96. Fiction: Motti didi ko bhatti – IV

blood-knife

One evening, to her surprise, Maiya found her English sir in the bhatti, gulping down rakshi and chewing choyala baji. “Oh ho, good evening sir”, Maiya greeted him the way she greeted him in the school. “Welcome to our little bhatti. Eh aama, hamro English sir”, she called out to Motti didi, stressing on English.

Motti didi was busy cooking buff chowmien for other customers. She turned her head towards Maiya, smiled and said, “la la sir lai ramro sanga satkaar gara”.

He chomped a big piece of bara and swallowed it down with the soup. “Motti didi”, he patted Maiya’s shoulder, “tapai ko chhori ekdam ramri chhey”. The ambiguity of ‘ramri’ hung silently in the room as he kept holding on her shoulder, “ekdam ramri chhey”.

He swallowed one last glass of rakshi and staggered up on his feet. The sweet jhyaap of rakshi made him slightly silly. “You know Maiya, I didn’t know this was your bhatti”. In a rakshi induced British accent he said, “From now on, you know, I’ll be a regula: costuma:” Her eyes glowed like a star, she smiled and said, “bholi pani aaunus na, you will have my special treatment”. May be it was the rakhsi. May be it was her smile. English sir wanted to hold Maiya’s hands, dance with her and listen to her melodious voice, again and again. An orgasmic sensation erupted in English sir’s head. He couldn’t wait for tomorrow.

~ ~ ~

English sir had always been searching of inner peace. He tried everything. Meditation was the obvious choice. He found that it was not really his plate of momo. He tried marijuana. It just made him more lethargic. He tried reading Zen stories. They were too short. He tried reading Osho. It sounded so fake.

Teaching was just a way to remain away from home, kill the time and pass the days. The students were always brats. Beating them was fun but it was not allowed in the school anymore. There were rules. And everyone talked about ‘rights’. Once, he had pinched hard on the soft bicep of a girl for not doing homework. He felt a strange emotion rushing through his veins. He had never felt such sensation. The pain. Her muscles. His hand. He found his soul, after a long time, closer to inner peace. A realization dawned upon him – it was the reason he was meant to be a teacher.

From that moment, he just wanted to touch young girls. He would stroll around the class, patting the shoulders, squeezing the arms and caressing the backs of the girls – stealing divine ounce of inner piece. He never touched Maiya, though. It was as if he could sense subconsciously that she was holy, and that she was not meant to be provoked.

Everything changed after their encounter in the bhatti last night.

~ ~ ~

So, there he was again in the bhatti next evening… searching for inner peace.

Motti didi was delighted to see him come again, and so was Maiya. All three exchanged smiles. She quickly sat him on a chair and cleaned the table. As Maiya set the table with a plate of gidi fry and soup, she let him fondle her hand without any resistance. English sir closed his eyes and savored the moment.

The evening slipped away to welcome an unpleasantly cold night. One by one, the drunk and semi-drunk customers paid money to Motti didi and wobbled out of the bhatti, whistling and singing dohori songs. English sir too wanted to get up and go home. But the desire to attain absolute inner peace overpowered his idea of going home. The night thickened, and English sir was the only one left. He could open up to Maiya now. “What’s the special treatment you talked about last night?” He asked Maiya as he slithered his right arm around her hips. “Have some patience sir,” she replied filling in his glass with rakshi.

Motti didi lighted a bunch of incense and suggested her daughter, “Sir lai kotha ma liyera jaa na ta”. Did he hear it right? He was not sure. He felt quite helpless when Maiya held his arm and gently whisked him through the kitchen into the back room. The delicate fragrance of incense followed them.

“This is a surprise”, he pondered and looked with curiosity around the dimly lit room. Maiya breathed into his ear, “Why don’t you relax for a while, I’ll arrange the inner peace for you”. Surprised and confused, he asked, “How do know about it?” without demanding any explanation. “I know what you have been looking for all these years, sir”, she said – the last word ‘sir’ lingered in the air.

