LONDON: Harka turns the page of his treasured family photo album and pauses at a picture of the children he may never see again.
They’re grown-up now, living back home in a poor rural area in western Nepal, along with Harka’s wife and family. It’s a world away from the one-roomed bedsit Harka rents in London’s Plumstead.
He closes the album softly and glances out of the window. If his grizzled hands hint at the hardships of active service as a Gurkha in the service of the British army, the eyes of this 75-year-old former warrior are still focused on the fight ahead.
Harka Bahadur Thapa Magar arrived in London, alone and with hardly a word of English, two and-a-half years ago. After the British government changed the rules granting former Gurkhas the right to permanent residency, he faced an agonising decision: Stay in Nepal, or come to the country he so proudly served in search of a better life, better healthcare, greater opportunities for him and for his family.