A short tale of octogenarian businesswoman

-By Muna Khadgi

When one really starts to believe in oneself, things change for better.  This is a conclusion which can be drawn from the story of old Thuli Sunuwar Rai. Hailing from a remote village of Ramechhap district, she is 80-year old. As an old woman devoid of family members, Rai underwent severe challenges to eke out an existence. After the death of her husband, she was staying with her grandson in Kathmandu. But the only family member who had been taking care of Rai also passed away. “He suffered a heart attack and died. I spent whatever savings I had for his medical treatment, but to no avail,” she shares emotionally adding,” After this heart-wrenching incident, I went to Terai to forget the grief of losing my grandson.”     

Some ten years back, she returned from there and decided to do something to meet her daily needs. Then Rai did a borrowing Rs 400 to buy a handcart for starting a small business near the premises of Tudaldevi Temple in Baluwatar. It was all about making and selling eating items like Alu Paratha and tea. Fortunately, during the first two days of starting the venture, she earned literally a handsome amount.  In fact, she was not only able to repay the loan but also save some money within such a short time span.   “I, indeed, did brisk business because of the overwhelmingly big sale volume of especially Alu Paratha,” she reveals in a rather upbeat tone.

Thuli Sunuwar Rai cooking paratha

When asked about the main reason behind this seemingly astounding business performance, she replies,” Perhaps, they (customers) greatly like Alu Paratha made by me,” adding,” I  use quality raw materials while preparing this particular item so that the customers get an authentic and homely taste.”   It seems it is a prime reason why a large number of customers visiting the place of this old businesswoman. One really witnesses a unique combination of people of different socio-economic strata relishing Alu Paratha around the handcart of Rai, known locally as Aama.

 More importantly, they tend to come here again and again.  She divulges that the daily sales figure of her business averages Rs 1,500.

Prior to starting the handcart business, she had dabbled in two different businesses-one was operating fruit store and the other was operating a small restaurant. But both of them failed because of the lack of cooperation from her children. But now she is assisted by a person named Narayan to smoothly handle her daily operations. “He comes every day from 6 AM to 9 AM to help me in making Alu Paratha and tea.  Because of his proactive support, I have been able to deliver efficient services to my customers”

When asked about any particular problem hampering her business, she quickly pinpoints the pile-up of garbage near her handcart. 

She is even apprehensive she might lose her customers if this problem persists. “I will be grateful if the people stop disposing of litters here.”

According to Thuli Sunuwar Rai, if this happens, my people can enjoy pure and delicious foods in a clean and healthy ambience.  This shows clearly this octogenarian businesswoman is truly dedicated to her customers.  

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