One could say that there was something saintly about Maiya’s smile. It was so ominous, so poisonous. She blushed with the same smile when English sir slid near to her, and put his arm around her shoulder. She was waiting for him to make the first move. She turned toward him and gazed deep into his eyes. Her lips hissed, “I want to have you”, her eyes whispered, “I want to taste you”. She kept staring at him, but it was not her dreamy gaze that made him twitch – it was the sharp knife which she shoved behind his back. Muffled grunts and uneasy groans bellowed out of the teacher’s mouth. She twisted the knife… slowly and then hugged him like a mother hugs her new born child.

“Did you just stab me?”

“Yes sir.”

“With a knife?”

“Yes sir.”

Dizziness took over him and everything around him slowed down in a blurry circular motion. It was a very strange feeling, a perfect blend of stinging pain and pure exhilaration. He had never felt it before. He moaned:

“Am I bleeding?”

“Yes sir.”

“Am I going to die?”

“Yes sir.”

“Stop yes sir-ing me?”

“Sssssss… don’t speak, sir.”

She enjoyed their little intimate chit-chat but it was time for the kill. She grabbed a rusty iron rod and jabbed it through his neck. The teacher jerked violently but Maiya wrapped him in her iron-grip. He had never imagined that death would be so slow and so painful. He moved his lips, trying to say something but only bloody gurgles gashed out of his mouth.

Maiya peered into his eyes. There were a few curious yet terrified WHYs questioning back at her. “This is your inner peace, my dear sir”, she murmured into his ear and yanked out the dripping rod from his bleeding neck. His blood squirted all over her body, on the walls and on the floor. When Maiya finally released him from her embrace, he slumped down on the floor and slumbered off into darkness, his wide cold eyes screaming deceit and betrayal.

Maiya felt bad for a moment as she watched her English teacher turn into a lifeless meat. She will miss him, especially his usual rant – Tooooo much halla became, all body keep quite!!! She smiled a little remembering how he used to shout and sweat in the class, and how he used to walk around touching and fondling girls. “Enjoy your eternal peace,” she mumbled and closed her eyes.

When she opened her eyes, Motti didi was already on her knees besides the warm corpse. Lest it might get cold, she too joined in. Tonight, they would slice it up and consume it piece by piece, muscle by muscle.

95. Fiction: Journalist with a Conscience

thamel

Manish felt a sudden rush of thrill as he sneaked into a ‘nude’ dance bar for the first time. The bar was the most happening joint in Thamel. It was dark, noisy, full of smoke – but warm. There were men – young and old but mostly rich old men with bald head, thick mustache and bulging belly – smoking, drinking and dancing to sleazy Bollywood music.

Manish settled on a table and ordered chilled beer. For a few seconds, his face shrunk low with shame and guilt. What if my wife finds out about this? But he quickly shrugged off the feeling as he gloated over a semi nude girl dancing on the ramp, just ten feet in front of him. She seemed so surreal and so near. Seeing her, Manish got so luridly excited that he longed to caress her creamy skin. He wanted to know her, he wanted to be with her, he wanted to have her.

But there he remained at a distance, sipping Gorkha beer and munching on sukuti. As if for reassurance, he reminded himself – I am a journalist not a sick pervert. In the morning, his editor had told him to hunt for the ‘sensational news’ and he had set out on the grand mission to unearth Thamel’s shady skin business. As an investigative journalist, it was his first night, first bar and first nude dancer. And there she was, his first subject, dancing like a goddess of fire.

He ordered more beer and sukuti. The young girl turned into a luscious apsaraa, leaving the men gaping at her in trance. They started spraying elephants to her and the bar erupted into drunken chaos. The beer (and her dance) began playing havoc in his mind, but even in that helpless state, he visualized a juicy storyline along with a catchy headline. He fished out his trusted Nikon Coolpix from his pocket, turned off the flash and secretly took a snap of her. Nobody noticed. Nobody cared. This story is going to make me famous – his grin was as wide as Tundikhel.

It was already 11.45 pm when Manish lumbered out of the bar. He waved for a Maruti taxi and slumped into the back seat. Jawalakhel. 500 rupiya dinus hai. la la. The taxi whizzed off. He took out the camera to preview her photo. He got quite thrilled that even without any flash, the shot had come out pretty sharp. But something made him look deep into her face. His eyes instantly turned misty and fluttered with discomfort.

