Nirmala !

If I were a priest, I’d pray to the gods
For they seem only to listen to men
Who banter and applaud
Cheap nudity.
Manly gusto.
Tore up labia.
Bloodied justice.

I lament! I lament-
Birth. Caste. Boobs. Country
I am –
In mercy from wedding makers
In anguish from son seekers
In between dicks and dishes
Under duress, naked esteem.

If I were a priest, I’d pray to the gods
To give birth to men
Who love strangers as much as they love themselves.

Why I Will Not Sign Any Petitions against the Indian Blockade

As proud as a Nepali can be, I refuse to sign any internet petitions against the Indian Blockade. This may seem contrary to what now passes as a patriot, the sheer anti-India conception. One need not be against Indian governments (past and present) to be a patriot, one simply needs to be a true self of what one believes in, for identity is acquired not ascribed.

Nepalese people have been known for two things: Laughter and Guts. Laughter is our meaning to life while Guts provides the fuel necessary for such a mirth. I don’t believe in opening up the transit points because it will make us ultra-dependent on India once again. Yes, the blockade is illegal but it is also revelatory to Nepalese consciousness. In the name of helping its neighbors, Indian governments have offered loans, bi-lateral agreements, investments, multi-million projects to Nepal, and shamefully, we have accepted it as a token of goodwill since Day 1 (First Five Year Plan, 1956). One thing that I have come to observe is that International politics is never about politics, it is always economic in nature, protecting one’s investments through any means necessary; corruption, nepotism, destruction of local businesses, dependence on third parties, direct/indirect political interference among others, which we are well acquainted with.

Look what we have to show for ourselves!  Lofty stories of Gurkha Regiments and a melting Mt. Everest. A mere 5.1% of GDP and $2400 for GDP per capita (CIA World Fact Book, 2014) and other low, insipid data and charts representing bleakness of our plight.

Once the blockade is undone, we are going to be back on the same path. One shouldn’t care about what India speaks and interprets but what we as a nation stand for. When I thought about Nepal it was a hopeless case of unity. I thought we are never going to be a united country, having more than a hundred of ethnic groups and 123 languages spoken (CBS, 2011), without an element that could unify, we were a doomed nation. One can argue that anti-Indian sentiments are unifying elements but what commences from hate never bodes well. One should plainly refute it on the grounds of propriety. Then a miracle happened, Earthquake! Which symbolizes the path that we should tread on. The destruction of past faults to create new. Never had Nepal been so unified as a nation. The spirit still lingers.

Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization (LPG) were initiated through multiparty democracy in Nepal in the 90’s. It opened up a wide range of possibilities for business in Nepal but us imbeciles, let it go the Indian way. We are a flop on this matter. But why? Is it because the Indian governments were shrewd in diplomacy or is it our own misdoings. Let’s look at ourselves from head to toe, what have we for ourselves. And this blockade, it’s a sign of fresh constitution, a fresh start for us. Why should we go back on Indian dependence now. Yes, it’s harsh but Rome wasn’t built in a day either. Let it be known to the world that we can sustain ourselves, which of course, without a shred of doubt we can.  Also, let’s make some logical amendments on our constitution that truly addresses the Madhesh issues. It is in certes, an injustice to them for they have some valid demands and some are allegedly Indian demands. With more than 50% of our population residing in Terai of which 22% are identified as Madheshis (Both indigenous and immigrants from India), it is imperative that amendments to facilitate equity based policies should speed up before the demarcation comes into practice. Since 2006, Distributive justice has been the basis on which people’s participation is facilitated, it should be continued till equality is achieved.

So how do we achieve equality in an underdeveloped country which is pervasively dependent on India for its economic and political development? Through China? No! Another cycle of dependency will ensue. We need to take this blockade by its throat and do what every developed countries in the world has rudimentarily done, let the means of production be local.

Let’s be gutsy and let’s smile on the face of despair like our ancestors were known for.

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Photo Source: Kathmandu Cycle City 2020

Jai Nepal!

The Masochist Men & Sycophantic Women

Chapter One

Through a common friend of Goloman, a chance meeting happened with a rather eccentric social circle who indulged themselves in discoursing and philosophising about the nature of their thoughts and nothing more.  Goloman who himself had his idiosyncrasies and was somewhat considered a peculiar little fellow by his compatriots, divested himself from the natural, abhorrent social circle of men and now he was gleeful that he had found in this world what he thought were extinct, a congregation of enlightened men and women.  This flock of capricious people appealed to his very soul. What more, they accepted Goloman as their own.

They met, ate, conversed and dispersed. They were ordinary people with extraordinary ambitions. It was apparent at the onset, to Goloman, that, they were never going to attain anything in life except what was ordinarily achieved. Goloman, who was a pseudo recluse, had met his perfect social circle. It consisted of masochistic men and sycophantic women.  They went late to bed, woke up early in the morning for their office, spent a dull day at work and then met at Café Devkota,  conversed fancifully and whimsically, engaged themselves in a vehement and rueful discussions at times, paid their bills and went home to watch the 8 PM news.  This was too good to be true for Goloman.

