The Lyrical Age

Chapter One

“Mani, wake up, how long do you think you can sleep.”

God! Why’s this piggy in room?

“He’s still sleeping?”

Shit! This old man’s also here.

“Does he ever get up early?”

Why can’t this blacky keep his mouth shut. Why these people have to start their day ticking off me. Why don’t they sometimes let me sleep a little while. Every day I have to wake up early to catch the school bus, today’s a Saturday, why not let me sleep little longer.

“Prakiti, give him a jolt.”

Whatever, I won’t get up. What kind of sister she is, a real insolent one. How absurd she looks in her meaty structure. And brother, a sadist devil, neither lets me to go to bed early nor allows sleeping until day break. Why am I always discriminated here, why can’t they move on without tormenting me. All the seven days in a row my day starts this way, they rush into my room noisily and disturb my good night rest. I know, I’ve to go to school, I’m completely aware about my duties and responsibilities, why does it bother them when I sleep longer. I know my studies, how to work through it, but still they interfere in my daily activities. Do they still consider me a child, am I too small for them to govern. I’m aware that I must leave the bed at 5. It doesn’t mean if they don’t knock my door I won’t wake up for school. Do they think, until they don’t remind me of my books, I won’t study. The fools they are. Its a holiday, but they are here, wanting me to leave the bed. Do I have to always play by their rules? Why are they doing this to me? Err…what the heck is this?

“Pravin, what the hell you are doing? Can’t you allow me to sleep little longer when its a Saturday?”

“Have you ever got up early even in your week days? Here’s your tea.”

And finally the old lady makes the gang complete. Everyone says the youngest child is most admired but here I am, tortured dawn to dusk. Sometimes I wish to just bunk my first lecture, but they don’t let me sleep past 5. To get rid of their mistreatment, I usually walk out of the house in the morning, to them its school but I’m off to elsewhere. Some days I’m late from school, and here they go with questions.

This morning when I want to remain in bed in a delightful languor, every attempt of mine goes vain. Okay let me try again. Anyways, I have to stick to bed.

“Yesterday evening I went to sleep very late.”

“Were you doing anything good? Just watching a movie? Useless fellow, good for nothing.”

Watching a movie is that a big deal. This guy doesn’t let me go for outing or recreations or hang with boys or go to theatres. What am I to entertain myself with? He says this is not the right time to spend with merry making, and you’ve to labour hard with studies. Don’t I know that I should perform well in my class. For them I appear only a sloppy boy. What good is his erudition when he doesn’t know amusement is also significant to become a good performer in studies. Study…study…that’s all he says to me. A movie and a book, a game and a test all have equal importance. This blacky spends his evening with a book, and I pass out with a movie especially when the next day is going to be a school holiday. What’s the difference! Alright, let me give a last try.

“I’ve a head ache, not feeling well.”

“Oh! Look at him, don’t ever think we are stupid. Prikriti, pull the rug.”

What a cruel brother he is. It matters not to him if I’m sick or not feeling well, a stone hearted man. Pull the rug, I won’t get up. Its only 8 and too early to leave the bed in a Saturday, for the one who has to go to school every morning. Ss…now they have crossed the limit.

“Hold on, what are you doing?”

“See how he talks with his brother.”

This wrinkled woman, how she supports her husband and children. I can’t understand this family. Youngest, but always abused. When I do not mingle into their affairs, why they poke into mine? Loving doesn’t mean meddling into other’s private life. Every morning I have to swallow their reproach, why my business interests them. Why these old man and woman not pray to God instead of starting the day with harsh words, at least they could wash off their sins.

“Okay, here I am. What you want me to do, your highness?”

“Shut up! Have your tea, do the washing and open your text books.”

Look at their behaviour, they treat me as if I’m theirs slave. I’m younger and smaller, does this mean I have to obey them always. Studying or not studying, that’s to me, why it pinches them.

“Ha! He’ll study?”

Why is this blacky plying smart? Let him study, be a great man. Why take interest in other people.

“In while he’ll deceive us and go out.”

This silly girl, why she condemns me always.  She is a university graduate does this imply she has every rights to rein me. Already 23 and still unmarried. Why doesn’t the family organize her wedding? At least one would be less to scoff me off.

*

“Going where with a bag?’

Oh shit! This old man never stops spying. Why does it hurt him, where I go or what I do. Don’t they have any other business to attend, apart from stepping into my life. Looks like he’s reading a newspaper but actually is a sentry at the veranda, to check if I’ll be out. Eyes are in the paper and mind runs only after me, the sadist.

“Tuition”

“A Saturday, you know.”

Earlier didn’t he say Saturday or no Saturday you can’t sleep longer. And now why he thinks I can’t go for tuition in a holiday. He is really ridiculous.

“I’m having extra classes these days. Tests are near.”

“Alright, but be sure to come back home straight from the class. Want to look how you are doing in the school these days.”

I will handle that when it comes. But first, I have to run from here.

“I’ll be having two hours class, going to be quite late.

“Alright. But remember to be home, straight.”

You silly old man, only if it was a tuition class! Let me play him a fool again.

“I need some money.”

“Why?”

“For a zoology note book.”

“Mm…I suppose you asked for zoology last week.”

Oh shit! The old man turns to be clever than I thought. What am I to say now. Anyways I have to bottle him up.

“I need another one.”

“How much.”

“Hundred bucks.”

“Hundred?  Are you crazy?”

You stingy, closed fisted old man. Does a man become niggard when he has plenty? Whatever! I have to disappear from here sooner, or if someone’s spots me, they will have an axe to grill.

“Yes hundred! Don’t you know things are getting costlier these days.”

*

“Mani, as always. Late.”

“Try to understand man, have to trick the guards. You may be free, not I.”

“Just shut up, okay. Everywhere its the same, the only difference is some are more demanding and others are less, but off course demanding they are.”

“But mine is a Guantanamo. I said the teacher is giving a two-hour extra class, then only the old man let me out.”

“Great idea!”

“Its a crap! One day they will catch you red hand.”

“Do you think I’m a fool like you?”

