[Greetings! Hope everyone is doing great! There is NO plot in this story, because I feel themed stories like these take place in hundreds of houses every single day. A generic plot demands validations with vivid deskriptions, and the story essentially becomes a documentary. This is a case in point. Share with me if you could relate to the story.]
FROM KAAVRE TO THIMI
“Vauju… Vauju … Vauju,” a man in a light brown safari suit repeatedly yelled, restlessly peeking through the space between the main entrance hinge and the adjacent wall. Off to the right of the door, there hung a flat metallic blue plaque with the inskription: ‘Mangala Niwas’. Though he knew there was a scheduled load shedding in that area during that hour, unable to reign over his jitters, he impatiently pressed the doorbell that was mounted directly above the name plaque.
The hedges along the boundary wall and on top of the gate were quite dense. The man walked a couple of steps back to overcome the hedges, and then standing on his toes and angling his vision to the second floor balcony, he yelled one more “Vauju”, to no avail.
While he waited for the response, he drew a folded handkerchief from the left bottom pocket of his safari shirt that was open behind the flap. He unfolded the handkerchief and blew his nose four times. Each blow was more intense and lasted longer than the one before.
“Hatteri, I should have called them first,” he sighed a minor frustration when there was no answer from inside. The viscous fluid accumulated by his four blows had thickened the depth of the handkerchief. When he put the folded handkerchief back in his pocket, it looked as bulky as a pocket calculator.
“Walk to the ‘chok’ with me. We’ll have a cup of tea. We’ll try them again in half an hour.” He told a boy who silently stood next to him.
“There’s a woman walking to the window. Saahuni, I think.” The boy called the man who had already started walking towards the ‘chok’.
“There she is. What took her so long? … Don’t call her saahuni, call her muwa.”
“Is that you Chaitanya babu? I can’t see you from here. Someone needs to trim those bushes.” Mangala Devi opened the window of the living room and shouted.
“Namaskar,” Chaitanya said moving couple of steps back to make himself visible. “I thought nobody was home; I was about to leave. I’m with that Kaavre boy.”
“The gate isn’t locked. Insert your fingers, lift the latch and slide it to your right. Gaai paschha vanera chukkul adkaako maatra chha.”
After the boy opened the gate, they both walked up two flights of stairs. Before opening the screen door on the second floor that served as a barrier to flies and mosquitoes, Chaitanya meticulously demonstrated to the boy how to wipe feet on a coir scraper doormat. When the boy perfected the art of wiping shoes, Chaitanya instructed, “Take off your shoes and sit on the floor in that room.”
“Namaste muwa,” the boy politely paid his respect as he walked into the living room. Mangala Devi did not respond to his Namaste. She stood up, dashed towards where he was positioning to sit down and removed a cushion from the floor. “The ‘chakati’ is for the guests to sit. Sit there,” she pointed to the rug-less wood parquet area near the door.
Chaitanya followed the boy to the room. He sat on the sofa next to Mangala Devi. “Babu aaraamai?” Her tone was much softer and the demeanor more gracious, when Mangala Devi addressed Chaitanya.
“Life’s crawling one day at a time, I should say. Ajabholi aaraam ta Nepal maa kaslaai nai chha ra?” Like most adult Nepali males, Chaitanya somehow managed to link Mangala Devi’s customary ‘How are you’ to Nepal’s political situation.
“This room needs some fresh air. Let me open the window,” Mangala Devi stood up as soon as Chaitanya sat down.
The room was fresh enough. However, the odor from Chaitanya’s feet was not. His right toe that was sticking out of his torn red sock looked like it was trying to migrate to the outer world to breathe some pure Oxygen. Some parts of his socks, hardened by constant sweating, looked crispy.
When the fresh air from the cross-ventilation failed to dehumidify Chaitanya’s sweat, Mangala Devi made one more excuse to flee the aroma that had already percolated the room. “I’ll make some tea,” she said, practically jogging out of the room.
“Not much sugar on mine,” Chaitanya requested.
Fifteen minutes later, Mangala Devi came back to the room with a tray that held three cups of tea—two in porcelain cups on top of small porcelain plates, and the third one in ‘steel ko gilaas’.