There were about a dozen of them but most of them managed to squeeze past the rush to manage a meet with their fellow anomalous characters. Within short amount of time Goloman was already on the pulpit and his influence burgeoned with time. It was apparent that he had begun to be a no match for anyone which owed much of it to him being a recluse. He wasn’t a typical loner for; he liked the company of people very much. In fact, he was always among people of all sorts, loquacious men, quiet women, fervent grandfathers, wayward children. He gratified himself in company of people but ironically he was very much a recluse.  It was so because he rarely conversed with anyone but himself. He observed it all and took such frivolous part of life to his heart.  He’d read Blake by the age of fifteen and by adolescence, he had already completed Sartre.  It is rare nowadays to find people who read, especially people who are autodidact and willing to go lengths to comprehend even a speck of knowledge. We are all mortals living together to act impishly in our own ways. Some read, some coy, some go distance to be normal while some are just born from Gogol’s bosom. Goloman was one of those, who knew the meaning of all this stupidity was merely to exist and procreate.  Now, he was here, a prominent member of this social circle.

One day, Goloman had arrived much earlier to the café and sat there in his usual temperance. Reading the newspaper and drinking coffee, concentrated, yielding sweet delight, he sat cross-legged in a regular chair and while the table was recently furbished ebony dark. He knew he should have to wait for his comrades for more than an hour and he waited callously. He would wait without any restlessness and anxiety; such was his sober demeanour at such moments of time. He assumed an air, like, he owned the very place. His companions, time and again acknowledged such manifestations that exuded from him.  Much more of this yielded in him being revered.

He had just finished the front page when he noticed a woman was also sitting beside, in another table. It was littered, cigarettes left at odds and in ends, it was a mess, cups of coffee left astray and in the edge of this small, ebony, round table was a Dostoevsky, closed and placed upside down. By chance, their glances met and both of them assumed a faint smile, Goloman nodded naively as he ensued.

After a couple of minutes, the woman enquired, “Are you also waiting for Mr. Joshi?” Goloman thought she spoke like a nightingale. He had never heard a nightingale but he assumed such must be its tone.

“Err……yes……yes…..Care to join in?” he drawled.  She got up from her seat promptly, raised the book, nimbly came over, sat down and lit a cigarette.  “I’ve seen you here before, I also came here early for, I had nothing much to do”. Goloman let a grin.

“So, what do you do?” inquired Goloman and lit a cheap cigarette of his own.  The woman hastily drew a packet of cigarette from her sling bag and said, “Care to?”

“No, I like this, it’s hard”, he said, callously.

“Oh, I am sorry”, she giggled and added after a while, “Oh, I am a student of Psychology at the University of ____”.

He sighed, “Good…and what brings you here to this nook of Kathmandu”.

“Well, my rented apartment is just across the street, so one day, you know, I stumbled upon some of the guys here and ever since I manage a visit”, she smiled. She had a childlike air, her neck was going to and fro, she was fair looking and her dark long hair depicted her of a stereotypical non-conformist. Kathmandu is almost full of such apparitions.

The little waiter came over with an inquisitive glance. The woman said, “Bring me milk coffee, nanu”. The little nanu left nimbly as she had come. “She is sprightly, I tutor her sometimes”, said the woman. Goloman gave a slight nod and a faint smile; he was feeling despondent at this point. He had an idea of being alone. But what can one do when someone takes a fancy upon you, thought he. He was merely cloying along.

“What is your name?” he asked brusquely, just to be courteous, ironically.

She said, “I am Rita”, in her almost inaudible rejoinder.

Maybe she felt a little taken aback, felt a scrap of condensation. Who the devil cares, thought Goloman? As the moments ensued, he began his investigation with her.

“I often frequent this place, I am sorry but, this is the first time I have heard from you”, said Goloman apologetically. He was merely masquerading. He knew he was getting good at it.

“On the contrary, I have heard from you many times. I often wonder what brings you to your lofty conclusions. It’s almost paradoxical. I am very much beguiled”, said Rita, graciously. He almost blushed.

‘So, you are testing your academia upon me, I presume’

‘Let’s say you are not exactly inconspicuous’

‘Ought I to be?’

At that moment, the little nanu brought her coffee followed by a pup. Who knows what scent it follows, thought Goloman. But wagging its tail, it gently sat on his right foot and thus lounging, began licking and panting. On his part, Goloman indiscreetly kicked it. Rita noticed that he looked rather repelled at its presumed indolence. The pup lashed out immediately.

‘So, you don’t like dogs?’ she inquired rather slavishly so that he wouldn’t be offended.

‘Do you?’ he replied promptly and indifferently, reading his newspaper.