He noticed her dry smile. It had sad old stories – untold and unresolved. And, her frozen eyes. They had depressing nightmares – concealed and repressed.

It started raining miserably. The rain drops spattered on the windowpane, and he felt his career aspirations crashing hard against his morality. I’m not like them, he shook his head, no I’m not like those cheap ass journalists. It was below his dignity, beyond his philosophy. And it was too yellow for his taste. So he pressed ‘delete’ button on the camera, the only right thing to do. A message popped up for confirmation – Yes or Cancel. He hesitated. What about the glory I deserve?What about the glory she deserves? He began to swing awkwardly in and out of the piercing dilemma.

While the indecision was shredding his conscience into pieces, the taxi ran over a pothole and his thumb inadvertently pressed ‘Yes’.

94. Five Books That ‘Changed’ My Life

Here’s another “Five books that changed your life” series I did with my teacher Hem Raj Kafle. This one is for the NELTA Choutari blog.

I hope to read those books some day 🙂

Nelta Choutari

Hem Raj Kafle

‘Change’ is not my word in the title above, but I agree to use it. Do books change our lives? Someone said it is the reader who has the potential to change; the book only triggers that potential. And one who does not have that potential does not respond to the trigger. I agree to this, too.

But I am not here to present a thorough appreciation of ‘five classics’. Not that I avoid reading classics, but I am willing to write about those books that have told me their actual worth.  Each of the five books came to me almost ‘out of nowhere’ and left a lasting message. Not that any of them should ever satisfy your intellectual need if you someday decide to read.  I write here simply because I have deemed them contributory to my own growth as a teacher. An English teacher.

I…

View original post 1,492 more words

93. Fiction: Happy Valentine’s Day

The_Rose_and_the_Knife_by_Rosenkreutz

He gave her a bunch of red rose
Extolled her beauty in poems and prose
“I will take you for a sweet ride
Forever from this city we will hide”

Never had she felt loved like this
A harlot she was, now full of bliss
“My lord, take my soul, take my heart
From this city, let me do part”

He locked the room from inside
Never she screamed, nor she cried
He tenderly stabbed her in the spine
“For you my love, my valentine”

The blood drained, the rose faded
The tears dried, the heart wilted
He cleaned the knife, and walked away
So long… till the next Valentine’s Day

Inspired by: Robert Browning

Pic: http://rosenkreutz.deviantart.com/art/The-Rose-and-the-Knife-94444570

92. Fiction: Motti didi ko bhatti – III

lagankhel

Maiya occasionally felt terribly insecure for the way she was. Her mother had told her to be proud. “Acceptance will keep you and the world happy and sane. Just understand that you are unique, we are unique”. She repeated whenever Maiya felt lost in despair and self-doubt. Despite Motti didi’s warm assurance, Maiya sometimes longed to be normal. Normal like those people coming in their bhatti, and normal like those teenagers in her school.

Her school was just two minutes south off their bhatti in Lagankhel. Since it was a public school, most her classmates of Grade Nine were also from a low middle-class family. But she didn’t have many friends. In fact, she had just one – Kali. That’s the way she kept it. More friends could mean more trouble.

Kali came from Patan. She was not so beautiful and not so slim either. And she was kali. But Kali amused Maiya to death because she uttered dirty words every six words after. She would even throw dirty words at the boys in her amusing Newari accent. oii myampakha herow bhayera lyako hwoo? That would silence most of those sukulgundas whistling at her, or smacking their tongue at Maiya. Kali was protective of her, like an elder sister. Maiya, at times, imagined devouring Kali. It’s not like she hadn’t eaten ‘friends’ before. Kali would make delicious Haku Choyala.

Maiya didn’t like the school but she enjoyed the time away from bhatti. Every thing about this school amused her. The building reminded her of the cowshed they had in the village. Only a little bigger. The playground in the middle of the school was full of pebbles and dust – no grass. Blaring noise from the nearby bus park was an extra feature.

