carrying a load, foreign brothers!
See how it is for once!

Yes, the Himalayan wind is cold
And our hearts work hard -- what can we do?
They tell us to wear warm clothing, but we have none!
Who cares about the porters?

"Hurry, hurry! Always carry!" they always say.
Without portering, we have no work.
Always going uphill and downhill,
We are feeding our families!

by Santi B.K.

Even though my soul has been torn, here I am laughing.

Even though my very being is in fragments, I have somehow

As long as there is one drop of blood in my body,

Until life's last instant, I will always foster this love.

When I die I will be thinking of it -- my education. But now it is
            just a dream

That cannot become reality. If I was a flower, I would bloom,

But I cannot for all of the thorns.  If my love was for anything
           else I could forget it.

I cannot forget my desire to learn, and the road is covered in

How can I laugh with my heart so filled with a love for
          learning? How can I laugh?

These three poems are excerpted from the book two fists of breath: poetry by Nepali mountain porters. 

Copyright 2004 Porters' Progress