On The Road
As the countdown to the New Year began, Mukhe, in cultural shock gaped through the crowd as strangers with crispy Sherpa beers and acerbic mocktails, enthralled in this ebony madness, lighted by neon lights led by a trail of warm yellow jumped hither and thither like frogs on acid, for shelter from a storm of unreserved happiness, ready to welcome uncertain times which would bring joys to some and maladies to the rest.
I had finished Kerouac’s On the Road just a day ago and in awe of such post war young Americans, pioneers of the Beat Generation, hippy prototypes, I was feeling quite sprightly already. I remembered of Hemingway who allegedly said ‘The idea is not to get drunk. It is to stay drunk’. In spite of his uptight upbringing, having traveled the orient, Mukhe led the entrouage with a grim countenance throughout the night of drunken revelries and brief encounters with pseudo philosophical battles of wits and other such mumbo jumbos.
We had walked for a couple of kilometers from his house, gulping Jack Daniels, reminiscing our school days and concluding that we had learned nothing from our forlorned past. It was like we had been to a ghost town and only remains of coldblooded carcass remained, stillness and immovable time having grazed through a fleeting glance, nothing for us to see. For seven years, we endeavored together but for it to teach us lessons in pseudo morality and superficial solidarity. Anything we learned was in apropos to our sense of machoism and add to our disgust of the out-group, thinking of these people as aliens and undeserving of life. There was no acceptance and we were only exposed to a liner way of perceiving the life that surrounds this universe. Elvis was cool and Tupac was a poser. Children of Bodom was way too mainstream for us to listen. The Beatles were cheeky and The Rolling Stones were superior to them. Megadeth meant manliness and Metallica was for girls. David Beckham deserved to die while Zidane was god. Long live Dipendra!
We met Sid in the Irish Pub at Lazimpat. He was with Amish, a junior of ours who had turned out to be quite a handsome and confident fella. He told us of his adventures as Ph.D. candidate in America. How the Americans are exposed to the world and had a multidimensional way of perceiving life. I secretly wished to travel across its states just like Jack Kerouac, Neil Cassidy and the bunch. We got out of this joint and marched straight to Thamel. The westerly winds chilled our warmly beveraged hearts. Mukhe wanted to capture some nightlife photos, probably to write about it. Sid suggested to hit Sam’s Bar and we happily obliged. Clad in a heavy leather jacket and his trademark bifocal frames, he led lankily with an entourage multiplied by the arrival of my girlfriend, Baccha and her two friends. Mukhe walked beside my brother Gothe, who appeared to us like a giant, trudging in giant steps as our gaits nimbled to match his. Mukhe was telling his about his recent escapade from Korea, how he had lived like a Beat poet, crashing from one joint to another and ending up to live a week at his sweetheart’s for her to treat him like his mother.
We arrived at Thamel for us to suffocate through the main entrance. A local disk jockey was spinning the yarn and the crowd was jumping and dancing like gorillas. I held my little Baccha tightly so we wouldn’t separate like in the movies and she would end up raped and murdered. She held me tightly because she liked the way I treated her, as a child, as a rare commodity to be locked away in tightly guarded closet. I heard Mukhe tell Gothe, ‘You see, dressing up matters. Everyone who ever judges you will initially judge you on the basis of how you wear and what you dress your hairy naked body with’.
To our dismay, Sam’s Bar was packed to the rafters and we tried our luck with other pubs but Thamel was a breeding ground to New Year jolly. Amish led our confounded asses to Tom & Jerry for him to only realize it was a storey above with a nice band playing some great classic hits. We were stuck in this unknown restaurant and ended up finishing our meals and ravaging some beers anyways. It was a bland place playing Hindi songs. All places that play Hindi songs in the New Year don’t deserve to be visited.
It was two hours to midnight and we weren’t going to throw ourselves to New Year at this morbid place. Everyone agreed to hit Naxal and check out a couple of bars and restaurants there. I was already inebriated and promised myself I wouldn’t drink now. I didn’t want to embarrass myself by merry- walking, puking and throwing some tantrums. It has always been a deep seated fear since my teenage years when my school mates embarrassed themselves and we made fun of each other’s for not having the balls to withhold any substances we abused our bodies with. I still held this belief in a prejudiced way. Along the way we talked and discussed about everything, battling wits with sarcasm, making jokes and analyzing life as we know it. ‘I am going to write about tonight’ Mukhe said. ‘It’s like a dopamine hit I get when I press the publish button in my blog’.