“Boys, why are you messed up with silly things? Let’s start our cricket.”

“Where’re others, a group of four hardly makes a team.”

“Well, we can play in the afternoon, by then there will be lots of boys.”

 “Alright! But what now? If I’m back, they wouldn’t let me get out in the afternoon. I just had to pretend that I’m having combined studies with friends.”

“I too will be in hot waters to be out of home in the afternoon when they are watching a movie.”

“What movie?”

“Some Hindi craps!”

“Yesterday, I watched UP and was admonished the entire morning.”

“You are still at animated movies? I watched Twilight, its a must-watch. The action, and the vampires you’ll kind of love it.”

“What now? Shall we go for a movie?”

“Where?”

“In the City Centre, Wolfman

“But what about these bats and balls?”

“Movie? Drop it. Let’s go to my home, they have gone for a movie.”

“So”

“Play some games, I’ve got some new.”

“Its better to be home than to pass time doing nothing. Well actually, my old man said he will ask me from books.”

“Why don’t you show him your unit test reports? He’ll be happy to see all the As.”

“He doesn’t believe in the report. He knows how we tamper the grades. He even doesn’t believe the terminal reports, he says we cheat.”

“So, you are going home?”

“Why don’t we go to Nature Club?”

“Good idea. But I don’t have enough money.”

“Here I have, its for zoology note book. Ha-ha-ha!”

*

“Ss…talk slowly, everyone’s in home, they might listen.”

“Is it a problem? We are kite-flying in a holiday!”

“A problem for them. Besides I have pretended to be studying.”

“You are smart, you can always fool them but not me. Look over there, the kites.”

“Release the thread.”

“This thread seems good, when did you buy?”

“Money for study-tour.”

“Study tour? When was that?”

“You know, but they don’t.”

“How could you fool them like that? No one believes me.”

“You have to have brains, you know.”

“Have you finished the assignments?”

“No, but why bother when you can copy from others in the school. Hold it, my hands are aching.”

“If none of the friends have done, who we copy from?”

“Don’t panic, there are always those girls.”

“Girls? No! I don’t want to mess up with them. How ugly they are, but do you remember those waiting for bus at New Road?”

“Yes off course! Have you had crush on them?”

“Nonsense. I just mean they are good to look at.”

“Good God! You are in love. I must tell the boys.”

“Oh! Don’t do that. You always create a scene.”

“How’re the girls from AVM, the ones we meet back home?

“Mm…good!”

“Then let’s purpose one of them for you.”

“No, just shut up, okay. You’re saying this, but tomorrow you will exaggerate saying I said this, I said that.”

“Take it easy, man. There’s nothing to feel sorry for.”

*

What’re they doing? Why don’t I hear their voices? I’m famished, have gone to the kitchen thrice but found nothing to eat. I’m hooked to a book, just in case they might see and think I’m studying. Here, in the room all alone there’s nothing to do, restlessly I’m squandering my time. Only if I could ring my friends? But the phone is in the drawing room, and I’m not allowed to touch it. I’m allergic to books, my body’s aching.  If they see me right now, they could stop their castigations at least for a while, because I’m studying. Studying? Ha! And the old man said he will test me, and he may change his mind if he sees a book opened in front of me.

Oho! She is here.

“My darling brother has been studying entire day, here are some snacks for the good boy.”

Don’t bother to butter me. Shit-shit-shit! This guy’s also here.

“What did you do the entire day?”

I was studying. Why is he playing over smart?

“Pravin, just don’t be rude always, okay.”

Piggy! I won’t fall for your flattering. What’s for snacks – beaten-rice and potatoes! I just love potatoes, but beaten-rice, I hate it. If I eat potatoes only and leave beaten-rice untouched, I sure will get berating. I’m not even fed well here. I know they are the bread winner, I’m too young to contribute for the expenses, and here they dominate me.

“Will you like to go for snooker?”

“No”

You fool! I’ll never go with you anywhere, any time. I am always at their mercy. If they are irritated at anything they pour their frustrations into me. Why are they always after me. They are so old fashioned, everything I do, is vice for them. These old people visit temples its because they are pious, when I go, its for eve teasing. They are so traditionalists. Am I not at the right age to have some fun. If I don’t enjoy this moment than when – when I reach their age?

Oh! I think its getting dark, the day gone useless. The weekdays are ahead – go to school in the morning, do the assignments, and listen to their lectures; back to home tired to death and then wait them blurt out invectives. I’m fed up with this life. Only if not for friends, I wouldn’t be in school, their company makes me afresh. And then its also a fun to wrangle with teachers sometimes, and also those girls. Yesterday it was too good to make fun of that pot-bellied teacher. Sometime worse waits, like in Thursday, that bald teacher saw me fooling girls. Nonetheless, who cares, what they think – those girls, those teachers, and last but not the least this band of autocrats. A pathetic misfit I am.

Chapter Two

Its early summer morning. Sun is already in the sky, I suppose, I can’t see it though, maybe, hidden behind the obscurity of thick clouds. I’m waiting reluctantly for my school bus. I look at the street and find nothing so fascinating about it. It is, I must admit, as the environment itself. Cool morning breeze fills my lungs, nay not the fresh one because you don’t wish for pure, right here in the city gagged with smoke, dust and harmful gases. I’m whole alone at the stop – no one but the trees along the concrete footpath, huge corporate boards and the tarred road staring at me.

I’m leaning against a tree. A pigeon drop its dirt and luckily I survive from being its target. Cursing the bird silently, I walk to the electricity pole and stand there. I’m really upset of waiting – nothing in the world is as hectic as waiting – I quite don’t understand either, I’m too early or the bus itself is being late. Feeling restless, I loiter around, fidgeting with fingers. Then of a sudden, I see a girly figure heeding towards me, my inquisitive mind supposes she must be young and beautiful. Heart is leaping up. Here comes the lady, stands few paces away, she is beautiful and very charming. Of course, she is young, what do you think!