“There are two plates on the dining table in the kitchen, go bring them,” she ordered the boy handing him the tea from the ‘steel ko gilaas’.
When the boy came back from the kitchen, Mangala Devi grabbed the plate on the boy’s right hand and put it next to Chaitanya’s cup. A piece of laddoo, a piece of barfi, some nimki, and three flat almond biscuits filled the plate. The second plate on they boy’s left hand only had two slices of plain bread and some nimki on it. Mangala Devi pointed to the second plate and said, “That’s for you.”
“Vauju, my blood sugar has been as high as it has ever been; I’ll only take some nimki.”
Mangala Devi did not force Chaitanya. She walked to the kitchen and came back with another plate of the same size, shape and brand. After removing the sweets from Chaitanya’s plate into the new plate, she asked the boy to take the new plate back to the kitchen. Even after Chaitanya declined, she did not offer the boy any sweets or biscuits.
“This is the boy.” After 20 minutes in the ‘Mangala Niwas’ living room, Chaitanya formally introduced the boy to Mangala Devi using a generic noun.
“What’s your name?” Mangala Devi asked. She had chosen the chair next to the window that was farthest from Chaitanya.
“Dhana Bahadur Magar.”
“How old are you?”
“I’m 15. I’ll be 16 in two months.”
“Who else is there in your family in Kaavre?”
“Just my father. I don’t remember my mother. They say she died when I was three.”
Mangala Devi did not waste time on a sympathy pause. “You have no siblings?”
“I have an older brother, but he’s been missing for three years now.”
“The rumor is he fled to India with their neighbor.” Fearing Mangala Devi might interpret his brother’s missing to him joining Maoists, Chaitanya tactfully added.
“What does your father do?”
Though Chaitanya knew that his answer to Mangala Devi stemmed out of frustration towards his father, he gave the boy a chafed look and warned, “Mind your manners.”
“He works as a loader.” Dhana Bahadur replied smiling. When he smiled, his small Magar eyes became practically invisible. Chaitanya winked at him behind Mangala Devi’s back when he saw that genuine grin on the boy’s face. The wink was an acknowledgement—that Chaitanya was aware of the boy’s falling out with his father because of his drinking.
“Did you run away from home?”
“His father knows he’s with me.” Baffled by his candor, Chaitanya edited the boy one more time.
“What made you run away?”
“I wanted to become a bus conductor.” Dhana Bahadur was amused by his own response. The other two were not.
“Are you always this clean?” Dhana Bahadur’s tidiness had confused Mangala Devi, who associated personal hygiene with family wealth.
His turquoise sleeveless shirt properly tucked under his olive green polyester pants, the boy looked quite neat. His nails were clean and trimmed. He had stylishly parted his short, shiny hair to the right. His teeth were white and straight. He had such a boyish freshness about him that his face shamed his age.
“In the village also I used to bathe everyday. My father calls me ‘nakkaley’. Malaai ta nuhaaena vane saarhai siksiko laagchha ke re.”
“You shave your face?”
“It will be another five years before I grow any moustache or beard. Haamro jaat ko eti sajilai daari jungaa kahaa aauchha ra?”
“How about schooling?” The entire time she talked to the boy, Mangala Devi held her cup near her nose. The savory smell of Brooke Bond Red Label tea helped her neutralize another smell in the room that belonged in the other end of olfactory spectrum.
“I can write my name in Nepali. Tyo gaai khaane vaasa ta aaudaina.”
“You think you can handle the chores around here? There’s a lot to do in this house. It’s a big house. You don’t look that well-built.” Mangala Devi finally said what had bothered her most. Dhana Bahadur was quite slender.
“When I used to work with my father, once I carried 75 kilos of unhusked paddy sack.”
“He’s bluffing,” Mangala Devi switched her stare to Chaitanya.
“I’ve seen him lift.” Chaitanya had never seen him lift, but he effortlessly lied to Mangala Devi’s face. “But why do you need lifting in this house?” Chaitanya laughed. Alone.
“Where’s your stuff?” Mangala Devi asked the boy ignoring Chaitanya.
“This is all I have.” Dhana Bahadur said showing a bag with long straps that slung across his upper body, from his left shoulder to the right hip. The bag made of hemp and cotton had ‘Namaste’ written on the front.
