Story : Me, She and Them

~Bikrant Koirala~Bikrant Koirala

I couldn’t be in time, is that some kind of grave sacrilege or serious apocalypse that I am to be blamed of. I called her and told, I had some work to do. And I was not lying or pretending. In the mean time I was about to set off, this ugly four eyed approached and looking through his thick glasses said passively, “Could you do this? It’s quite urgent.” I was mad at him, the moment he said that. But I had to do it, the ugly mean bastard, I always hated working under him.

It’s damn cold, and the crowd. As soon as the sun sets, all of a sudden, they all appear, a huge exodus. I wonder where were they hiding all the time and now emerging out as do the ants from their hole. The streets are full and the weak yellow vapor lamp, I can hardly see onto what thing will be my next step crushing over. It could be some broken glass pieces, or worse than it, spit, or mucous out from nostrils, or some freak’s recklessly thrown away condom filled with sperm. But, wasn’t her behavior cold enough, like this weather. Precisely, I would call it something in between rude and…, I don’t know the exact word, but more than rude would do just fine here. And it isn’t the first time that it happened. Last month, I recall, it was Friday, we had a sort of pact watching the 3-D movie and afterwards stripping off some flesh out of KFC’s chicken leg. But the same day, my friend’s friend had a motorcycle accident and he needed the same blood type that is seeping though my veins. Though she had to wait a couple of minutes (which I remember was exactly 24 minutes before I showed up) outside the Jai Nepal’s entrance, clutching the tickets in her hand. And, sadly we had to cancel our visit to KFC’s due to my dizziness, and I still wonder, was that due to my loss of blood or the aftermath of the 3-D experience ever for the first time, she took it quite coolly, no harsh words, no pretentious anger on her face. But today, it was off limits. I did try to explain her, the situation at my work, but she wouldn’t listen. Yes, I was forty or fifty minutes late but I don’t understand why she had to act that way. She was not outside in the cold, in fact, she was inside a cozy restaurant and sipping her coffee, waiting for me to arrive.

Still ten to twelve minutes of walk before I could reach the bus station and get into one and reach my house. The evenings are always crowded and the rush of people. I smell oranges; two boys are walking by my side, one carrying a bag full of oranges and other busy peeling one of them. While I am walking with the smell of refreshing oranges still attached on my nose, some intruder comes to mess with it; a strong smell of burning coal tar. At a distance, a group of workers are carrying out the job of patching up the road, marred with heavy traffic and the seasonal monsoon rain. I cannot figure out the connection till now but the smell of coal tar turns me nostalgic, takes me back again to the childhood, where I see myself playing with other kids in the same old familiar neighborhood. A man troubled by his boss at his work would definitely expect a warm greeting from his girl, a smile or perhaps some eloquent facial gesture, that would take away all his frustrations and fill him up with a desire to live his life enjoying the things around him. But, as I approached near the table, where she was sitting and drinking her coffee, she had the same pretentious anger on her face which I mentioned earlier. She didn’t talk to me for a moment or two and finally she burst out, “Why would you keep me waiting for so long?” I tried my best to calm her down. But she again said, “You know, I was embarrassed to sit here alone and wait.” And with a sip of coffee, she continued, “And all these men staring at me.” At that point, I was steered away from that specific situation to a wider scenario; I can understand girls getting annoyed and troubled when they are being stared but moving to the other end of the string, the same are gravely dissatisfied and troubled again for not being stared.

The bus isn’t full, and I am hasty as others to grab a seat. A relief from the walk outside in the cold. I know the bus isn’t going to move soon, not until it is more than full. A couple of boys play outside. Not the regular one, but the one looking dirty, wearing ragged clothes and sniffing glue from a plastic bag, masking their snouts with it. They are sniffing the stuff, probably to beat the cold or to ignore the hunger deep inside their stomachs, or may be to forget the sanity that never seemed meaningful to them. They all look innocent, which of course they are. But as they speak, they speak no soothing and comforting words. They speak black and bitter words, ‘street words’ to call it more precisely. The privilege of living in a house and learning a few decent social words is far from them. In the streets they play, they sleep and they dream. What was the fault of that waiter? He was just around us in case we needed anything, cautiously doing his duty and earning himself a living. I realized my mistake, and I accepted her anger and rudeness towards me. But that poor creature, what harm had he done to her? He blushed and was probably embarrassed when she contemptuously told him, “Why don’t you stand elsewhere while we are talking.” I felt sorry for him, wanted to apologize for her act, but I didn’t and now I think I should have. We didn’t talk much, just a bit of nig-nag. Afterwards, I stopped a taxi for her and moved my feet into the crowd, walking in the cold, under the weak yellow vapor lamp and towards the bus station.

(Source : Author sent it via ‘नयाँ रचना पठाउनुहोस्‘ functionality of this website. )

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