Oho! Aha! My young heart makes frantic cry and dances with sheer joy. My heart is young so is my body, I’m a teenager and she too is – that I know. Oh boy! She’s looking at me through the corner of her eyes. Now, I can hardly stop myself dancing around. Good God! Let the girl give me another look, I want to go inside her heart and her to entire mine. But how am I supposed to know if she got the same feelings. Yeah-Yeah! She surely must have a crush with me by this time, a love at first sight. Ha! Ha! Ha! Love in the bus stop.

To tell you the truth, I’m very handsome and attractive boy, and the one to be longed for love. Like the appearance, my attitudes are good, brimming with passion and emotions. Complexion is very fair and not to mention my beautiful light brown hair and eyes. I always dress well. Above all a dimple on my cheekbone makes me cool and sexy. I swear, I’m that sort of guy for whom young girls, like the one standing by my side, are ready to jump from the top of the building.

But alas! The girl doesn’t give me a second look. Why? Am I looking ugly or have I not combed my hair properly or my shoes aren’t polished or the uniforms aren’t ironed or are the uniforms themselves playing smart? Girl, are you thinking me a silly high school boy?

Her face is new, I haven’t seen her before. Presumably, because we are still strangers she seems uninterested, not looking at me. It becomes quite unexpected when a girl doesn’t care a young handsome boy like me. My eyes and heart both are focused at her but her eyes…somewhere else, and her heart – I don’t know. Is it possible having placed her eyes somewhere, she is putting me in her heart? Yes, it surely can be for I’m young and handsome. The only minus point is my height, I’m a bit short, nevertheless, not that short as well to be someone’s special.

What kind of girl might she be? From her dress-up, she too seems like high school girl. She’s wearing black trousers and black stiletto, her shirt is cream coloured and a bag hanging just over her knee. Her hair with streaks of yellow colouring is perfectly matching her darker complexion. A Black Beauty! Gee!

She is of average height, alright she is fit for me. Her eyes are…I can’t quite get it, either they’re blue or brown, anyway they are attractive enough for a boy like me to go crazy. I stretch my body, is this enough to pull her attention. She looks at me and immediately turns off. Thank God! You listened me. I make myself little stiff and tighten my arms to make her see my biceps. I silently curse myself, for being in a full sleeve shirt. Have I been in a half sleeve or sleeveless, she would certainly have gone crazy for my fitness. She moves her head slightly. Girl, I understand you, you’re trying to have a look. Oh Shit! She turned her head again. How can I hit her, every attempt of mine goes for nothing and now here’s the last weapon, which has never been failed till this date.

“Excuse me, would you mind telling me the time?”

She looks me straight. Yup! She enters inside through the eyes, melts my cool heart with her warm tenderness. I swear nobody has ever looked me with such passion until now. She fixes her eyes at my wrist. O boy! I’ve a watch and asking a girl for time, such a fool I seemed to her. Anyways, its my way. I know how to have a control over the situation.

“I’m afraid, my watch’s not working.”

“Six-fifteen,” answer is exactly to the point.

Oops! Her voice is far better than her face, still I don’t object her looks either. My lips quiver for some more. Anyways, that’s what I am. But…Ss…to add my surprise she’s moving a bit farther. You bitch! What the hell you think yourself – Miss Nepal, Miss World, Miss Universe? A handsome guy is trying to be friendly and this silly girl is turning off. I wish I could smack her head or shall I do it on her backside. Ha!

Just then, a city bus come and a man gets off. He gives a lenient look at her and goes near, whistles and winks his eyes. The girl feels uneasy and moves little farther. It matters not, does it? She deserves. But…what’s this heart saying? I feel like commiserating her. Ok, ok, I’ll help her. I clear my throat. The lascivious man looks at me and I stare him fiercely. He apologises with his eyes and almost runs. I wonder what he thought about us. Lovebirds nestling? He-he-he!

Everything is absurd, ridiculous if you like. I giggle. She too, smiles. But who cares. I kick a pebble as if I’m kicking her off from my mind, and look at the street to see if the bus is coming. To speak the truth, till now not a single girlfriend I have made, although so many girls are my classmates, friends actually. I take them as the ones unable to understand my heart. Every time I think of trying for myself, girls behave in the same way, hence my conviction is most of the girls are too silly to be friendly with. Even my English teacher says, “The dog, the walnut tree and the woman, the more you hit, the better they become.”

I remember, once I was travelling in a bus to my uncle’s house. It was a long journey and the boring one. On one stop, a young lady boards the bus. I kind of smiled. She looked at me and the empty seat besides mine. I thought she would surely sit there at my side. Unlike my expectations, she walked past and took a seat next to an older man. My young heart was thinking something good of her, but then immediately turned off, and began cursing her. Nevertheless time and again I turned to see how she’s doing with that lucky bastard. I saw that son of a bitch behaving kinkily, no one would expect from the man of that age with a young girl like that. My heart laughed loudly when she looked helplessly at me. She couldn’t charge the man as he seemed to be asleep or couldn’t have the guts to abandoning the old man and sit beside a young boy as no other seat was empty.

And this time too, this girl is looking at me expectantly, a deep faith in her eyes. Who cares? She tried to insult my feelings earlier. I’m a glamorous icon amongst my classmates. I bet many girls go crazy for me, wish to die or try for hanging around. Indeed, I’ve never given a single preference to any of them. But this girl, a silly one! Was she taking me a playboy, or thinking I was playing her for a fool. Can this good-looking guy be doing such dirty things? What a foolish conviction of mine. Well actually, I’m a simple guy who wants to love, to be loved…

Not only I’m popular amongst my generation but equally famous with the elders as well. I swear I’m not a boastful guy. Neither I’m not putting myself on the pedestal, nor talking rot, its a real truth. I’m the one with intelligence, good sense of humour and good spirit. But what to say about this girl! Here’s young man who longs to comfort and be closer to her heart, instead she turns off. I bet, now, she’s being positive towards me but who cares this insolent girl, anyways.

Wow! My young heart tries to usher me inside hers. What’s this, my mind still against her but heart – don’t ask me about it. It goes on. Yeah, goes on and on. Ayah, I’m already inside her heart. So sorry, very small, unable to hold all my emotional and romantic feelings. Hey girl, are you feeling me, I’m already within your heart. Its wonderful. Yeah, its marvellous.