Apart from his neatness, Mangala Devi liked the fact that the boy looked portable. He came with no baggage. When she saw his bag, she understood that the boy had not seen much of material world, hence came with no expectation of what ‘Mangala Niwas’ offered him. His bare existence was his greatest skill, based on which he was hired.
After giving him the tour of the kitchen, outside of the pooja room, the bedrooms, the water tank, water-stealing pumps and the bathrooms, Mangala Devi took Dhana Bahadur to an odd-shaped bedroom on the ground floor and said, “This is your room. Keep it clean. Use the bathroom outside.”
When she left, Dhana Bahadur quietly explored the room. In spite of two windows with two panels each, the room felt dark and dingy inside. That was mainly because Santosh Maskey’s humongous house on the side was hardly 25 feet away from that room. On top of that, four tab-tops curtains that veiled each window panel were impervious to leftover light that beamed through the gap between Maskey’s house and the periphery wall.
On the floor, a mattress covered by a plain white bed sheet gave the room a gloomy, hospital-like feel. Foams inside the mattress, exposed by a four-inch wide gash on the side, resembled white tissues of tendons from a deep laceration. On top of the mattress, lay a colorful Nepali quilt, ‘Shirak’, and an ancient looking, non-flattening pillow. The purple pillow cover had patches of saliva stains so unsightly Dhana Bahadur instinctively turned the pillow upside down.
An old copy of ‘India Today’ magazine with Amartya Sen on the cover was on the other end of the floor. Next to the door that opened outside, on top of a wooden stool, Dhana Bahadur noticed a matchbox, a packet of coiled mosquito-repellent incense, and the cassette cover of ‘Marasim’ with the photos of Jagjit Singh and Gulzar.
A poster of Sai Baba next to the North-facing window, served as the sole wall decoration. At the bottom of the poster, someone had written “Thug Dhoti” in red ballpoint pen. A lizard crawled across the face of Sai Baba while Dhana Bahadur stared at the picture and audibly pondered, “Yo jagaltey ko photo sabaiko ghar maa ekuntaa kina jhundyaa hoon.”
There was nothing else in the room. Imitating Dhana Bahadur’s state of mind, the room echoed of nothingness. The boy had not expected a house like that to have a room like that. The room, however, was nothing like that two days earlier. After talking to Chaitanya on the phone, Mangala Devi had emptied the room in anticipation of Dhana Bahadur’s arrival. She was a minimalist when she was not a recipient.
Dhana Bahadur removed the bag from his shoulder and put it on top of the mattress. Then one by one, he started to take out his belongings from the bag.
He pulled out a shirt, two T-shirts, three pairs of socks, a pair of pajamas and a pair of pants and put them in the corner on top of ‘India Today’. He removed three pairs of clean but old Rupa underwear and looked around the room. When he did not find any safe place to hide his undergarments, he hid them underneath the mattress. Then he picked out a pair of Nippon Binoculars from the bag and placed them on the wall projection at the base of the window.
Finally, from the side pocket of his ‘Namaste’ bag, he took out an old photograph of a young woman with a two-year-old boy. At the back of the photograph, “Dhana Bahadur ra amaa” was written in pencil. He looked at the photo, wiped it with his shirt, shielded it with the cover of Jagjit Singh’s album and placed it next to his binoculars.
The 15-year-old boy had unpacked his entire assets that weighed 1.2 kilos in total. He did not own a single thing in the world besides what he pulled out from his bag.
“Dhaney, come upstairs!”
After unpacking, not knowing what to expect next, Dhana Bahadur had just sat down on the edge of the mattress, Mangala Devi called him using his new, derogatory nickname. Merely 57 minutes after entering ‘Mangala Niwas’, Dhana Bahadur was reduced to ‘Dhaney’. A minute later, he received his first official assignment. Mangala Devi needed two kilos of ‘Rahar ko Daal’ from ‘Laxmi ko pasal’ at the ‘chok’ near the bus stand.
“Dhaney! Get me a bucket of water. There is no water in the bathroom.”
“Dhaney! Run the water pump.”
“Dhaney! Get me some flowers for my pooja. It’s my fasting day. Make sure you wash your hands.”