Their classroom was smelly, dark and had no window. Just one door. Tin roof wasn’t a relief, either. The teachers were hilarious, especially the English sir. And the students, all 17 of them – they were riot. No one could tame them. Even the girls were pretty wild. The English teacher would rap / rap / rap the desk with a wooden duster and shout deliriously. Tooooo much halla became, all body keep quite!!! This was his favourite line. The students would giggle and remain silent for the next 20 seconds. Then, much to the teacher’s agony, the riot would continue. He would furiously grate his teeth: only if the school allowed corporal punishment like in the old days. I would tear the skin out of these brats. Maiya and Kali enjoyed seeing English sir fume and perspire.

Then, there was Junu miss, simply known as Social miss. She was rather a pitiable sad creature. She never got mad at the students. Her voice was soft as flour, her plump body pale as pumpkin. She was five foot two but looked even shorter in her stubby legs. Her shoulders lurched visibly with years of pain and rejection. She was over 90 kilos, almost 35 and unmarried.

Maiya could spot the grief Junu miss carried in her hollow eyes. Those forsaken eyes were hungry for love, hungry for relationship. When she entered the classroom, her shawl would sweep along a gust of sorrow and frustration. Her parents didn’t love her. Her relatives talked behind her back – look, budi kanya! She would stand in the middle of the classroom, reading slowly from the book… word by word. The students barely heard her but that was her style. And all the while, her body posture and facial expressions would scream… she didn’t want to be breathing anymore… she didn’t want to be feeling anymore.

Kali noticed Maiya meditatively staring at Junu miss. “She probably feels pity for the poor creature”, Kali thought. You really like Junu miss, don’t you? Yes I do. Unbeknownst to others, Maiya had been brewing plans for Junu miss. Ninety kilos would be like god’s perfect blessing. Flesh and bones, enough for a month. But Maiya needed to wait – wait patiently and painfully till her next menstruation.

Unlike ordinary people, they were shackled by their own sacred rules. And her mom was rabidly religious about them. The killings were to be done only within the four auspicious days of bleeding. Otherwise, it counted as a fatal sin, a mortal transgression. And worms from the underside would crawl up to consume them.

Part II

Part I

91. Fiction: Clouds

cloud

Suman breathed a sigh of happiness as he started counting the clouds. It was a perfect Falgun day. The air was warm. A few fluffy clouds were swimming here and there in the wide open sky. The fleeting clouds reminded him of his father… and how his father has changed lately after his mom ran away with a night-bus driver.

For the last couple of years, his father had been living on alcohol. His normal routine was – get drunk in a bhatti, come home late, and sleep on the floor. Suman’s mom would be hitting him with a broomstick (sometimes with a daadu), throwing hurtful profanity at him and making the lousy neighbours shut their windows. Her usual scathing rant – I made a big mistake marrying this son of a poor man. How I wish I had listened to my parents when they told me afno khutta ma aafai le bancharo na haan chhori. She would pound her forehead with her palm and moan… why did I fall for his stupid romantic poems?

Now, with mom not around anymore, Suman could see his father transforming into a better man, a better father. His father even gave up drinking. It was a beautiful metamorphosis. As Suman counted the fluffy clouds swimming here and there, he tightly hugged his father and said, “buwa, please write a poem about clouds”.

90. Analysis: The Parrot in the Cage

lekhnath

Applying Formalism perspective to “The Parrot in the Cage”
Written by Lekhnath Paudyal, translated by Laxmi Prasad Devkota

I want to start out by stating the cliché – “no interpretation is the final interpretation”. I hope this note is helpful for the students of Bachelors level studying the book “Adventures in English”. I have tried to analyze (critique) this poem through the lens of “formalism” however I added my own perspectives as well.

Form of the poem

The poem is a dramatic monologue. The parrot laments its life, its condition inside the cage, shares its story of pain and loss and separation from the near ones. Through the parrot’s words, we get a snapshot of its temperament and character. We also get insights on its thought – how it regrets its fate and how it bemoans his imprisonment – to the fate and to the god. Through the parrot’s word, we may understand how the parrot is merely surviving in the hopeless dungeon and how it has somehow accepted its fate and destiny.

Summary of the poem

The parrot is trapped inside the cage and even in its dream, it finds no respite. It thinks about its parents and relatives living in a forest. It has no one around to share its agonies. With a lump in its sore throat, sometimes it cries and sometimes it jumps in madness.