A bus comes and stops before me, screeching its tire.

You…the girl looks into my eyes. No anger at all. Smiling gently she boards the bus. The driver is playing a song.

Hit me baby

On moves the bus forward. The bewitching smile she threw hits me one more time. Really the smile hits my heart.

Craps! That was my school bus, wasn’t that? The bus swayed away, it passed by my side. I should have boarded, instead left it. Good golly heavens! The girl boarded my school bus. Now, I do remember, she was wearing uniform like mine, black trousers and cream coloured shirt. Shit! She was the same girl who was admitted in my class yesterday. What a dumb I have been. Oh boy, what am I suppose to do now, the bus is gone, the girl is gone and so is my heart, I – the silly guy standing here, middle of nowhere. Pissed off!

Chapter Three

Her hungry eyes fell on him. He searched for blouse of affection. In the dark corner of a restaurant hall, they exchanged skins. They were young lovers searching for privacy, their love six weeks old.

They were few miles away from hustle and bustle, on the road to Shivapuri, in a restaurant’s secluded diner that gave them all the privacy they wanted.  She was sitting on the couch hanging her legs slightly apart, he was in supine position resting his head on her lap. Her head was lowered, breasts fell over his eyes. The wafting perfume was suffocating him, notwithstanding, he didn’t bother himself. He caressed her nape, moved his fingers to her protruding breast and fondled. On the process he felt little awkward taking himself as a novice. Couple of minutes later he pulled her head apart. Looking into his lascivious gaze she smiled coquettishly. He got up and sat stuck, legs hanging like hers. He touched her thigh, it was covered with silk trousers. She quavered with excitement. He placed his legs on hers such that he could press the part between her legs. She lowered her eyes, could feel his muscles tighten inside his jeans. She gave a soft pat it stiffened. She was frenzied.

“Naughty boy,” she cooed into his ears.

The rapid palpitation was very much vivid on her body, it made her perspire, so was he. He slipped his hand inside her sweatshirt, for a while he stroked the delicate lumps of muscle. Then he moved his hand inside her trousers and the apparel underneath, he could feel thin curly hair. Quite a while, she let him do that, and then she pulled his hand out.

“Naughty boy,” she whispered in English.

She clung to his head and began suckling his tongue. She was so voracious that he felt she would swallow him. He moved his hand to her waist and slipped inside trousers, once again. He rubbed his finger in the narrow space between her bottoms. She stopped kissing.

“No,” she said softly but in a wild commotion. He tossed his head to glare her eyes. “I’ll get pregnant.”

He was quizzical. “You’ll conceive by this, fondling your organs?”

“You could lose your control,” she gasped, “and I too.”

He kissed on her lips softly. “Let’s go,” he said.

After they were done with passionate kissing, they walked towards the cashier. She sighed. “Too young for sex,” she said. He uttered no words, still, winked his eye. She was lascivious again.  But then he stood up, strained her hand making her stand with him. Suddenly, he pulled her hips towards his, it was so impulsive that she was surprised, she feigned anger but had actually liked it. They walked to the reception to pay the bill. The meaty man behind the counter smiled. “Had fun?”

She did not like that. “Why did that rascal had to smile at me?” she said afterwards. Nonetheless, the boy said that was okay, because in a single day he deals with dozens of young couples seeking privacy.

They walked under elongated shadows, along the highway. Yellow sun rays forked the trees. Their hearts were speeding, and they were brisk towards the parking lot, trying hard to make them pertinent after their long foreplay. They were young lovers, living entirely in their present, never thought about future. Six weeks had gone since their first meeting, they were ready to make out, only they need a little space.

It was in a bank at King’s Way they had met for the first time. He was not feeling comfortable, staggering and fidgeting with his limp hat. Then he saw her get inside. He was timid and reticent not to mere strangers but also kin and buddies, though time again he asserted that he was a smart guy. This time the stone turned upside, he went to her breaking the ice.

“May I burrow a pen, please,” he said sedately holding a form, “I’ve to fill a voucher.” He wasn’t kidding her. He really didn’t have a pen that he needed to fill the deposit slip. He was thinking to burrow it from someone and looking for the right person, and then he saw her. Why not this girl – his mind whispered. Try for it, alright – he said to himself. He, proper as never, gentle and courteous pre-empted her. She handed her pen and watched him write down the voucher. He was flustered and this embarrassment prompted him into doing many mistakes. He slapped himself on head and went to the customer care desk to fetch another slip. She chuckled and went to join the queue. In a short while he too was queuing and there were three people between them. He was restless and strained his head to see the girl but she did not turn back. He thought of making some sound to pull her attention but wondered if she could listen over the blaring National Geographic on the TV.

“Don’t jump over the line, young man,” a heavy man with thick moustache said.

“My friend is there,” he pleaded.

The man glanced at the girl, only her head was apparent and the he lowered his head to watch the boy. “Alright,” he said and let him go forward. Now, there was an Indian woman to crossover, he could easily pass over her. He frowned and stood before her, she muttered something of which he had no idea. His lurching made the blonde before him turn back. He smiled and gestured he was intending to stand before her, she raised her brows smugly. He pointed at the girl. Perhaps she understood, for her lips stretched. She pushed him. The girl turned back, she in fact was not anxious. He liked her prudence.

“Thank you for helping me with a pen,” he almost said to her ears. He was actually being sincere. She put her index fingers into her ears like earplugs. She giggled. Her white set of teeth he liked. Lips were red, he was sure no colour was applied on them. He could smell mild aroma of lady’s deodorant, and cream on her. Her brown shaggy hair was just before his nose and very frequently air rushing out blew the strands, which obviously made him hilarious. Still she didn’t turn back after taking her pen. His heart was heavily pounding but no words came to his mouth. What should I talk about – he inquired himself, however mind did not satiate him with a repartee. When the teller beckoned at the remittance counter he zoomed past her. He looked into her eyes, smiled and handed the voucher and cash to the teller. No sooner he looked back he did not found her at her place but at the cash counter.