Maskey family, who lived next to ‘Mangala Niwas’ heard those voices of Ashok, Sameer, and Mangala Devi every morning. Except for the fasting part. Fasting took place only on Mondays and Thursdays—and other holy days—and one time after Mangala Devi woke up from a bizarre nightmare in which one ‘Akhtiyaar Durupayog’ officer in ‘Dauraa Surwaal’ chased her husband, Kamal Nath, in the crowded street of Naya Baneswor.
Sameer, the eldest son of Kamal Nath and Mangala Devi, was a fair-minded liberal—and more importantly, an intelligent, rational man. He usually did not bother Dhaney once he heard the water pump running. Ashok, his younger brother, was a wholly different breed.
In the beginning, adjusting at ‘Mangala Niwas’ was a challenge for Dhaney. Even though there were only four people in the household, Mangala Devi and Ashok were too creative when it came to inventing projects for him. As time passed, however, Dhaney learned to weather their coldness by being more automated and less expressive.
Mangala Devi did not allow Dhaney near the gas stove when she cooked. That did not absolve Dhaney from the kitchen work nonetheless. Though he was not allowed to cook, his responsibilities included cleaning and cutting vegetables; peeling, slicing and grinding seasoning and condiments; chopping meat and fish; and bringing ‘chokho’ water for cooking directly from the tap downstairs. Amazingly though, once the food was put on the stove, he was not tolerated to touch the same stuff he cleaned and chopped. Dhaney never understood that logic, but he liked it. Being treated like an untouchable was one of the benefits he enjoyed in that house. At least when Mangala Devi was around, he did not need to cook. When she was out, Dhaney did everything else plus cooking.
Besides kitchen work, Dhaney ran household errands. He did dishes and washed clothes. He mopped the entire house every day. He worked on the backyard with Ramkrishney Jyapu and on the front yard with Subarna, the gardener. He massaged Ashok’s back almost every night. He worked seven days a week. He was on duty every hour he was awake. He had to be awake every second he was on duty. Escaping Mangala Devi’s prying eyes was easier than escaping the fear of being caught by those eyes. Evident in the shininess of the dishes he cleaned, Mangala Devi’s suspicions bred his thoroughness.
Dhaney woke up before everyone. After everyone on the dining table finished eating, he ate sitting down on the floor on a ‘pirkaa’. After making sure there was warm water for everyone, he bathed in cold water. When he washed clothes, he did not mix his clothes with anyone else’s. He did not eat from regular utensils; he had his own plate, made of brass—and a cup, made of stain-full steel. He stayed home and ate leftovers whenever the family left for a wedding reception, or for a ‘Saptaah ko pooja’.
In spite of all the hardship, when he went to bed at night, Dhaney did not remember anything worth missing from his recent memories of home. He wanted to miss his father and brother, but he did not know how. His caring father was so numbed by his brother’s disappearance that the intimate family of three had turned into the detached unit of one each. Every so often, when he felt helpless, he looked at the picture next to his binoculars and wished, “Why spare me cholera?” Dhaney talked to himself a lot.
Once he yelled his own name, because he wanted to feel, how it felt, not to be Dhaney.
Dhaney looked delighted when he opened the main gate and saw Meera, Jhukkyai and Sadhana. “Namaste dijju. Ke chha Jhukkyai naani ko haalkhabar?” He greeted the two in eldership sequence. He did not receive Sadhana verbally, but did so by blushing subtly.
“Dhana dai, this is for you.” Meera’s six-year-old daughter Jhaukkyai gave him a plastic Tiffin Box and quizzed, “Take a guess what I have inside.”
Dhaney took the box from Jhukkyai and said, “These are momos. Thaanku naani. Thaanku dijju.” Jhukkyai burst with gasps and titters when she heard Dhaney combine two English words and butcher them as one.
Meera said, “Those are from yesterday; I had saved some for you. Jhukkyai keeps on reminding us how much you love momo.”
“Jhukkyai naani always looks out for me.”
When Dhaney noticed Sadhana carry a heavy bag, he offered, “Let me carry that.” He then awkwardly grabbed the bag from her hand without looking at her face. Sadhana mimicked him: “Thaanku.” While he felt a tinge in his Nervous System, Meera and Sadhana laughed as loud as Jhukkyai. Dhaney glanced at Sadhana’s face and involuntarily flushed before voluntarily turning his eyes away.