It recalls how it used to fly and wander around the forest, eating wild fruits. But, now Fate has tricked it into the cage. There’s no more cool water, no more cool shades and no more delicious fruits. They are like dreams and the only thing that remains is fear.

Its parents must be missing it, they must be waiting, and bewailing but Fate has separated them. Instead, it sees enemies all around even when it is inside the cage.

It has tried to break the cage open and fly away but its beak is now blunt, wings and feet are cramped and it feels a sense of defeat. All it can do is play along the whims of its master, and prattle and chatter. Shocked and puzzled, it even thinks ending its life as well.

Even when its throat is dry, it must prate, it must chatter. If it doesn’t, its masters threaten it by brandishing a cane. It has to chatter on.

Such is the parrot’s life. It is forced to respond to callers. It is forced to speak even when it doesn’t want to, even when it can’t. In the forest, it loved talking, but here talking is all but cruel pleasure.

It then curses god for giving it the power of speech and reasoning. Because those are the reasons for his parents are grief, and for his captivity. But it still prays to the god and asks for mercy.

In the end, the parrot tells how the world is hostile to fair virtues and how there are exploitation of one’s talent. And it prays to god, not to let anyone have the life of a parrot.

Literariness in the poem:

a. Pattern

The poem consists of 24 stanzas, each containing four lines with aabb, ccdd, eeff pattern. The lines do not have any metrical consistency.

b. Defamiliarization

The poem starts with a very strange metaphor – the parrot is compared as a twice-born child. The parrot used to have a free and wandering life in the forest, which was its first life. Now, the parrot is trapped inside the cage and is forced to live a life of a prisoner. Even though we normally associate ‘birth’ as a new positive beginning but for the parrot his second birth is nothing but a curse.

Similarly, a twice born child could signify dual life as well, one that of the parrot and the other of the poet himself.

Through out the poem, Fate is repeated constantly. The parrot blames the fate for somehow tricking it parrot into the cage. Fate has been portrayed as “beguiling”, “oppressor” and “strange”. The parrot is constantly grumbling about its fate and thinks its natural gift of speaking as the reason for it captivity.

c. Foregrounding – through deviation

This is a classic example of how literary language deviates from the normal everyday language. Many lines deviate from the normal grammatical structure of English language. For instance:

My parents and relations that there are,
Do in a forest corner dwell afar.

Another instance:

What sort of fellow is this tiny life?
How come he here? What food and of which type,
Takes he within this cage? There’s none to know.
And so my heart must tingle in my woe.

The poem also deviates in style is some sense because of the use of so many archaic English words and expressions like thou, thy , giv’st and so no. This is something not familiar in English poems by Nepali poets.

d. Images, Sensory details

Line 10 has a very strong sensory appeal:

At times I feel a corpse, my spirit flies

The word ‘corpse’ produces a very cold and lifeless feeling with which one can empathize the state of the parrot.

e. Symbols

Parrot is known for its mimicry, it can imitate human sounds. So in some ways, parrots are considered clever, witty and quite vocal as well. And, we can see parrots kept inside a wire-cage in many households.

So the parrot in the poem is clearly a symbol of a person who has been captured and kept in the prison. The cage represents prison. The person, with the power of speech and reasoning, must have spoken against the oppressors. Consequently, he is imprisoned and now everyone is mocking at him.

Having the parrot as the symbol defamiliarizes the normal concept of man and his sufferings. With parrot as the symbol of a man who believes in fate and god, the poet was also able to bring ‘innocence’ in the foreground while distancing it away from sinful humanity.

Some critical thoughts:

The poem “The Parrot in the Cage” is a translated work of literature. It was written originally by Lekhnath Paudyal in Nepali, and it was translated to English by Nepal’s greatest poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota.

The big question is: how does Devkota’s translation affect the essence of the poem? So when we read a translation, do we inherently read the same original poem or something else?

As I read through the both versions, the Nepali and the translated, I felt that Devkota meticulously and very skillfully blended his own queerness to the ‘feel’ and ‘essence’ of Lekhnath’s version. Devkota wouldn’t have gone through the trouble for a mere translation.

(Well, where’s the interpretation based on the historical and contextual background? What about the author’s background?. What about the usual ‘four levels of interacting with the text’ approach? That, my friend, will be a completely different approach!)