The Bharatpur breakdown — Teaser
This is a sneak peak into the next novella I am currently writing that will go to press soon. After my first novel ‘Shankar-bhayankar’ was long listed for Manbooker Prize I got motivated to write more in the genre. Please have a go and let me know whether you will be interested in reading this story as bad as the infamous novel ‘Shankar-bhayankar.’
The Bharatpur breakdown
Chapter 1: Puskar and the long-held pee
Puskar was holding his bladder for few hours now. He had left Kathmandu some 4 hours ago, in his Honda Unicorn and had never stopped since. He wanted to hold it until Ramnagar, which was still good few kilometers away, but his determination was wearing thin now. The pressure was demanding a let out or an explosion, priming his brain to think about a documentary on Big Bang that he had watched on YouTube a few days back. Puskar even wondered if his bladder exploded right there would it create a Universe of its own. If it did, there would be enough water to support life in each planet thought Puskar.
Some 4 kilometers before Ramnagar Puskar gave up. Because of the urgency, reaching Ramnagar had started to feel like those dreams where you run but gain not even an inch. He slowed down his bike and made a left turn and got off the highway.
He ran to the bush letting his bike lay in the dirt. Unzipped his pants and with a little assistance from Puskar his penis sprang out like a drunk girl storming out of pub door. Promising himself never again to drink water just for vanity sake he let his penis do the Job. That’s when he heard it.
‘No no no no not there……ohhhh no ohhhh nooooooooooo’
The sound made Puskar flinch, which in turn made his penis jerk so bad the stream of pee made a shape of carelessly drawn ‘Z’ in the air which then fell on the ground like a snake who does not know how to properly climb a tree. However, Puskar composed the pee-stream back to normal and turned his head at the likely source of the sound.
He saw a very small and derelict tea shop first and then an old man inside, about 50 meters from where he was relieving himself. The old man was looking at Puskar with a mix of disgust and disbelief. Puskar moved his face a bit further into the bush. He tried to finish as fast as he could. But the pee went on and on. He could now hear his fluid splattering on the bush and the sound of each drop intensified the sense of ongoing humiliation.
Puskar gave a final shake to his penis as if it just brought home a report card with F on it. But the last drop was determined to run down his thigh so he relented. He then went to the shop. Saw few small goats playing and bleating nearby. Wondered how he could not see all that before then realized the shop was near the bend which was not fully visible from the point where he had made the left turn. What was a shop and an old man doing in a place like that where nobody was going to stop — the thought passed Puskar’s mind leaving a sense of doom on its wake.
He flashed a guilty smile at the shopkeeper. Old man did not reciprocate the love.
‘You think you can take your tiny thing out and pee wherever you please, don’t you?’ said angry old man.
‘Sorry, I just did not see your shop from there’ replied Puskar. Old man’s angry frown deepened. Puskar felt a stab of fear in his chest. He noticed the old man was 5 or 6 inches taller than him and had ropey muscles probably from farm work or something similar. And up close he did not even look very old. He probably was just a middle-aged man in his early 50s who was just beaten up rough by the hardship of life.
‘Do you know whats in there where you did that?’ asked the man after staring at Puskar for 10 seconds which felt like 5 minutes to Puskar.
‘I did not see anything there. Why?’ said Puskar by turning a quick glance at the spot and then back to old man again. Old man was making him feel like a toddler.
Old man shook his head, let out a long-held breath that sent a ripple through his overgrown nasal hair, put his hands on his hip and said, ‘That is a sacred area, my kuldeuta (deity) lives there and you have made him angry now’
‘I am really sorry man…. I… I did not mean to….’
‘Just because its not your home, its not your city you will just pee anywhere you want as if the place belongs to nobody?’
‘I thought it was just a jungl….’
‘I get amazed at the stupidity and ignorance of city folks really. What? Jungle? You said Jungle?’
‘I….. I…..I am really sorry….’ The anxiety had already taken the hold of Puskar. It always did whenever he met someone surer than himself.
‘What sorry? Now you just gonna stand there or go and apologize to my kuldevta? Not that it would be enough. I think kuldeuta won’t agree to anything less than a sacrifice of a rooster for a blasphemy like that’
Puskar, until then, was imagining himself pulling a little Sam Harris on old man and telling him how there was no God but just randomness. But as soon as old man ordered him to apologize to his God Puskar scurried back to the spot without thinking twice. He then put his palms together in namaste position in front of his chest. Counted 10 seconds and then raised namaste to his forehead twice and turned toward the shop. He did not know whether that was enough to satisfy old man. He could not decide whether to go back to the old man or just walk back to his bike and leave quietly. What if the old man was not finished with him yet. What if he saw him leaving without a word and came behind him with a rock in his hand.
He then calculated, if quickly running to his bike, starting it, and then giving a flying fuck to the old man before hitting the road was possible before old man could do anything about it. The chance looked too slim to Puskar. He just reluctantly went back to the shop. The old man was inside his shop now but still sulking.
Puskar decided to buy something from shop to change his relationship with old man from that of a perpetrator and punisher to a customer and vendor. However, the old man was still simmering with anger, so according to some unwritten law he could not be his customer yet. Puskar decided to give some time to let tension subside a bit.
He settled on the bench outside the tea shop. His Samsung was already out of his pocket. Network was super weak, which was expected. He realized that his situation was gradually resembling the predicament of characters in the movie ‘Hills Have Eyes’. Puskar nervously started to swipe at his family’s digital pictures. His wife, his 5 years old daughter and himself looking back at him. He missed them so bad now.