Since she lived close to her ‘Maaiti’, Meera, the eldest daughter of Kamal Nath and Mangala Devi, visited ‘Mangala Niwas’ frequently. Sadhana was Meera’s helper. She was Dhaney’s age. Jhukkyai, whose real name was Arya, was Meera’s youngest of the two daughters. When Meera was pregnant with Jhukkyai, pregnancy experts like Sabitri Saano mami, Sarswati fupu, Lainchaur ko bajai and Meera’s mother-in-law; all believed that she was having a baby boy. They had based their prediction on the shape of Meera’s tummy that was wider at the top. When Jhukkyai was born, everyone was disappointed—the immediate family was disappointed because they wished for a son—and others were disappointed because their prediction was wrong.
One evening when Arya was only three months old, after oil massaging her, Meera’s mother-in-law lifted the little baby, kissed her forehead, then patted her back to make her burp and jokingly said, “Chhoraa hunchha vaneko ta esley haamilai Jhukkyai.” That is how she became Jhukkyai. Nobody called her Arya since.
“Dhaney, take the stuffs out from the bag and give it back to me. We’re going shopping afterwards.” Meera was talking about the bag Dhaney had grabbed from Sadhana.
After emptying the bag, when Dhaney went to the living room to return it, out of the blue, Ashok asked him, “Who gave you those binoculars?”
“I bought that from a laahure’s son in the village.”
“Why would he sell that to you?”
“He was a drug addict. He always needed money.”
“How much did you pay?”
“Two hundred fifty rupees.”
“Where did you get 250 rupees?”
“I used to work with my father. I used to do loading unloading.”
“You could have spent the money on something more useful.”
“When I was a kid my father used to tell me that my mother had become one of the stars in the sky. Maybe that’s why I love watching stars. But you’re right Ashok dai; I should have spent the money on something else.”
“Bring it over to me. Let me see if it’s any good.”
When Dhaney ran downstairs to get his binoculars, Meera asked her younger brother, “What was that interrogation about?”
“Did you hear about the burglary at Maskey’s house?”
“What’s that got to do with Dhaney’s binoculars?”
“Nothing. I got alarmed. It’s normal to be alarmed when there’s a burglary next door.”
“Dhaney has been here for months now. And you’re running a background check on him because someone stole a VCR from Maskey’s house? … Are you really this evil?”
“Frankly, I don’t get it why you’re overreacting Meera di. I just want to make sure he didn’t steal those binoculars before he came to our house. We don’t know his past. We took Chaitanya kaka’s words at face value. We all know he is ‘gafaadi’ number one.”
“And you’re a good judge of character.” Profoundly annoyed, Meera said sarcastically.
“Not all poor people are thieves Ashok dai,” the straight-talking Sadhana added.
Ashok was enraged when he heard a domestic helper voice her opinion. He was not progressive enough to allow that level of freedom of speech in his realm. But Meera handled the situation before Ashok insulted her helper. “Sadhana, go make some tea.”
“Dhana dai does not steal Ashok mama. He found 20 rupees on the road, he gave it to hajurma.” Jhukkyai testified as a witness.
“That’s what he gave mami. How do you know he only found 20 rupees?”
“Don’t feed that cynicism to my daughter. You don’t even know how to talk to a six-year-old. You’re a lump.”
Dhaney walked to the room and gave Ashok the binoculars. “You can keep it Ashok dai, I hardly use it.”
“You can’t see Dhana dai’s mother with that thing Ashok mama. Dhana dai says she has to be in your heart to see her.” Jhukkyai cautioned her mama. Little did she know that her mama was only interested in watching Dhaney through his own binoculars.
“Kukur! How many times did I tell you not to enter the pooja room?” Mangala Devi furiously screamed at Dhaney.
“Muwa you asked for flowers. I was just delivering them. You were not there. So…”
“So you have done it in the past too?”
“I swear on my mother I never entered the Pooja room until today.”
When he heard the commotion in the corridor, Sameer came out of his room. “Mami this noise is only acceptable if Dhaney accidentally ate Maskey’s dog. If that’s not what happened, you’re overreacting.”
