Relationship in Progress: Absent Gurkhas and Their Proud but Disconnected Children
Written by Sanjay SHARMA, Bhawana LIMBU, and Seema SHRESTHA
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The Gurkhas, who hail from Nepal and serve in the British Army, are considered one of the world’s fiercest soldiers. Being transnational military migrants, they are away from their homes for extended periods, and as a result, they are physically and emotionally absent from their children’s lives. Separation from loved ones is never easy; and transnational life is emotionally draining no matter how tough and brave the Gurkha soldiers are. Nevertheless, the children of Gurkhas hold their fathers in high regard for their sacrifices and for bringing them to the UK, thus, opening them up to scores of opportunities. However, they find it considerably challenging to live together with their otherwise absent fathers under the same roof. Consequently, many Gurkhas and their children have a detached relationship and have become estranged. Meanwhile, some have reconnected and fought to rekindle and rebuild their relationships after coming to the UK. In the process of rediscovering, some children also recognize the emotional side of their fathers whom they earlier thought to be introverted and cold.
Keywords: fatherhood, Gurkha, transnational families, military migration, emotions
Sanjay SHARMA holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the National University of Singapore. His doctoral research examines the gendered migration experiences of women from transnational military families. He focuses on the British Gurkhas.
Bhawana LIMBU has been working in healthcare, including disability and mental health, for more than 13 years, with experience working in the UK, Australia, and Nepal.
Seema SHRESTHA is a mental health practitioner who has more than six years of experience in the field. She is currently based in the UK.