She replied sharply, ‘Who doesn’t like dogs? That too, a little puppy?’ She raised her brows and started, ‘Look, I am just saying, you know, I hope we are cool’, she concluded briskly. She thought Goloman was rather taken aback with his big pudgy eyes suddenly looking at her. He certainly was smirking.

‘Yes, we are cool. Why not, it’s not that I don’t like dogs but I am not in the mood to pamper one. Besides, there are number of things in my mind that make it detestable, right now’. He replied ardently.

After a while, addressing to the new acquaintance, he began, ‘What do you think about dogs?’ Now it was he, who had taken a little fancy upon her. He began frolicking with her and he began to ply his art.

‘I am kind of, an animal right activist….’. She beamed.

‘What are you, a vegan?’ he acrimoniously chimed in, still reading the paper.

‘As a matter of fact, I am. Why, don’t you think that we all are equal beneficiaries to this planet, that, we stand in equal footing with the animals, that they are like us and we are very much like them?’ she questioned timidly yet confidently. She tried hard not to show that she was even slightly intimidated at the moment.

‘Yes, I also think the same as you and we are all equal as we all are god’s own children. We share the same lofty ambition, that, we all have the inherent need to survive and compete. That, we all share the same indulgence, to love and be loved. That, we all share the same inhibitions, to evolve and continue to procreate’. Goloman let a grin as he looked at her and she also let a smile rather reluctantly.

He ensued, ‘Well, my new animal loving friend, I do have to add that like animals we also manifest our volitions in our behaviour but I ask you can we still argue that like humans, animals are also prone to conduct its behaviours out of fallacies and crossness. Do they also conduct themselves in the name of god and its numerous doctrines, do they even perceive god or are they even apt to recognize humanity. We, on our part, can identify with their vulnerabilities and act accordingly. But, these questions are mere manifestations of my main apprehension……….. Do we really stand on an equal terms when we as human beings are more indulged in loftiness, gluttony, lust and thousands of other habits pertaining to decadence. For we are intelligent than them, that you, my vegan friend, cannot take it away from me, and what do we do with our superior aptitude, we try purge each other as often as we fancy. We try to cleanse ourselves, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters and even their unborn children. We wallow in an unique filth of loftiness that even gods cannot match………My dear friend, how can we as humans be on equilibrium with gods other children when we outweigh them in terms of both love and hate.  We stand superior to them in all regards’, he concluded callously.

There was a brief silence. However, feeling unable, to be lashed out like that poor little pup, Rita said, dejectedly, ‘So, you are implying that, since we human being are superior in the matter of love and most essentially, we are superior at indulging in hatred, that, they are inferior to us. I find it a little vague, Mr. Goloman. But more than that, I think it speaks volumes about you rather than about the eminence of human beings’.

At this, Mr. Goloman reddened and he had an astute look, that of a man who had been ridiculed sternly. He immediately lamented what he had commenced, that fancy, he now knew he shouldn’t have acted capriciously. It was a frivolous attempt to sham his intellectual eminence to this little, pesky Madame.  Mr Goloman didn’t speak much. But when he spoke he would speak out of passion. He realized that he got ardent at the wrong time. She was a mere fancy he had taken to, but, it was the wrong time. There was no audience, he reflected.

‘Looks like you are quite the meticulous one’, he said calmly, looking directly at her eyes. ‘But, I can assure you that I am not quite as vain as you have assumed. However, at times one cannot help it’.

He didn’t feel that way but in order to avoid any fortuitous confrontation, he just spoke it. It was his reflex to subside any further altercation. Rita, for her part, was pleased at her opponent’s subjugation and at the same time she was confounded. She wanted to continue this tête-à-tête, but she resorted to feeling content. If only he could give it to me, she thought.

Mr. Goloman continued to read his paper. He already had finished reading the daily in the morning but he still read it nonetheless.  People with a sharp tongue usually get updated once in a while to adhere to the existing trends. They know repetition is the guaranteed formula to success. The least they do is masquerade. Most of them just want to look sharp and intelligent to others, it may be an argument for the sake of the argument but nonetheless they lust approval and applause. They want to be revered to, as some sort of cult personality. With their vast previous failures they know how to manipulate the crowd and be the witty and dazzling master of ceremony.  If they fail at it, they will think and rethink, will pander to their habitual series of monologue, listen to others meticulously and will again try, the next time. Such is their brutal vanity. Their nonchalance is just another masquerade but inside they will be burning for another opportune moment. And so was Mr. Goloman, at this time. How he wished he had an audience. How he wished to thrash this unwarranted visitor. He was piqued.