The woman behind the glass pane was very slow. Her face though fair was ugly, there were thin furs over her lips, she was corpulent. Resenting her silently he looked other side, the girl was on her own. The simplicity and innocence in her fair complexion, he liked. Her apparels – red trousers and white sweatshirt lured him. He walked briskly to the water with the receipt in his hand. Indeed, he was not thirsty rather getting cold in his jeans and sleeveless. The girl was still at the counter, he was in no hurry and wanted to make most of the time. He filled the plastic tumbler. When he gulped cold water, his body quivered.

The girl counted money and swaggered, he followed her. Sensing someone behind, she tossed her head, he smiled trying to assert it was just a coincidence, but completely failed. He flushed and she chuckled. He was sick at heart, found no words and she too, did not utter any. He walked with determined steps out of the building. It was late afternoon, sun was pale, few vehicles were on the road – he felt very cosy, he mustered confidence.

“Well…” he said. She was little irritated, and was in no mood to answer him. “Don’t take otherwise, I mean if we both are going to the same place.”

“I’m going Thamel.”

“Oh really! I too,” he said euphorically.

She looked into his eyes, was he talking rot. “I’m afraid, I’m not going Thamel,” she said.

“Phew! You’re lying. Obviously, you’re going to Thamel. You’ve the money and you want to have a stroll over the mart. I’m sure of it.”

“How much sure?” she inquired.

“As much as you and I are here…”

She laughed walking towards the Keshar Mahal, and he walked after her.  “It not my money.”

“At the moment its yours, you have it in your hand bag.”

She giggled. He was in jovial mood and she didn’t mind. “Are you eying it,” she asked with a hint of anger. It was artificial, it could be seen on her.

“No way,” he retorted light-heartedly. “I’m after something else.”

She was startled. “What?”

“Bonhomie,” he was enthusiastic.

“Mm…” she wrinkled her nose.

“How silly of me,” he said tossing his head. “Why would you befriend a stranger?”

She laughed. “You seem interesting.”

“Interesting? O God! This belle says I’m interesting. Tell me am I?” He gazed at the sky, it was blue with auburn clouds.

“You have impressed me,” she said, “I’m taking this way, where’re you going?” She meant she was going to Lainchour or Lazimpat.

“Going where?”

“Suwal”

“Music or movies?”

“Both”

“May I accompany you?”

“If I say no.”

“Still I will come.”

She smirked moseying the footpath where big trees stood, with lots of bats on it hanging upside down. They were walking on the side of the huge boundary wall of Mr Amayta, the prominent tycoon. On the other side was the Royal Palace.

“What’s your name,” he asked.

“Name? She feigned anger. He liked her anger.

“Why would you tell me your name, so stupid of me.”He gave a soft pat on his head.

She laughed. “Mala!”

He liked her laughter. He liked her name.

“Parivesh Sharma. You can call me Mani.”

“Why Mani? Your  sobriquet?”

“I like to be called Mani by the people very close to me.”

“I won’t call you Mani. I’m not close to you.”

“You’ll be.”

Wild burst of laughter rang out of her and it coincided with Mani’s.

Chapter Four

I weigh sugar in a spoon like goldsmith weighing yellow metal. I pour in the cup, I ruminate, believing that’s not enough. I take other spoonful and stir coffee. Hot vapour rises up. The fringe of cup is just below my lips. Vapour just like monsoon clouds gather over my face. Yet I haven’t sipped coffee. I puff out, air accelerates over the coffee, hot air rises up. Hot air…

Bugger me! Look how’s she sitting, as if she is in her bedroom or on her favourite arm chair. Ho-ho! Her cloths, how aggressive they are – a six feet lady wearing pieces of cloths that are only two feet up and down.

“Open the window, its so hot inside.”

You wretch! Why wouldn’t you feel hot when you are wearing hot? Earlier she asked me to close the window, now she wants me to open. Am I your lackey to play by your rules?

“If you don’t mind I’d like to sit by the window.”

Just cut your craps. Bugger off. Why will not she be pragmatic, some kind of sociality ought to be with her. What kind of people are they, bunch of morons, individualist occidentals, always promulgating themselves superiors. Day by day they are manoeuvring to the state of oblivion but thoughtlessly assert they are civilised and modern. Are they?

“Thank you.”

Suck up!  Your bare body has spurred my mind ooze out lasciviousness. At least she has to have savoir-faire for this poor guy. Why doesn’t cease to provoke me. My masculine psyche, how would I wring it. Delicate white skin that is seductive is beckoning me to fondle. Her facial beauty, sublime. Tch! Why does she avert every time I gaze her. Occidental morons! Why she emanates kind of loathing for me. Very like a Nepali girl she watches me from the corners of her eyes, but tries to look indifferent when you look at her. Nepali instinct, does she too have? Complexities abound are juxtaposed in mind but trying to act sober, an accomplished actor.

Well, its not very important how’s her inner world like, or if Nepali instinct reins her. I wouldn’t have been hyperactive lest her outlook hadn’t been so. I’m kind of guy from feudalistic society or say was brought up in ancient capitalism, their free society or modern capitalism has nothing to do with me. Their show off has slaked me. This apart if the blonde would exchange few words, that that would be simply great. Few words? No way, many words, millions of things to share.

“I think we met yesterday.”

Suck up! Who’s this imbecile? I’m trying to lose me on the blonde’s elegance and he startles me. But who is this moron. My head unknowingly turns to check him out. This happens when body doesn’t support your mind that I tell you, is still at blonde’s grace. Nevertheless, I cannot go on watching her long, very often she glares. Like the jerks, I’m getting in this running bus, quelling my delirious state, the stimulating thoughts are side-tracked. I simply can’t spurn.

“Yes?”

This I must say, but I can tell you, I haven’t met him earlier. At least if it was a woman, I would pretend to recollect and say – I think we met but I don’t quite remember when and where. But this is a Nepali bloke. If it was a girl, even a Nepali, I would have been appeased, thinking happily though not a blonde, a girl from my own country is interested.