‘I do regularly read your blog. You’ve got the talent to express with humor’, I replied.
‘It’s encouraging when people read and respond. How can people have time to read my blog, man?’ he was confounded. ‘I don’t even have time to read the news. I merely scroll through my mobile’.
‘I don’t know either man. The world is a mysterious place to live in’, I remarked curtly.
‘Why, is everything alright with you? I don’t see much stories nowadays’ he enquired. ‘Yes. I am doing quite alright. And I am afraid of this state. I don’t know’, I drawled.
‘What about it. Why don’t you write about it?’ he grew impatient.
I grew a bit comfortable. Mukhe always has this presence to make others comfortable. He has a way with words too. A wee bit direct and more tactful. He stood there with his expressing concern and I liked it. Probably everyone who knows him likes this way of expressing concern too. His posterior, lurched and his thick neck, stretched as his almost handsome, dark, square countenance lighted to learn about what’s going on. His snubbed nose protruding across a pair of eyeglasses sensing a story here and there leaped through time as his narrow, hooded eyes discerned a paroxysm of anxiety that engulfed me. We walked together through the bland breeze that flowed against out gaits.
‘It’s hard to write nowadays. Maybe I read too many Americans. I should have clung with Dostoevsky. After every book I read, I try to imitate their styles. I hate it when Hemingway takes hold of me. I cannot express. I am asphyxiated and there’s nothing for me to write. He’s so simple yet so hard to do. Every time I think I have stumbled into a great idea to write about and when all my passions leap forth from the unconscious as I skim from syllables to syllables, ardently giving life to words, I am awakened by something hostile. Like some sort of devil stands between my fingers and stops these sublime motions. And I struggle and I loose. I have started so many times and never completed anything. I think that I am cursed. You see, ideas after ideas and my designs to translate my awareness into stories are wasted and I feel undeserving of feeling deeply. Why feel deeply when I cannot express it? Why stifle myself with unstated passions? I have grown numb knowing that I cannot write anymore. I feel like a cock. I have wings but I cannot fly’, I anguished over reduced ability to write like I wanted to.
Baccha came galloping towards us and remarked that only Mukhe could change my mind – to make me get off my steed like derriere and hit the road. He smirked. She is always like a little child, prancing around, thoughtful of a myriad of visions that gather around her precocious head and exclaiming like a brat, all wonderful things inside her head and suddenly remarking aloud her interpretations with wits and sallies and sometimes confusing herself in this trance. She was Dali and I was Gala.
It was a wonderful time to be alive. With good beverages and some pints, I felt free. I could express myself to this handful few and I would have felt, I had spoken about my desires and ambitions to the world. If only the world heeds a neurotic like me, it could spin crazy. Rambling in the direction of a sweet possibility of a fairy land where music, booze and fashionable women adorned hipster men on their bosoms, we strode through the tarmacs with holes and troughs, tumbling into conversations of the past and the future, reassuring ourselves that good time will roll like a cannon ball made of fluffy socks fired from an ethereal mortar which is desperate to hit, stink and conk out.
We remembered the times when the Big Brother did a number on us. All of us starved and we hated them. I hated us. How full of hypocrisy patriotism when it comes out of hate? ‘It’s useless’ I said.
‘Now things are normal and everyone has forgotten’ lamented Baccha.
‘I can’t feel any progressive energy in this country. I feel lethargy swarming myself as I wake up every day and I can’t do nothing’ reproached Sid.
‘The Koreans are like machines. They don’t even sleep. I love the way they drink Soju’ commented Mukhe. ‘How are things in America’ he inquired to Gothe.
‘I feel like an alien there. Well, even the Americans make each other feel like an alien. I got little to complain. It’s America!’ he sniveled.
‘To America!’ shouted Sid and crashed a brown bomber, down the drainage hole. ‘To America!’ we rejoiced. Gothe smirked. Baccha did an awkward landing on the ledge and twisted her ankle. She let a faint cry. ‘Back to Kathmandu’ I mourned. I stretched her little legs and she could walk. She shouldered on me as we I drew her petit fingers with mine, caressing her neck and I gently kissed her. She tasted sublime. I hummed her as we tread through the hallow night, ‘Awake. Shake dreams from your hair my pretty child, my sweet one. Chose the day and chose the sign of your day. The day’s divinity, first thing you see’.