 

Chapter Two

He sat there, silent as the sky, as it is said, “like a calm before the storm”. A portentous one was soon to thunder at her head, he could feel it. He was feeding on it, the sensation. It consumed him like a filthy pond, laden with man eating planktons and guileful creatures ready to devour a victim. If he wanted then he surely would have blasted her off at this moment but he was patient. Silence engulfed the place for more time than Rita wanted but she knew well that Mr. Goloman was somewhat disconcerted. However, she didn’t have a hint what laid in his heart. She only wanted to acquaint herself with such a prominent member of this circle. She was as innocent as they come. Mr. Goloman was ready to pound on her innocence and what great gratification would it ensure; only he knew.

Mr. Joshi came in with his long black umbrella. Everything about him was long or huge. He wore a long overcoat which was exquisitely sewed by the famous New Road Tailoring which evinced his broad shoulders, tactfully, almost magnificent, only if he didn’t have a small face.  He wore a cravat which was black and one could assume it was a veritable silk and his moustache spoke of the times he had lived in. Men don’t don moustache today, it is uncannily considered despicable nowadays, to have a moustache and be clean shaven.  Sometimes time changes so fast that one keeps on pondering, what it would take to reverse it back?  Mr. Joshi was one of those nostalgic fellows who would forget about the present and tell tales from the days of yore.  He could go on for hours until of course; he would lose unconsciousness from inebriation. He was a regular. There was no craving for him, he just gulped impetuously. Drinking, for him was also on a grand scale. Everyone would be merry when he got drunk. He had a way with drunkenness, almost suave and uncouth at the same time.  Only Goloman, his comrade and dearest friend knew that he was always inebriated on ludicrous ideas and conjectures.

Mr. Joshi arrived quietly, sat down nonchalantly, and ordered an eggroll. He assumed a faint smile at them and started skimming through the papers which Goloman has just finished. There was a silence for some time again and Rita who was most affected with it started, “Looks like the strike has been concluded”. Both men simultaneously nodded their head as silence ensued for some time again.

Mr. Goloman gave a sigh, folded his hands and assumed a grim countenance merely looking at the tainted wall. Mr. Joshi began to read aloud, a poem from the Assorted Pickings section of the paper. It was poorly written one, but Goloman just knew he was bantering around.

 

I looked into my dish

And found a fried fish,

Poor little silver trout

Was no game for human bout.

I ate the little creature

The smell had me lure,

And filled my hungry need

Without a guilt`s creed.

 

There was a brisk laughter, Goloman sniggered the most. The little Nanu who had overhead the Joshi`s rhetoric oration shouted, with the puppy in her lap `wah-wah-wah` and chuckled. Rita also let out a giggle, looking at her. She asserted, “I don’t believe such literatures are even produced on the daily paper“. Mr. Goloman who had now read the paper two times, callously replied, “It can be produced, if the poem is written by a eight years old, I think we are going to read more from the little poet in the future“.

`Yes, the little poet is a genus, we need more of such literatures on our paper, otherwise its plain whining and consoling, what else have we been reading for the last twenty years, other than such nuisance“ added Joshi rather ardently.

`Look at the paper! It’s full of sadistic and morose news and ideas, it’s like we have no hope for the future. It’s blatantly appalling“ drawled Mr. Goloman, callously again.  He furrowed his brows. He spoke like he had already uttered the phrase more than a couple of times in his life.

“It`s a shame! It`s a shame! “ said Joshi despondently as he continued throwing his glances at the newspaper.   Rita kept her quiet. She was in her early twenties, yet full of hope. She knew it was hard to argue with these old hogs regarding the matter of progress. They had seen enough hypocrisy from society and the governments which were to deliver happiness to their fellow men. More than once, she had been harangued by such perturbed elderly citizens and she didn’t want to trail that path again with these men. She just wanted to have a good time and she constrained her impulse to exude optimism.  One is always judged from the ability to keep silence rather than from words that come out.

`So, what do you think, Rita? Tell us your opinion on the matter of progress with your youthfulness. Don’t tell me you are also exasperated like us silver-haired bureaucrats! ` He exclaimed.

“I don’t know what to think! I am almost somewhere between hope and despair Mr. Joshi”, replied Rita subtly.  It was almost true on her part. She just didn’t want to get harangued all over again by old folks. She was veteran when it came to silly, old, impulsive men. She was experienced when it came to diplomatic rejoinders. After all, she was a woman.

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kathmandu Patriot

He sat down sipping his coffee slowly. He liked coffee. Black coffee, no sugar, bitter and concentrated. It tasted like hell unleashed into your insipid body through a miniature cup. He sat there and drank it like it was the most delicious drink his mother could have made. It was made by someone from across the receptionist’s desk where the blinds in hues of red and green were opened through the middle and served.  Sitting next to him was Jean Paul Baalayar, assuming a gloomy and speculative countenance. He was smoking a cheap cigarette in his left hand while his head leaned against his right, the index finger noticeably pressing hard against his temple while one could detect the violent trembling of his arms, it seemed like he was shivering from the cold but it was a lazy late afternoon.