“I walked into the pooja room. I was not thinking.” Dhaney answered before Mangala Devi. When he talked to Sameer, Dhaney usually made an eye contact. But he was so angry, confused and apologetic; he did not bother to look at Sameer’s face.
“And how is that a big deal?” Sameer’s voice did not have a rising inflection that comes with a question. Because he knew why that was a big deal for his mother.
“Stay out of this,” Mangala Devi waggled her finger at her son. “He’s been told not to enter that room.”
“So he forgot. Big deal, mami. He did not pee in the pooja room, did he? Did you pee there?” Dhaney was too guilt-ridden to laugh at Sameer’s farce.
“Shut up fool. Paapi. Why do you care? You don’t even believe in god.”
“It is so unfair of god to give sense to only those who don’t believe in him.”
“Don’t act smart with me. You don’t believe in god because it requires some effort.”
“I believe in believing that there is something beyond me that I’m not supposed to understand. If that is god, I’m sure he is meant to be felt, not to be interpreted.”
Sameer began rationally, but when he saw his mother ignore him, he chose to trivialize her faith to get her attention. “But mami you act as if you know your god. You seem to know that your god will feel defiled if Dhaney gets near him. Even for a drug addict that he was, I don’t think Mahadev was that small-minded. Now I think about it I think I believe in him more than you do.”
“You ‘adharmi’. No wonder your friends made it to America and you were stuck in Pulchok Campus. You pay for your blasphemy. You have no beliefs.”
“God played no role in their admissions. For six months, they worked their senses off, preparing for that stupid SAT. I chose not to. Memorizing those stupid English words that I’ll never use in life, is as stupid as chanting your god mantra. The way I see it, it’s all ‘om namo sivaya’. Not everyone has to do what everyone else does.”
“Invest your talent in ambitions, not excuses. Nobody has ever questioned your talent.” The mother fired back calmly. Mangala Devi was a smart woman; she knew what hurt her son most. When the son did not respond, she bragged, “I think I touched a nerve.”
Visibly crushed, Sameer stood near the screen door and watched his mother dial a number. At the Tribhuvan airport, he had the same look on his face when he watched his friends board the Lauda Air.
“Halloo.” The greeting from the other end was so loud, Sameer, who was ten feet away from the telephone, figured out it was their family priest on the line.
“You’ve got to be kidding me mami.” Sameer knew why she had called the priest. Revolted by his mother’s action, he returned to his room. Dhaney had long fled the scene.
“I’ve told that nitwit a dozen times not to enter there.” The guru reacted when he heard Dhaney’s crime.
“Do we need to do something?” Mangala Devi sounded quite stressed out by the crisis.
“Spray some ‘soon paani’ in the pooja room. Did he touch the idols too? If that’s the case I need to be there, we need to cleanse with a ritual.”
“Hold on, I’ll ask him,” said Mangala Devi before hollering, “Dhaney, come here quick.”
When Dhaney came upstairs, she asked him, “Did you touch any of the idols?”
“I didn’t. I put the flowers on the ‘Thaali’ next to ‘Kalash’ and came back.”
“Swear on your mother.”
“Aamaa ko kasam.”
The priest who had heard the exchange said, “We’re fine then. Do this … dip one of your pure-gold rings in some pure water; spray the water in the pooja room everywhere. Repeat it three times. Then do the usual pooja and close the pooja room for the day.”
When she hung up on the priest, Mangala Devi went to the pooja room and grabbed ‘Paali Panchapatra’ that lay next to the sacred book of ‘Hanuman Chalisa’. She gave Dhaney the ‘Panchapatra’ and said, “Fill this up with pure water. Don’t use your left hand.”
The pooja room was eventually sanctified using a pure-gold ring and some pure water. Then again, the ring was only 22 Karats, and the water in ‘Panchapatra’ was filled up by the impure boy who had contaminated the pooja room in the first place.
Dhaney was hurt, Sameer felt side effects, but god was treated. When it was all said and done, nobody was cured. Only Sameer saw the scar on Dhaney. His SAT expert friends would have called that a cicatrix; while not always appropriate, it is a bigger word than ‘scar’.
