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Dilmaya Sunar obituary: The singer who found peace only in death

Pratik Ghimire

Pratik Ghimire

Dilmaya Sunar obituary: The singer who found peace only in death

Sunar rekindled her childhood passion for singing when—encouraged by her neighbors—she began performing at Dohori restaurants and shows

Birth: 19 Nov 1992, Surkhet
Death: 25 June 2022, Kathmandu

Dilmaya Sunar, a budding Dohori (Nepali traditional folk music genre) singer, died aged 30 on June 25.

Born the second child of the three daughters to her parents, Sunar spent her childhood in a village in Surkhet district tending to the cattle and helping her folks with household chores. She was musically gifted and used to entertain friends with her singing whenever they went to the forest to graze their cattle. But never did Sunar think of being a professional singer.

She was just 13 when her parents married her off against her will. The marriage was full of troubles. Sunar’s husband abused and tortured her no end, but she felt helpless and continued to live with him. The couple had a son and it was upon Sunar to look after the family. She ran a small grocery shop and what little money she made, her husband, a serial gambler, spent most of it.

When Sunar’s family fell into debt due to her husband’s gambling problem, it once again fell on her to settle the loans. She went to Kuwait to work and made enough money to clear the debt as well as build a house in Nepalgunj.

When Sunar returned home after two years, she had hoped her husband would have cleaned up his act by the time. He hadn’t and the couple started falling out again.

Sunar filed for a divorce in 2016 and got herself out of the abusive marriage. Her son chose to stay with his father. She would later find out that her ex-husband had remarried and that he had been abusing her son.

Distraught, Sunar wanted to reunite with her son, but that never happened. Her relationship with her own parents was also failing on the account of her being a divorcee. Once again, she decided to work abroad—only this time, to find her independence.

Sunar worked in Oman for a year and returned to Kathmandu in 2018. She rekindled her childhood passion for singing when—encouraged by her neighbors—she began performing at Dohori restaurants and shows. Sunar began pursuing a musical career in earnest after recording a few original songs that were loved by her listeners.

She seemed to be doing well in life and even found her love in a man named Khil Bahadur Shrestha.

But trouble and tragedy never quite left Sunar until her death. She was heart-broken when she discovered that Shrestha had lied to her about his earlier marriage.

On June 25, she was found dead in her rented room. Autopsy ruled her death as a suicide-by-hanging.

Sunar had also tried to kill herself following an argument with Shrestha, three months prior to her actual death, police investigation later revealed.