‘I don’t understand it. It’s killing me inside. I don’t like being judged’, whined Baalayar. His nosy voice made it more petulant.

‘It’s not for me to tell. But I tell you one thing. It’s about leaving their opinions out of your head. You don’t want to do the right thing and expect everyone to accept it. It’s part of us. Leave it alone’, said the man who was drinking coffee.

He was a fair looking person. He had a square face, snubbed nose, small goatee and his hair was done meticulously to the right and gave that mannish and poignant Italian air. The same demeanour that Italians have in the movies. Somewhere along the line between Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. He said that he was from South of Italy but had settled here in Kathmandu for some time. It was said that he had connections with people.   He never spoke much with people but he spoke fairly and wisely. That’s what many people in Kathmandu thought. It seemed like his stern appearance almost propped up his wisdom.  Living a life in Kathmandu as a foreigner was turning out to be very easy for him. Everyone was respectful towards him and everyone wanted to help him and talk with him. In turn, he was also very courteous towards others.  But, he knew well that it all amounted to the rumour that he had a load of green money. Anyways, he had fit right into the heart of greediness and self indulgence.

A waiter came and asked, ‘anything sir?’

‘Yes, I will have a creamy croissant and please fill in my coffee’, said the man as he elevated the china while his finger flitted and pointed towards it.

The waiter nodded, delivered a faint smile and went.  Baalayar observed a small mole on the waiter’s nose. He thought it was ugly and obscene. It was a small dint on his face but Baalayar who was indulged in self loathing noticed it. People with negativity tend to notice any ugliness in others anyways.

‘I wonder what would I do if I had such a mole on my face’, suddenly began Baalayar.

‘What would you do?’

‘Why, I’d do nothing. I think it looks just fine on that boy’. He smirked.

Baalayar upped his mouth and spiffed his clean shaven chin. ‘Yes, maybe’. He sighed.

Baalayar lit a cigarette and blew it through his beautiful Tinker bell nose. The thin, translucent, white smoke cleared promptly into the air.

He gaped for a while and said, ‘That kid made my heart heavy, you know. I haven’t reflected on my life at all. He’s just a six year old and he talks nonsense’.

‘I was also taken aback for a while but then you know kids these days, full of wisdom. It’s the way they are taught, I guess’, promptly replied, the man.  There was a poignant silence for a brief moment. Then swinging his head in disbelief, Baalayar said, ‘Maybe the kid is too smart. Some kids are natural. They pick up easy. But then where in this damned world does a six year old says I want to be a Chepang leader when I grow up? It’s not natural anywhere let alone in this country’.

The man threw a grin at Baalayar and nonchalantly replied, ‘Especially, when a country has been cursed by a Sati’, bantering. Both shared a good, old laugh.

Being historically marginalized, the Chepangs were socially and morally, the paupers of destiny. When the Maoist revolution had concluded, like other backward communities they could also have their say. It was a sour, politics and their auxiliaries, promising to uplift the society and yet not delivering. How could they when they had many mouths to feed. A political promise is always awe inspiring in its vigour and rhetorically crafted speeches. The two men had been to a school in rural Nepal run by a high school drop-out from the great nation of America, who thought it would be wise to teach children for free. He did it by making the parents contribute in labour instead of fees.  They dwelled in animal husbandry and agriculture within the premises of the school which was located on a foothill.  Baalayar and the man had visited it and since then Baalayar had been acting pathetically. He had an injured ego, like that of a fighting bull when it is defeated. He had been defeated by the unfaltering morals of the high school drop-out and the social consciousness of a six year old.  His whole life seemed a waste of ideals hauled by his narcissistic gains and hedonistic bearings. It was a fellow countryman steamrolling another by his persistence, originality and moralistic demeanours. Baalayar felt pathetic.

‘It seemed like paradise to me, what a beautiful place and what beautiful people!’ said the man. Now, savouring his croissant.

‘I don’t know if it was paradise but it sure wasn’t Kathmandu. Blood sucking, wretched and mean’, replied Baalayar, coldly in his strident voice. He was a exasperated and obnoxious patriot now, dwelling miserably in his own wound, his thoughts indulging at his lowly city life. He thought he could have done more for the country like the high school drop-out.  The man sensing Baalayar’s mental state, got up, asked for his leave, paid for his coffee and went away.

Baalayar then said to himself, ‘Looks like nobody wants to be with a person in self pity, let alone a patriotic sissy’.

A couple of days later, Baalayar was in a fashionable boîte, the crescendo ever growing, drinking a Heineken, shin digging with the man and fooling with a girl he had just met who was in stiletto heels, frolicking, advancing and promiscuous. It was a party organized for charity.

