The Kathmandu Patriot
He sat down sipping his coffee slowly. He liked coffee. Black coffee, no sugar, bitter and concentrated. It tasted like hell unleashed into your insipid body through a miniature cup. He sat there and drank it like it was the most delicious drink his mother could have made. It was made by someone from across the receptionist’s desk where the blinds in hues of red and green were opened through the middle and served. Sitting next to him was Mr. Floyd, assuming a gloomy and speculative countenance. He was smoking a cheap cigarette in his left hand while his head leaned against his right, the index finger noticeably pressing hard against his temple while one could detect the violent trembling of his arms, it seemed like he was shivering from the cold but it was a lazy late afternoon.
‘I don’t understand it. It’s killing me inside. I don’t like being judged’, whined Mr. Floyd. His nosy voice made it more petulant.
‘It’s not for me to tell. But I tell you one thing. It’s about leaving their opinions out of your head. You don’t want to do the right thing and expect everyone to accept it. It’s part of us. Leave it alone’, said the man who was drinking coffee.
He was a fair looking person. He had a square face, snubbed nose, small goatee and his hair was done meticulously to the right and gave that mannish and poignant Italian air. The same demeanour that Italians have in the movies. Somewhere along the line between Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. He said that he was from South of Italy but had settled here in Kathmandu for some time. It was said that he had connections with people. He never spoke much with people but he spoke fairly and wisely. That’s what many people in Kathmandu thought. It seemed like his stern appearance almost propped up his wisdom. Living a life in Kathmandu as a foreigner was turning out to be very easy for him. Everyone was respectful towards him and everyone wanted to help him and talk with him. In turn, he was also very courteous towards others. But, he knew well that it all amounted to the rumour that he had a load of green money. Anyways, he had fit right into the heart of greediness and self indulgence.
A waiter came and asked, ‘anything sir?’
‘Yes, I will have a creamy croissant and please fill in my coffee’, said the man as he elevated the china while his finger flitted and pointed towards it.
The waiter nodded, delivered a faint smile and went. Mr. Floyd observed a small mole on the waiter’s nose. He thought it was ugly and obscene. It was a small dint on his face but Mr. Floyd who was indulged in self loathing noticed it. People with negativity tend to notice any ugliness in others anyways.
‘I wonder what would I do if I had such a mole on my face’, suddenly began Mr. Floyd.
‘What would you do?’
‘Why, I’d do nothing. I think it looks just fine on that boy’. He smirked.
Mr. Floyd upped his mouth and spiffed his clean shaven chin. ‘Yes, maybe’. He sighed.
Mr. Floyd lit a cigarette and blew it through his beautiful Tinker bell nose. The thin, translucent, white smoke cleared promptly into the air.
He gaped for a while and said, ‘That kid made my heart heavy, you know. I haven’t reflected on my life at all. He’s just a six year old and he talks nonsense’.
‘I was also taken aback for a while but then you know kids these days, full of wisdom. It’s the way they are taught, I guess’, promptly replied, the man. There was a poignant silence for a brief moment. Then swinging his head in disbelief, Mr. Floyd said, ‘Maybe the kid is too smart. Some kids are natural. They pick up easy. But then where in this damned world does a six year old says I want to be a Chepang leader when I grow up? It’s not natural anywhere let alone in this country’.
The man threw a grin at Mr. Floyd and nonchalantly replied, ‘Especially, when a country has been cursed by a Sati’, bantering. Both shared a good, old laugh.
Being historically marginalized, the Chepangs were socially and morally, the paupers of destiny. When the Maoist revolution had concluded, like other backward communities they could also have their say. It was a sour, politics and their auxiliaries, promising to uplift the society and yet not delivering. How could they when they had many mouths to feed. A political promise is always awe inspiring in its vigour and rhetorically crafted speeches. The two men had been to a school in rural Nepal run by a high school drop-out from the great nation of America, who thought it would be wise to teach children for free. He did it by making the parents contribute in labour instead of fees. They dwelled in animal husbandry and agriculture within the premises of the school which was located on a foothill. Mr. Floyd and the man had visited it and since then Floyd had been acting pathetically. He had an injured ego, like that of a fighting bull when it is defeated. He had been defeated by the unfaltering morals of the high school drop-out and the social consciousness of a six year old. His whole life seemed a waste of ideals hauled by his narcissistic gains and hedonistic bearings. It was a fellow countryman steamrolling another by his persistence, originality and moralistic demeanours. Mr. Floyd felt pathetic.
‘It seemed like paradise to me, what a beautiful place and what beautiful people!’ said the man. Now, savouring his croissant.
‘I don’t know if it was paradise but it sure wasn’t Kathmandu. Blood sucking, wretched and mean’, replied Mr. Floyd, coldly in his strident voice. He was a exasperated and obnoxious patriot now, dwelling miserably in his own wound, his thoughts indulging at his lowly city life. He thought he could have done more for the country like the high school drop-out. The man sensing Mr. Floyd’s mental state, got up, asked for his leave, paid for his coffee and went away.
Mr. Floyd then said to himself, ‘Looks like nobody wants to be with a person in self pity, let alone a patriotic sissy’.
A couple of days later, Mr. Floyd was in a fashionable boîte, the crescendo ever growing, drinking a Heineken, shin digging with the man and fooling with a girl he had just met who was in stiletto heels, frolicking, advancing and promiscuous. It was a party organized for charity.
The high school dropout from America was already consigned to oblivion.