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Page last updated at 10:48 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 11:48 UK

Wife number 25 brings contentment

By Surendra Phuyal
BBC News, Kathmandu

Mr Katuwal and his latest wife, Sharada
Many of Mr Katuwal's previous wives walked out on him

After 24 failed marriages, a 49-year-old porter in eastern Nepal says that he has finally found happiness in his latest union.

The simple reason is that the landless labourer's latest marriage seems to be working out, unlike the previous ones.

Ramchandra Katuwal, of Khandbari municipality in Sankhuwasava, and his wife recently celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary.

He say that his marriage to Sharada has been a "journey of happiness".

Disastrous marriage

And for Mr Katuwal, the trek before his latest journey was paved with pitfalls and potholes.

He first got married when aged 26 at his home about 600km (373 miles) east of the capital, Kathmandu.

From then onwards his life veered from one disastrous marriage to another.

Ramchandra Katuwal
A house is not a house without a wife
Ramchandra Katuwal

His first wife set a precedent followed by many of her successors: she eloped with her lover.

"My second wife also ran away," he said, "and the third one too.

From the succession of wives who came and went over a 16-year period, Mr Katuwal says that he can only remember nine of them clearly.

"(Like other ex-wives) the 24th one also ran away. And I decided not to marry again," he said.

But his resolve did not last and he wed 23-year-old Sharada seven years ago.

Mr Katuwal says that he is now so happy he has vowed not to marry again. Instead, he wants to focus on his children's education.

They go to a nearby primary school, one of them on a Belgian-funded scholarship.

Slim, sturdy-looking and wrinkled, Mr Katuwal struggles to make ends meet.

Even his small thatched-roofed house is built on a government-owned land. He says that the constant battle against poverty could well be why so many of his wives left him.

Mr Katuwal's work as a porter is a tough job for low pay.

Porters in the Himalayan country are renowned for their strength - often carrying loads of more than 45kg for many miles in the mountainous terrain.

So despite the repeated failures, why did he decide to marry again?

"I wanted to have a wife, because a house is not house without a wife," he said.




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