The high school dropout from America was already consigned to oblivion.

vs. The People

1

The town of N____ was a small and peculiar place. About seven miles from Kathmandu, the small town was nothing sort of lively or murky. It was peculiar place because nothing significant ever occurred there as the town lived in boredom, and as it was prone to happen, it lived very much in peace.  It was a small town with a bazar where people gathered every evening and like the town, basked in dull apparition of the descending fat old sun. The days trudged their way through the wrecked dreams of the people and the people were old, furrowed and grey. All their children had moved away in the pursuit of a modern life or to say, the western life, and only the middle aged and their old gaping fathers and grumpy mothers existed in this limbo. The bazar was the only place holding the people from insanity and the tediousness of life, as people amassed in the tea shops and taverns and gratified in each other’s company, amusing themselves, sallying their way through the lassitude of their daily life. The women were indulged in gossips, moping though time, and resenting for their blunt husbands while the men evinced their judgement through drunken brawls. The night usually ended in such a carousel that the boulevards were full of lamentation, remorse, rage, and vomit. But when the day commenced, it was all sluggish and lifeless. Like the town itself suffered from bipolar disorder.

It was a small town, about two hundred brick houses, pitched and slated rooftops, two storied with a mezzanine and mostly hueless or withered. The east nook consisted of wild copses and groves through which a deep muddy road passed and into the city. It was so much covered with mud that people trudged their way and slogged their belongings though this narrow field of bureaucratic misdemeanour in which the town whole heartedly gratified. The culture of silence weighed upon the travellers more than the gratified townsmen as they cursed and resented this filthy predicament unlike the hundreds of pigs wallowing in this festivity of filth. It was nothing extraordinary that all the pigs would come up every noon when the sun would be over the head and the little children, amused and overwhelmed, would join in as their dutiful errand and ramble into the groves, spirited and lively, bonding with some and fuming with others over some petty argument. Ah! Children, how true are they to the world, the only hallow entity of the world.

Goloman reached this small trivial town of N____, mid June when the monsoon finally relieved their fury over the region. It was  cold,  dripping and the breeze blew bland, just hours after a heavy rainfall. The town was laden with mud and ditches while everyone stayed inside their homes and a deserted swampy road lay ahead of him. He veered from his intention and turned left towards a hotel-inn and treaded towards its narrow doors as the slackening rain grew heavy. As he entered through the door he could smell the peculiar fusion of the floor and old belongings that were kept in the room which usually engulfs a traveller in Nepal. The sordid cotton curtains, the rickety furniture, the riveted gods, the elevated raw meats in rusty grills just above the stove, and the never ending boiling of tea, all combining to reek of this peculiar Nepalese smell inside this dimly lit melancholic room. There was a small archway towards the kitchen from where the innkeeper came and wiped the long chair though not dirty or wet and it was understood that Golomanwas to sit there. He sat there and put his belongings on the floor, a mere handbag, and ordered a glass of chhyang. The innkeeper nodded and went inside the kitchen and came instantly with a tainted red jar in one hand and a glass in the other, put the glass in the table which evinced its inner structure, worn out, and poured chhyang into the glass very prudently and slid it towards Goloman.  “Do you need anything ?” asked the innkeeper, Golomansaid, “No, thank you. But what’s the matter with him ?”, pointing his head and raising his both eyebrows towards the old man opposite to him, they were sharing the same table.

The man leaning with his arm against the wall sat there morosely and his another hand held a cheap cigarette which hadn’t been smoked for a while as can be assumed with the ashes piling up and suspended through the narrow filter. He was a stout looking man, sullen cheeks, dark circles made a semi arch above his eyes, unkempt dark hair with shades of grey. He was draped in hue of  black and blue striped woollen scarf while the blue old tweed coat made an impression that he was to be some government official. He sat there with his eyes closed and Golomanthought that he must have been crying a little while ago as there was a thin dark line in his cheek.  “Oh! He’s just from around the corner” replied the innkeeper. “Poor old man! bad luck seems to have taken a liking to him, it seems”. “Why,  what’s the matter?” asked Golomannonchalantly. The old man seemed not to care the stranger’s curiosity, maybe he was deeply engulfed in his own thoughts, ruminating fate. “ One should not test fate it seems, I am a poor man too, sir, but I don’t run around complaining my present, my life, if it’s an innkeepers life I should live then I have no sorrow. Not that I am happy with this petty business but I am not complaining, you know”, said the innkeeper. Golomanseemed to have lost his curiosity but still for the sake of being polite added, “Yes, Yes, we should not complain of our lives if we don’t have a solution else it’s just plain whining, nobody likes whiners”. The innkeeper now standing with a glass of chhyang of his own smiled at Goloman, a broad smile revealing his yellowish teeth. “It wasn’t a long ago this poor soul was a well respected man, sir. A government official at the forestry department, you see…..it’s all fate in the end, if we are to end up in the palace or in the ditch…at least the man has a bed to sleep” drawled the innkeeper, probably already more than tipsy. “You see my dear sir, he was struck by Blitzkrieg , as my old papa would have said, he served in the second great war, and I am proud to be a son of Gurkhali……he was wise,  my papa, he could have had it all, all the pain fate could afford, he was a true man, what are we nowadays! Just mere shadows of our fathers, only more lofty……..”