Kamal Nath, who looked half-asleep and smelled of fermented barley, walked into the living room where Sameer was relaxing after treating cold with ‘Jimmu-paani’ vapor steam. Fearing his son might say something about its continuous expansion, when he sat down, Kamal Nath intentionally folded his hands on his belly. Sameer glanced at his father and silently disapproved of his lifestyle.
“Ramesh … Ramesh,” yelled Kamal Nath.
“Who are you calling?” Sameer sounded appalled. He knew what his father meant.
Before and shortly after the revolution of 1990, Kamal Nath used to work as ‘Lekhaa Adhikrit’ in Raastriya Baanijya Bank—the position was equivalent to ‘Section Officer’ in the government. The revolution brought a revolution in his life. He quit the bank in 1991 and started a garment factory with Ishwor Raj, to whom he used to be a loan officer. It was a textbook alliance. Kamal Nath wished to upgrade his life and Ishwor Raj needed someone who knew ‘kaangresi’ leaders. Thirteen years later, Kamal Nath had no idea how much money he had made, and how exactly he made all that money.
Kamal Nath was a good family man when king Birendra was an absolute monarch. When he entered the business macrocosm as a larva, nobody expected such a complete metamorphosis. In the habitat, that was created by Ishwor Raj and safeguarded by his ‘Kaangresi’ partisans, in his pupa stage itself, Kamal Nath developed greed cells while losing fear-causing morality cells. Upon his mentor’s incitement, once he switched from ‘Surya’ to ‘Dunhill’ and from ‘Blue Riband Gin’ to ‘Chivas Regal’, there was no turning back for Kamal Nath.
Once he started frequenting ‘Nanglo Café & Pub’ with Ishwor Raj, Kamal Nath started missing what used to be mandatory family dinners and optional Zee TV session that followed the dinner. When he missed ‘Swasthaani ko kathaa’ for the first time; that became a big issue with his family. However, when he missed it two more days in a row, the family stopped expecting him. By 9 PM, whether Kamal Nath made it or not, Mangala Devi started reading loudly how and where Sati Devi’s private parts fell off while the mad Mahadev walked around the world carrying her decomposing corpse.
In a short time, Kamal Nath had learned, how not to curb what he was capable of desiring. When his ambitions became his addictions, needs became his virtues. He became so materialistic that he would buy stuffs and then learn their uses. Slowly he dropped all of his responsibilities at home, except the one of a provider. As time passed, for every awaken hour he spent at his house, Kamal Nath spent two at Ishwor Raj’s residence—either playing Marriage, or catering politicians, or both.
“Tongue slip.” Kamal Nath jokingly used broken English in defense, when he realized he had shouted Ishwor Raj’s helper, Ramesh’s name, when he meant Dhaney.
“Baba there was a time when you had so little to give us, but you gave us enough by being around.” Sameer was already angry with his father because two nights earlier, Kamal Nath had missed Meera’s eldest daughter, Ria’s birthday party. By forgetting Dhaney’s name, he had added an entry to the long list of existing grievances.
“You think I’m doing all this for myself?”
“Oh, are you doing this for your legacy? I was not aware you want your absence to be your legacy. We sure will miss you then, for all the time we have not spent together, and for all the memories that we don’t share.” Sameer had a fever that day. He carried surplus emotions when he got sick.
“Buwa, did you call me?” Dhaney appeared in the room.
“Respect yourself, boy. Your name is all you have. Did you hear baba call your name?” Sameer took it on Dhaney.
“I heard ‘Ramesh’, I figured,” Dhaney smiled.
“There’s a big package in my room, take that to Ria.” Kamal Nath asked Dhaney.
“I sure will. Sameer dai don’t forget to take your medicine. Buwa, would you like a cup of tea before I take the package to Meera dijju’s place?”
When Dhaney went to make tea, Sameer told his father, “I seriously don’t enjoy being disrespectful, but it pains me to see that you just can’t figure anything out on your own.”
“I feel terrible I missed my grandchild’s birthday. Don’t bring the past issues, but in this context, tell me what have I not figured out?”
“You need to take that package to Ria, not Dhaney.”
Mangala Devi served herself two spatulas full of rice on a beaded, steel meal plate. Then she put a generous portion of ‘Lauka ko tarkari’, some fried ‘Karelaa alu'
Final Part: http://sajha.com/sajha/html/index.cfm?threadid=45714