Monday, April 21, 2014 09:40 AM

Going home

DEC 23 -

They return too.

From the public garden, Mr Chettri is busy observing the scene and tells his old wife, “Don’t you think that scene is right out of a cheap love story?”

“It is boring, yeah...,” Mrs Chettri replies. “Don’t forget how you used to do the same when we were young, though… You’ve become forgetful.”

Mr Chettri has been trying to gather up the courage to tell his wife that their pension has ceased. He worked hard for 40 years as a

government official, but his recent investments in the stock market have robbed him, almost ripped him off, to be honest. He is now at a critical point in life, and does not know

how to tell his wife all this. Mrs Chettri, on the other hand, knows

all about the situation, and is

doing her best to stop her husband from voicing, what he thinks, is

their critical predicament. Mrs Chettri has a hefty account saved up in the bank, a health insurance that should easily cover the medical expenses for both husband and wife, and is waiting to tell him this on his birthday. She wants this knowledge to be a surprise to him.

•••

Later that evening, Biswas stays at home while Nirmal leaves for some pub in Durbar Marg. Biswas never drinks, and Nirmal is out to meet his secret lover Nisha. There’s a knock at the door, but Biswas does not respond. A sense of urgency is evident in the knocks that follow, and so he finally responds:

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, Prakriti.”

“What do you want from me this late? Go home and sleep.”

“I need to talk about something important.”

Biswas stares at the curtains. They’re swirling gently in the

monsoon wind, the pale moonlight reflecting on their bright blue

surface. He wishes the rain would never stop.

“I cannot let you in.”

“You must.”

“I have a terrible headache.”

“Stop making excuses. Now open the door, for Christ’s sake.”

He surveys the dark clouds, and dwells on the splendour of black, for a moment. After a few seconds, he opens the door. The sight of Prakriti, in a gorgeous red gown, arouses him. He controls himself and whispers, “What on earth are you doing here? Are you out of your mind?” Prakriti pushes her beautiful waves towards her back, revealing the smooth brownness of her shoulders.

“You’re out of my league, missy. We broke up a long time ago, and we’re supposed to have moved on. I might still have feelings for you, but I’m done with all of this.”

As Prakriti bends towards him, her soft breasts seem to almost

beckon Biswas. He slams the door in rage, and fumes: I hate her. I want to swear, but I cannot.

Prakriti yells from outside the door, “You moron! Who do you think you are? I love you, and you know this. How can you treat me this way?”

Rain. Tears. Biswas cannot distinguish the two.

He is moved by something, somehow, and opens the door.

Prakriti is sobbing, her makeup has been washed away from her face in a terrible avalanche of false colour. Biswas holds her in his arms.

He takes her in, and tries to

placate her.

Prakriti is silent for a while, and then speaks. “We broke up, but I’ve never stopped loving you, you know. I’m yours, and only yours.”

“I understand…” replies Biswas. “But I’m engaged to another girl. She loves me a lot, and I cannot betray her. I hope you understand.”

Prakriti replies, almost soliloquses as she says, “I’ll bring you down, one day or the other.” She looks at Biswas, and tells him. “It’s all right. I understand. I’m leaving now, but you know you’re in my heart, don’t you?”

As Prakriti leaves, her body drenched by rain, and her eyes sore from crying, Biswas starts scribbling the name of his fiancé, Ruth Houghton, on the window.

The phone rings. It’s Ruth on the other side.

“Hello sweetheart, I was just

writing your name on my window, you know. I miss you. How are you?”

“I’m good. I just wanted to say hi. I’m too busy with work, and needed a good conversation. I miss you too.”

“How’s your work with the press and the gurkhas going on? Has the settlement procedure finally been resolved?”

“It’s a lengthy process. Quite a hassle, I must say. Still, some progress is being made, and I’m doing okay… Did I tell you that Mr Rai’s been asking about you, by the by? I told him you’re gone home to ‘settle some issues’.”

“Thanks darling. You’re the best, you know. I’ll get home soon love.”

“We should Skype soon… Saturday night?”

“Okay, love. We’ll talk then.”

The next morning, Biswas and Nirmal head towards their home in Baneshwor. Their vehicle moves slowly in the terrible traffic until they’re stopped by a traffic

policeman at Kupondole.

“Why did you overtake the

micro bus?”

Nirmal, who has had more

experience dealing with such situations, answers politely, “Sir, our grandmother is sick. We’re rushing to Baneshwor to meet her.”

“Don’t make up such stories. Do I look like a fool to you?”

“Believe us, Sir, we’re telling you the truth. Please let us go.”

Biswas looks across the Bagmati Bridge.  He is irritated by this

intervention. “Let’s pay him,” he tells Nirmal.

Nirmal glares at him, as he responds, “Are you out of your mind? We shouldn’t encourage such behaviour, all right?”

Biswas, however, seems to be in no mood for deliberation and

hands over a hundred rupees to the traffic police.

“Well, well. So you think I can be bribed?” he says. Still, he looks around, quickly snaps the note

from Biswas’s hand and tells them

to get going.

“Wow, that was close,” says Nirmal. “Your instinct is rather remarkable.”

“Nothing is sustainable in

this country, my friend, except

corruption.”

The two share a moment

of laughter as the car heads

toward Baneshwor.

As they reach the house, Grandma shouts at the two boys from the roof. “Look who’s here! My grandson and his friend!”

The main door opens, and the two friends are given a warm

welcome by the old lady. She lives alone in this big old house with only a few helpers.

As Grandma hugs them, tears well up in her eyes. Biswas

wipes these away while Nirmal

rubs her back.

Grandma then points toward the sofa and says, “Sit down now. Tell me, how was your journey, Biswas? And is your company running well, Nirmal? Tell me everything.”

“The journey was perfect,” says Biswas. “Ruth is doing fine too.” (His grandmother chuckles when she hears him say this.) “I’ve finished my studies, and am travelling around, trying to understand a few things.”

Grandma drinks her salt tea while she waits for Nirmal to speak. “The company is running well,” he says. “I’ve been faring quite well, I should say. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’m dong it, somehow.”

•••

All throughout June, the two men had discussed the prospect of expanding their business. Biswas though, had had something entirely different on his mind this entire time.

For six months, Biswas had been searching for the meaning of

existence, of his existence to be particular.

Was he straight, gay, bi-sexual or…?

Posted on: 2012-12-23 08:52


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