“It wasn’t a long ago this man right here, poor man, he was robbed……..robbed of his dignity, his right to stand up and act respectfully, at least masquerade such an act. But here is a man, my dear sir who has been robbed of what a man most desires…….a man may desire a beautiful wife, he may desire plump little children, small house to live in, a Ford or a Chevy, he may be obsessed about drinking exquisite whiskey or wine, he may even desire to keep a mistress for some fun, harmless, until one gets caught……but sir, you have to admit, no man desires more than being able to masquerade about his dignity”. The innkeeper stopped for some more chhyang, poured in carelessly and drank that fill in a hearty big gulp. He began, “…..so sir, this man obviously desiring…….but but sir”, he drawled and lit a cigarette for himself then began again, “ This man obviously yearning for respect made a common mistake that a man makes, that is to let one’s impulse loose, this may dear sir, was his mistake and that has now cost him one hundred and eighty one rupees in my humble tavern, ha-ha-ha-ha roared in the innkeeper. It was an allusion to the old man who apparently began to raise himself but faltered here and now. So, Goloman, after raising his chin and assuming a slight grin also raised his elbow for the old man to hold on to while the man tweaking and trudging, his trousers protruding, carelessly rummaged his pockets for the money and threw out a bundle of crumbled up hundreds and walked out through the narrow door. “Umm…..he seems generous today”, chimed in the innkeeper, apparently happy from his earnings for the time.

2

Goloman began to feel drowsy now and he wanted to put an end to the innkeepers gibberish rumblings for, he wanted to be left alone at least for a while. “So, this old man, what struck him you said, eh?” Goloman asked, sluggishly. The innkeeper was busy ironing the wrinkled notes and seemed not to care what Golomanwas interrogating about. He drew out a thick book form the bottom drawer of the cupboard, indiscriminately  opened the book and slid in the crumpled up hundreds. He was very meticulous in doing this that the way he pressed the both ends of the book after sliding each hundred into the book was almost with the same prudence and force. A kind of discretion was in his ways now and he nimbly stepped towards Golomanlit another inexpensive cigarette and began “Not long ago, the old man was a well respected officer of the forestry department. You know the kind, simple folk, simple ways desiring nothing much from his work but convenience, a hard worker in his own ranks yet timid and susceptible to the flaws of bureaucracy. I heard it was more than thirty years of service sir, that the old chap had done to for the forest around these hills, a undemanding soul certainly……..”. Golomanchimed in the innkeeper for another refill and he unhesitatingly brought a full jar of chhyang in the same tainted red jar. Discreetly poured the glass and continued, “………you see sir, the poor chap was living an ordinary life, peacefully in his home with his lovely wife and a son, who had been sent to a boarding school in the city when he was a child and later was able to acquire a job at a private firm, life couldn’t be more flawless, I’d like to add”.  Then the innkeeper began to talk about the boy, how he was, is character and flaws, how he’d risen up to the occasion one day and had bequeathed large sum of money to an old woman stranded by her children and how, one time he, in a drunken carousel had nearly broken another man’s neck with his beefy, sturdy hands. The innkeeper went on and on about the boy instead. He was drunk now and there was no stopping to his rumblings and annoying little tittle-tattles. No thought escapes from the mind of the drunk, like myriad of notions in a speck of light through a mindless thoroughfare, stirring, glistening, vibrant, blissful yet no direction home.

The smell of rain, rusty, oily and funny hovered inside the room for, the rain was heavy and laden with victory. The outburst of this sudden heavy rainfall made Goloman melancholic as he rubbed his forehead with his rigid fingers, eyebrows raised and a furrowed temple. The longer it rained the more he had to keep up with the fibbing drunk innkeeper. The soothing sound when the divine raindrops make while striking the earth, ditch, grass, dilapidated wall, slated and pitched roof, the hackneyed black umbrellas, the shuffling girls and pacing children, such mosaic of insipid and nimble sound, the drum indiscriminately played by nature pacified Golomanfrom the propositions his new friend was making.

The innkeeper was saying, “…..and the boy when he became a full grown man, moustached and prudent felt he had to enter into a wedlock and thus a girl from this very town was arranged”. Then growing solemn the innkeeper spoke boldly and pompously,

“But sir, I will tell you what I think of such marriage, I will tell you what I believe, I believe sir, I believe in what the Chinaman said about the inclination of society to marry off women in such a fashion, what do you think sir ?”,

“What about it”, replied Golomanangrily.

“That…that…arrange marriage is a social rape”, drawled the innkeeper.

“Maybe. I don’t think of it in such a way”, answered Golomanand lit his cigarette rather listlessly.  The innkeeper immediately and impulsively said, “But don’t you think it is a progressive idea”.