This bugger might take my answer affirmative though it was in a falling tone. Silly Nepalese aren’t adroit, they are a bull shit. These kinds of people have ducked the country into the mire. People who can’t even conduct their own family have clout over the nation. They know not but conceit, Nepalese jackals. They don’t imbibe much but blabber ceaselessly.

“Did we?”

I have to say this, alright. Otherwise these ignorant tourist guides where on earth understand beauty of English language. How could they fathom stress, intonation and phonetics of the language they learned from shabby foreigners?

“I think you are from Israel.”

Oho! This jackass thinks me an Israeli.

“No, I’m a Nepali.”

Want to see my citizenship certificate, you rascal.

The man makes a surveillance, from head to toe, might be assessing my assertion. To tell about me, I’m abreast with the gorgeous blonde. Aha, if I’d an opportunity to have a nice chit-chat, as with this bloke, what would I talk about? I can’t say, feelings are pent up.

Ma Nepali.”

Seems to believe only when I blurt out in broad vernacular. Says, the Israeli he met in Thamel yesterday was very like me. Stupid, he changed my nationality, my religion. I haven’t dyed my hair like my peers, to look White European Male. I’m in jeans and T-shirt, the uniform of my generation. My attire made me look ambiguous? Not really, I reckon. This is what I say Nepali shortcomings.

Bus is speeding on the highway like a moving serpent, making me twitch here and there. While on this side I control myself, while on her side I push myself entirely over her body. Believe me dear, these are the roads of the country you have come to visit. It always happens in the hilly roads. In our country, this occurs even in aeroplanes. This place is not cosy like yours. Wretched people, wretched country. Say whatever you wish for – ogling, kinky any of that ilk. But poor lady, she doesn’t cavil, rather tries to save herself, thinking it a bogey. Did she forget when she rested her head on my shoulder? Or she too has belief in caste system, like Nepalese do, thinking me an outcast popularly called dalit here. I am untouchable…no, not really, a Brahmin’s son, a young man from well off family. Why she behaves indifferently with him.

“Excuse me.”

I strain myself towards the window to spit. Her blue eyes. By Jove! Haven’t been successful to alter her perceptions, three hours have passed, touching her flesh, stroking through eyes her graceful youth. I have heard people say they fall in love and decide to live together in a couple of hours. They are so much free. But here, everything has been quite opposite. I remember a man saying they make out between the aisles during a journey like this. No one demur, they do only when they have to walk on the passage. Barbarous people! Here in our country, only animals make love in open space. It happens there, however, here this alamode hasn’t let me see her properly. Furtive glances are what I have to be content with.

“Excuse me.”

Its her turn, now. Bus has stopped and she wants to get down, maybe, she has to go to restroom. Off course she wants, she has been gulping water once in a while.

“Please.”

I gesture with alacrity though I’m determined to let her no space. This opportunity of dashing the bodies I won’t let go. I must entwine with her body. This kind of situation my buddies say are moments of unearthliness. Once one of them said, “Mani, if you want to pass through unearthliness, watch out the goddess of beautiful butts and protruding busts.”

I did not understand what he meant but I tossed my head to look at the other side of the street. There was a skimpy Mongolian girl – but she must be Nepali I presume – rolling her gaits. Nepalese too haven’t lagged behind when it comes to Occidentalize them by the skin shows. They have interpreted development and modernism with the haute couture. Still, I could not properly understand what unearthliness is all about.

“Do you know, today we went through unearthliness,” one day my friend said.

It was the day when they had ogled at many girls. Another time, unearthliness was when they dashed with hot girls. Once after watching X-rated movie in his room a friend said, “Aha! Today’s moment of unearthliness was great. When to pass again with such unearthliness?”

Now I understood, he was asking when to watch a porno again. Nevertheless, unearthliness did not always mean watching sex-films or sexy girls; bumping into hot women, ogling, sitting with them or talking to them were all the roads to unearthliness as promulgated by my friends.

I fling my head as if I’m watching the sky, she gazes down at the earth. I don’t know if I could reach a foot above her pierced navel. What do they eat to grow so huge? Wretched me! What are personal jeremiads when the country itself is cheated from many things. I don’t give her an inch of space and she abrasively passes away. I inhale long breath. Her hot air is hovering over my face.

Did I pass through unearthliness? No, not yet. But presumably, this hot breathe and blue eyes have emanated some solicitude, I guess. Alright! I see a glimmer of hope. If only I could approach direct, alas, I tremor thinking about it. I could do only from my body language, its rather a fray I can’t accomplish. Let’s see what’s in the future’s womb.

Why am I sitting sedentarily inside a bus? Its breakfast time, I ought to get out for something to eat, lest I’ll remain famished until lunch time, have I ever been able to control hunger. I boarded the bus at 7 and except water, some crisps and a piece of chocolate, I haven’t eaten anything. Would a Nepali be glutted without eating steamed rice?

Mm…where’s my dear blond gone…dear…Ha-ha-ha. She hasn’t even looked at me properly, in such case would she be dear. Why wouldn’t she. She is a beautiful lady, everything that are beautiful are dear. Mountains are beautiful, flowers are beautiful, butterfly, rivers, lakes – they are dear. And the blonde!  Aha how charismatic she is, feel like caressing. Cheeks, lips, only if I could taste them. What a delightful languor, the blonde indispensible part of my buoyancy. Only if she had spoken to me or looked at me. Bitch! What would you lose, do they cost money. Sick woman, product of individualist society, how could she imbibe my chivalry. Her body, how big it is, and look at me – a Twin Otter next to the Boeing.

“Mani, when I looked at you, I saw three heads,” my friend said. Sorry, how could anyone see three heads when there are only two people sitting? “Don’t you understand, do you? Three heads in a straight line.”

In a straight line? What does he mean? She is tall and heavily built. Her head will rest on the seat above mine.

“Oh shit! Three heads…”

He boisterously laughed. We were murmuring from the opposite seats almost heads joined. But his laughter was much louder. It felt very uneasy, I looked at the blonde if she was watching me go rosy. My head was just below her shoulder. Ha! What an insolent fellow. Poor girl, she was looking out of the window, maybe she is little nostalgic, or perhaps searching peace on these hills and forest. So unfair to utter such unkind words. I just turned from him, and found the conductor irritatingly looking at me. When my eyes met his, he winked. Bugger, shall I pierce his eyes. I knew he was a kind of dirty in the morning.