Puskar also, in his mind, started constructing possible lines of conversation to break the silence between him and the old man. He even saw himself asking the man if those 3 small goats were siblings but then immediately dismissed it. He even thought of showing the old man photos of his family and then marveled at his brain’s ability at generating silly ideas.
‘Where you are coming from?’ asked old man suddenly, breaking Puskar’s chain of thoughts.
Puskar looked behind, sideways and everywhere. He even looked at goats and said, ‘who? me? ummm…. Kathmandu……I am coming from Kathmandu’
‘And where you headed to?’ asked old man again.
‘Hetauda huh? Well I don’t think you will be able to reach Hetauda today’
‘Huh? Why?’ Puskar’s heart skipped a beat. He became 100 percent sure that old man was next going to announce how he was going to cut him into small pieces and that’s why he can’t reach Hetauda.
‘They have blocked the highway at Bharatpur. Some gang member there got killed by a rival gang I heard’ said old man.
‘Where did you hear that?’ said Puskar with a kind of momentary relief.
‘In there’ said old man with a sarcastic grin and his index finger pointing at the radio on the shelf. Puskar did not like the cocky gesture which was suggesting that he was an idiot who does not even know where people get their information from.
Puskar felt an urge to beat the shit out of ugly old fellow but the urge vaporized as fast as it occurred. Thrashing someone had so far never happened outside puskar’s imagination plus he was rather thankful to the old man for at least he did not seem cranky with him anymore. He imagined himself gifting old man a statue of Lord Ganesh on his next trip. However, for now, Puskar just took the advantage of the situation. He mustered up some courage and asked, ‘Do you sell tea here, sir?’
‘Uh huh. Why you want one?’ asked old man.
‘Yes, sir please’
Old man, lazily and reluctantly, started to perform actions required to put pot on the stove. It looked like as if he could take a toilet break anytime and not give a fuck about making tea if he wanted to.
‘They are not gonna open the highway today. No chance’ said old man to imaginary someone sitting between himself and Puskar.
Puskar debated whether to believe old man or not but then road blocks on those parts of highways were common. Then again, he debated it could also be a lie, a part of the plan old man was cooking up to hold him back and rob him and kill him when the right opportunity and time presented itself. Well the time was already right, noticed Puskar as there was nobody in the sight and old man was clearly capable of effortlessly killing someone like Puskar who was just 5’ 3” of height, timid of nature and had toothpicks for arms.
‘What are you going to do now. Return to kathmandu or what?’ asked Oldman.
‘Nope. I must reach Hetauda no matter what. Are you sure that the road is blocked?’
‘If that girl in the radio is not lying then I am sure. She does not lie sometimes’
‘What do you mean she does not lie SOMETIMES?’ asked Puskar.
‘Well yesterday she said it was going to rain and it did not’
The old man searched the effect of his joke on Puskar’s face. Puskar sensed it and laughed a little. And then he laughed some more. And then laughed hard. He laughed like he just heard the best joke of his life. It was his only chance to finally make the old man’s anger go away and he did not want to spoil it.
‘Whieeeeeeeeeeeee zahahahahahahaha….’ The old man’s wild laugh made its way through the cough in his chest.
Puskar realized the old man must have repeated that bad joke to many others since its discovery. He also thought may be the man was not so evil afterall and he was just being wary of him for no reason. But his heart sank when he subsequently remembered how psychos in movies play with their victims exactly in similar manner — make them laugh and make them hopefull and suddenly stab them or slice their throat.
The man gave the steaming cup of tea to puskar. Puskar put his phone on the bench and took the cup off old man’s hand and gave him a smile. The old man smiled rather too generously and then went on to tend to his small goats behind Puskar.
‘Are these siblings?’ asked Puskar looking behind the old man.
‘Wh-wh-what?? Sa-sa-sa sibling?’ Oldman flinched really bad when Puskar looked at him. Puskar noticed the man was hiding something in his hand behind his back now. Puskar dropped the cup and jumped off the bench.
‘wh-wh-what are you trying to do? What you hiding in your hand?’
‘Northing nothing. Its really nothing.’ said nervous old man.
Chapter 2: Srijan and his new found spot
Srijan woke up fresh at 6 am, inside his makeshift tent, under the bridge, then remembered how sleep still held more promise than the purposeless world he had just woken up in and fell asleep again.
He woke up again at 12 pm.
After he was done thinking about Lisa Ann, he noticed there was no single vehicles passing through the bridge he was sleeping under. Then he remembered the Gaida Gang in Bharatpur had blocked the highway a day before because one of their members was murdered by the rival gang. At least that’s what they thought. Smiled Srijan.
He then started thinking about the dead gangster fella. The drunk boy was peeing from the bridge directly on Srijan’s tent when he saw him first. He was deliberately aiming for the tent and that’s what infuriated Srijan. Even though he was drunk, the boy had figured out the exact point where he needed to direct his pee for wind to carry it to the tent. Srijan remembered he was impressed with the boy for few seconds.
Srijan had hit the boy with a log, after their argument escalated to point of no U-turn. The boy had later bleeded profousely which had made Srijan throw up. However, he had composed himself and found some money and an iphone on the boy and taken it. The iphone had a sticker of Lord Ganesh in the back. Who the fuck could guess a gangster would have faith in the God. And what good that faith did to him anyway.
He had then vacated that spot right away and found this new bridge after Ramnagar to call it his home. Srijan later had come to know about boy’s death when he had walked 4 miles back to Bharatpur to sell the iphone. It had become a national news. It had gathered so much momentum that the highway was blocked for two days in a row and a gang war was likely to ensue.
He had then just sold that iphone to a cyber café owner for 4000 rupees and 3 hours time on one of the computers. Owner had been a bit reluctant about letting Srijan sit on one of the cabins but had relented.