“I don’t care what those communists say. It’s all a web, a web of charming philosophy and rhetoric they weave upon us and what do they deliver? Huh. What have they delivered to us here. A decade of so called civil war, hostility, freedom from oppression. Oh yes, we were down trodden but not from zamindars, we were chained but not by nobility, we were wronged only by the silence that we adhered to, we were riveted into the wall of subjugation not because there is doctrines like Communism, Capitalism, Socialism, Hinduism, Absurdism or Asceticism engraved in our society like leeches sucking and draining us but I tell you that the latent doctrine of Fatalism chains us, oppresses us and consumes our very soul, exhausting us of our buoyancy and progress. And you tell me that that arrange marriage is a social rape! No my friend, it is the sadist attitude that is riveted in the very fabric of our society that rapes women and men alike, murders babies before they are born, guillotines the creative and dauntless few”, roared Golomanand thumping his fist into the table evinced his rage against the loathsome ways of the society he so much hated and feared.

The innkeeper was startled and grew timid at the paroxysm of vigour that absorbed Goloman. He saw Golomanbecoming red with hatred, his lightly tanned and fair countenance did little to conceal the vexation he felt against the hypocrisy that the society was procuring and breeding, like a vile organism itself, sucking, ravaging, draining the life of the host it was clung to. And like that men cling, embracing the masquerade, thriving under it, affectation based on crude familiarity with the existence of one’s soul. To Goloman, hedonistic dispositions would have been acceptable than such pretence of magnanimity.

“Religion has poisoned our country more than politicians ever could”, plainly added Goloman, contemplating after a while.

3

There was silence for a brief moment but for the innkeeper, timid and startled, silence was taking its toll until it became unbearable for him. He could hear the nimble and uniform drumming of his heart and feel the rush of blood through his nerves in his head. He looked at Goloman, he was solemn and looked dejected, still chafing his furrowed forehead with his coarse fingers and dilated nostrils. He was probably still vexed at the supercilious realm that society has become and it was mirrored in his countenance.

The innkeeper who just couldn’t keep up with the silence blurted out, “As I was saying sir, when the girl was arranged for….”, but before he could really begin, Golomanabruptly, with a condescending tone chimed in, “Let me tell you one story, you see, I have waited for some time now for you to finish your story but since you wouldn’t care to finish it, I’d like to tell you one when I was arriving at this insolently silly town with obnoxious people who mirthfully have accepted hypocrisy as their way of life and still you-you….”, he took a long breath and immediately realizing that was uncalled for, he felt ashamed, dropped his head and silence ensued.  This silence lasted for a long time, Golomanwas penitent of his impulsive nature, the innkeeper was ashamed of his unwarranted idealistic pretence, he knew in his heart that Golomanwas right and that it was hypocrisy and the whimsical nuisance was all that he could afford to provide along with the sour chhyang. Both assumed a grim, rueful and stern countenances but it was evident that nobody was going to yield up to the inconvenience each other had rendered.

“You say religion has poisoned our country, I think you are wrong, sir…..I may be just an innkeeper and you may be a learned man but your education seems a bit unruly, it may sound progressive but religion provides a moralistic perspective to people and consequently keeps them sane from the hypocrisy you are suggesting”, said the innkeeper quavering yet it was obvious that he wanted to prove that he wouldn’t succumb to insult from anybody. Pride! the evil within oneself.

It was no surprise that Golomanfelt denigrated and so was the innkeepers intention even though there were only two of them in the entire room.  Golomanassuming a grin in his face derided the innkeeper, “You my friend prove me right. Hypocrisy at the finest…….Didn’t you say earlier that arrange marriage is a social rape? And you believed in it and here you are asserting like an idiot that I am wrong. You support the reds when they say equality is inherent and crucial and you suddenly turn into a communist, an ideologist, conformist, a radical rebel and all that hypocritical lamb you can be but then they say ‘religion is opium of the people, the abolition of religion as illusionary happiness of the people is the demand of real happiness’, you don’t like it, you loathe it, why, why do you despise it so much so that it pollutes your soul? I ask you. Such a society that will not even pursue an ideology in absolute and what more, it reeks, that smell of duplicity, napalm, the stench of fickle mindedness. Rejecting the ideology that very much is near to perfection, the most wonderful ideal that man ever imagined, Communism, has to be compromised, it has to be made flexible to the needs of the time we say. What time is it? It’s time for hypocrisy, it’s time for people all alike, citizens and politicians to masquerade the denigration of an ideal. It is time for us as a society to alter the very nature of an ideal and follow a new doctrine, hypocrisy. A society guided from the love of god is the society most inhumane. Morals are essential but we shouldn’t forget that they are intrinsic to all humans and religion is not required to exert morals. It is but the complete pursuit of idealism that guarantees it. What fallacy we are living in!”

To be continued…..