“Brother, I’m a conductor of a tourist bus. No other than white woman seems beautiful to me. Their cleavage, midriffs, navel, thighs…”

Hold your tongue, you rascal, you’re not suppose to cast your dirty thoughts.

“Oh brother, sometimes I get a chance to dash into them, they say nothing. Sometimes they are very generous, they give me tips.”

Son of a bitch! Shut your pie hole!

“A blonde is next to you. Aha, she is beautiful. Brother, have fun.”

How could he, the one who was so amorous in the morning, would not be coquettish this time? His every glance makes me uneasy. And then two friends are on the other side. Morons! In the morning trying to isolate me from their company they sat together, perhaps, they are envious seeing me sitting with the blonde.

“It had never been so, brother. Today there are only Indians, and very few whites. And most of them are couples or blokes.”

If I say something he might embarrass me. So better to remain quiet.

“So sad brother, the two brunettes sitting in the front have never looked at me.” Bugger, don’t you understand they are partners. “And this one is obviously yours.” Why is he buggering about such obnoxious comments?

Earlier the bus conductor was bothering me much and now at this breakfast break, these two friends are making me at nerves. One comments, another elaborates. What did you do…Did you stroke her skin…I saw you stuck to her. Conspirators! In the morning they deserted me and now are jealous. But where has the blonde gone?

Hot air is rising up from the heated soil, this blowing air too, is pretty hot. Back of this restaurant, down the hillock a river furiously flowing, too, might be hot. This dining hall cramped with people is hot. Indians make noise, this has also heated the room. I’m smouldering hot from my friends’ callous words. I take the cup to the lips, hot air heats my face. The chicken chilly and French fries that the waiter fetched for us is hot, hot steam is rising up.

I don’t see my dearest blonde, where has she gone, making me fume here with all the hot things.

Chapter Five

Eva arrived in Mani’s life, like a winter’s sun, like autumn’s moon. Mani came into Eva’s life, like a spring’s sprout and blossoms of rain. Eva lighted the lamp inside Mani and Mani placed his heart inside her. Mani wants to fill oil in the lamp, and she longs to pump blood in Mani’s heart.

The ethereal sound from a violin is thumping the room, ripping Mani, he is floating in the waves. Lying on the bed, he is neither asleep nor awake, not in complete senses and not in numbness, albeit, ignited in Eva’s lustre, and wallowing in her tenderness. The sound is whirling, twilight is peeping through the window, and he is plunging into her depth, melting in her warmth, spreading his wings on the vastness of her affection. The gentle touch of music is the melody of her life, sweet aroma of her existence. These strokes are sweet memories of love, joyful meeting; and also separation, a prolonged pain. Here, time and space have vanished, life and the world disappeared, and this also is the reminder of spring’s aroma, rain’s greenery.

He recollects her words: I’ve a conviction, time will again unite us, to feel the warmth of our hearts. He said to her: You’ve a safe place in my heart beats. That was the last time they saw the other, a seen off memory. He gazed her with watery eyes, she with trembling lips, and she boarded the plane. He watched her steps, fixing his eyes on her heavy gait. Then he returned to his abode, anguished heart, weary soul – the saga of his wounded entity, abstract even to him. Time wore off days and weeks and months, but memories did not erode, instead it blazed more distinctly. He knew outright he had to be apart and leave her someday, similarly she was consciously aware, she was to carry only his shadow. They were together only for few weeks, but he felt, they knew the other since the time immemorial, when the primordial man and woman had watched the rising sun hand in hand.

Mani turns over the pages of his memories and stops at the place when he met her for the first time. No, he can’t go further. When he thinks of meeting, the moment of separation also follows like a shadow, and separation never has the same appeal. Separation gives pain, and pain gives edginess. While floating on the cascades of reflections, he doesn’t want to beckon segregation, instead, longs to enter the world of union, and be alighted in Eva’s gleam.

Eva said, “Mani, listen those ripples, feel the waves. In this concerto, a canoe is floating, tottering in the dim crescent moon-light. In due vibration of the violin, it is moving forward where shadow of the moon is broken. Let us aboard the boat and heed to the distant fate.”

He is on the boat surrounded by the same music, feeling the jerks. Eva is bathing on the dim moon light. He, glistened by her gentle softness, is melting even in the chilling night. Slowly light enters there. He opens his eyes, someone has switched the lights on. He dislikes the brightness, for Eva loves obscurity; her intense desire now his wild frenzy. He gets up to switch off the lights. There is no sound of the violin, he plays another track. In this symphony, there is a tenor of saxophone, and Mani and Eva are gazing the setting sun, the gentle blue of horizon is encased with the vermilion. Mani paints his conscience red.

This is not the world of reality, this is a dream. Dreams are sweet, and beautiful. There is a hero, a heroine, a world of their own, no villain is to enter, no differences to counter. Flowers everywhere, thorns never expected, and they don’t exist either. There is an enigmatic sound, mysterious aroma, every spick-and-span it intoxicates. In the reality, there are religion, society, race that is the hero captured in a cage, and heroine in the other cage. The world of reality is a dreadful cage, it can’t be broken. If one is crushed, other captures.

Eva: Why were we born in different parts of the world?

Mani: Why we met in this part of the world?

Why do we have to separate, Mani?

Why we met Eva?

Mani, Why is there religious bar between us?

Eva, why a geographical boundary?

Mani is distressed and perplexed, smothered by those conundrums. The primeval world was not this, everyone were the children of earth, had equal rights to ramble the soil. Sky, air, water earth everywhere is the same, that man and woman doesn’t differ much, that people have blood, bones, muscles, that they respire and eat, that they laugh and cry, that red blood runs through their veins. One world, one earth – why is a man two or three or many? In reality there’s no variation, all people have the same tendency, emotions, compassions. The thing that troubles here also torments those people. When people cry for their beloved’s death, they do same everywhere; the laughter is the same, and delight is the same. The surrounding maybe different, situations maybe varied, the outer world may be unlike but in the core everything is cognate. Concepts and visions may differ but grief, pains, happiness, joy is the same. What you need is the ability to fathom.

But why is this disparity, who dug this void, why can’t people be content with the wholeness, what made them divide the land, the sky, the water, the air.

Dear Eva, we must be able to understand the oneness, for we belong to the entire earth. People created the nations, what’s the use of saying mother to the limited territory. We did not create the earth, we do not have a sole right. People divided themselves in races, religion, languages, groups and class. Actually no boundaries exist, no wall between the people. In spite of this, a group is being foe of the other, the folly thing people have committed. And what can we do dear, except cursing the way of the world. You’re there, I’m here. People say the world is globalised but I say development we accomplished divided us.

This fact tortures him. He couldn’t be with Eva though she was his heart, Mani couldn’t be with her when she was his palpitation. The divided world divided them — the hard truth of their life and the world. The two lives brought up in completely different cultures are well affected by the geographical diversity. He understands this for he could not open up himself thought he tried hard, but she from the different world simply kissed him saying, “A gift to you, my love.” He was always animated in her touch where as she accepted his caress as cool comforts. The effects of different cultures affected them.

He could not explain his deity worshipped in the form of male and female genitals, he turned off at erotic carving on the eaves of temples, the deities with erected penis. Contrarily she wisely pondered at the thoughtfulness of his people sanctifying the procreation. Clash of cultures and civilisation is also a matter of surprise, also an advent of new cultural trends. Eva and Mani were not simply displaying the relation of a male and female but forking a new path.

She talked of homosexuality and sexual emancipation and he sighed away. It was not that easy to talk about the happenings between a man and a woman, as easy it would be for her. One day she said, “Mani, there is a pain to be modern, you in developing society can never feel it, the sorrows and grieves. How we move on with all complexities, a wounded heart, and those howling thoughts.”

Yes, Mani can never imbibe how Eva is living, what’s her mental state like, what concepts and perceptions she got.  How could he understand the soreness of her society, where she was born, and brought up. He can’t understand the twinge given by the social order where a womb is hired and semen donated. He neither can imagine nor feel. How could he understand the relationship between Eva and her brother born from her father’s seed and mother’s eggs, but not in her mother’s womb. No, he can’t think about it.

Extra marital affairs, adultery, unwed mothers are also the happenings of his society but he cannot look into the ramifications. Eva’s mother married another man because she found out that her first husband was bisexual. How easily she said that. But he couldn’t let out any word about his secret family affairs, though she revealed everything about her.

Dejection raided him when knowing about her. Not only with him, pain and grief touch everyone. In no part of the world, in normal circumstances, one talks of melancholia and other laughs, one is talking of joy and another is mourning. So, Mani who loves Eva aggressively, her sufferings are his. Time and place may differ, people and situations may vary, but afflictions lives on. Ages have passed and have changed the outer world, but deep inside, man is the same being, for instance the things that makes Mani cry also makes Eva weep. Everything that prehistoric man cried for also gives misery to this modern man. Things abound have transformed but the root is the same. Even the petite thing makes the so called civilised man barbarous, he can be wild for trivialities. This is the primordial thing that never changed. He may be a civilized man today, but in fact, he is the same barbarous being of the Dark Age. Man can never sway away from his roots, many times he may act a poseur, may neglect or suppress the truth of his inner world, but finally the result is the same. Even the trifling thing brings out his true nature, can never slouch from himself. The outer world that is visible is an illusion, the features changes every moment but the inner world is alike. It doesn’t change.

Days and nights passed and they went to become closer, ever increasing chances of segregation. They both were aware of their condition but did not stop them and let their fate decide by the laws of their world. And finally the day of departure came. He kissed her timidly flushing every now and then, she touched him gently. There was nothing to be spoken, they had already let out their every voices. He had poured her into his vacant world, and she preened herself with his immense reality. They looked into each other’s faces for the last time. She went to join her world with his existence inside and he was left behind in his own with her elegance.

There was nothing to see in the sheer darkness. Mani got up and switched the lights, closed his eyes and breathed deep. In his profundity she smiled, twinkle in her eyes. Nothing was to be seen in the dark outside but in the room Eva was alighted in the very depth of Mani’s throb. Obscurity and the brightness plays hide and seek there. He from untruth to truth, from demise to immortality.

Chapter Six

The same time, the same place, they used to see each other. She would be going for her evening class, he was back from workplace. But then one day they accidentally met in a club. She was with her friends, all girls; he with his friends, all boys.

Few shots of tequila made them jolly. They talked, laughed, moved their hips. Just then it was a time to walk own roads, they hugged and suddenly they had a whim. They kissed. It was not a long passionate one but a kiss.

It was Valentine’s Day. He was feeling sick, there was nowhere to go for he could not remember any girls. Then suddenly she flashed in his mind. He had not seen her since that club sojourn. There she had said, her classes were coming to end. Two days later when he called on the number, which she said was hers, seemed to be the wrong one. He looked at the tissue, number written with red lipstick. He felt rejected.

And in Valentine’s Day morning he thought of her again.

He decided to Google. He followed couple of links and then finally in the facebook he searched for Sorrel Retchford, he tried to refine by adding New York. He was lost for almost an hour. Presumably, she had lied about her name. He was not easily giving up. He browsed into the homepage of the College she said she was doing MBA. He hit the right cord. There she was at what our students say section. Seeing her photo suddenly he felt, his heart stopped beating. But then her name was Andrea.

She accepted his invitation on the facebook immediately, he had not expected that. Why you lied, he wrote on her wall. Even more surprising was when she proposed to meet in some cozy place.

In the restaurant he asked, “What do you want to have, Andrea?”

She flipped the pages of the menu. “A bottle of red wine and…”

He looked at her, her strand of hair falling over the nose. He felt tightening on his chest.

“So,” she said.

“Will I see you again?” Was he going too far?

“No running away from you,” she chuckled.

Maybe they had begun to like each other.

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