Published in The Nepali Man on 28 February 2015
The Situation and the Story
He was twenty. We had sex at seven am. Everything fell into place easily that morning. Quick Grindr chat, mutual interest. He said he would walk from New Baneshwar through Sankhamul, and sure enough, he arrived at my gate in less than half an hour.
The sex was brief but it did the trick. I liked how it was uncomplicated, how one step followed another in a natural progression. Of course he was a novice, like a guitar student who still needed to get his fingers acquainted to the strings. But when it came to kissing, he was a pro. He knew how to use his lips, how to let our tongues slide in and out of each other’s mouths.
Between us, there was a little bit more than just carnal desire. That’s why, even after we got dressed, he lingered around while I toasted bread and fried eggs for both of us.
He didn’t like black coffee so I served him some juice. At one point during the meal, he snapped a picture of his half-eaten breakfast plate and sent it to a friend abroad, “Look, he even made breakfast for me,” he had texted.
We spent another thirty minutes in bed, kissing, groping, caressing. I liked running my hands through his shock of wild curly hair, trying to read his young, vibrant eyes.
After he left, I kept my distance for a couple of days. When he sent a text saying, “I want to kiss you again,” I didn’t reply promptly. A week passed. And then he called.
His parents were moving to Pharping and he needed a place to stay. Commuting back and forth for work and school would be inconvenient, he said. “You said you have an extra room. Can I take it? How much is the rent?” he sent a flurry of queries online.
No way, I thought. Out of the question. All I had wanted was sex, nothing more. Living together would bring up issues, create confusions. Besides, he was twenty! I didn’t want to be responsible in any way. Did he even have enough money for food?
I tried to avoid the situation, but his family was moving the following day, so he pressed for an answer. Finally, the next morning - it was a Sunday - I reached an impulsive decision. Why not, I thought. The kid needed shelter, and I could use the extra cash. And regular sex with a roommate could be fun.
“This is just a roommate situation, OK?” I emphasized over the phone, “Nothing more.” I also warned him about guests and parties. “You can have friends over but just let me know in advance.”
“Ok. Ok. Whatever. That’s all fine. When can I move in?”
“Come by this afternoon and we’ll go over the rules once more.”
Our second hook-up was in the other room, where he was going to stay. We stripped off our clothes and rolled around but halfway through it, I somehow lost interest. We ended the session abruptly.
A couple of days later, when I was in bed, reading, he appeared in the doorway.
“Can I come in?” he asked
He sat by the edge of the bed, scrolling through Grindr.
“This guy I told you about, he came over yesterday.”
“Oh. How was it?”
“Thikai”, he said. “We fooled around. He came quickly. I wanted to fuck him but that didn’t happen.”
The next day, he approached me again, “Are you going to be home later? This guy is coming over.”
“Listen,” I started. “Remember, we talked about guests and friends. I don’t want you bringing random guys over.”
“You said it was OK as long as I told you.”
“You didn’t tell me about that other guy. You just mentioned to me after it happened. I’m not comfortable with it.”
He started walking away, saying, “It’s not that I’m living here for free.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Yes. I want to talk about it.” He returned and faced me.
“You haven’t even paid the rent yet.”
“I told you I’ll talk to the office tomorrow and pay you.” This time he raised his voice.
“You are not in a good position to argue with me, mister.”
For a moment, he stayed quiet, his head arched to one side, eyes directed at a different direction.
I tried to be a bit reasonable - “I don’t want random guys coming to my apartment. This is Kathmandu. You never know who is out there. And you will leave soon. I don’t want to deal with all that.”
“But you said I can bring people over…” he remained insistent.
“You can leave if you are not OK with this.” I wanted to be very clear with him. “And,” I added, “Don’t try to play behind my back. If you get caught, I won’t be happy.”
The next few days were cold. We barely spoke to each other. One rainy evening, I was in my room as usual, reading. “Can I come in?” he asked.
“Why?” I said, half-joking.
“Well, we haven’t talked properly.” He had softened.
“You can lie down, but I am reading.”
I continued to read, as he pressed his body against mine. “What are we doing for dinner?” he asked.
“If you want to go out and get some spinach, I’ll make a pasta dish.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“Then, don’t,” I replied, walking towards the kitchen to check the ingredients.
It was awkward - the whole thing. At first I thought I just needed to get used to someone else in the apartment. I had been enjoying my private space. I loved long solitary hours, whether in my room or the kitchen table or the balcony. I resented having to share that with him.
But there were other things that irked me. His underwear, for example, could have belonged to a ten year old. It had little images of airplanes and balloons.
And his questions, “What is pasta actually? Is it the same as macaroni?”
“Google it.” I didn’t make any extra effort to mentor, or advise, or inform.
His face was gorgeous. So was his youth. And he knew that very well, having modeled for a couple of famous brands already. When he asked for favours - “Can I have the leftovers from last night?” - his face had a subtle, stunning smile, intentional, almost knowing that no one can deny him anything. It infuriated me.
“But he is so dumb!” I complained to a friend.
“Oh man. Nepali boys,” my friend agreed.
That was the thing, the thing that turned me off so violently. I had tried to interest him in readings, had even offered to read a short, sweet passage, but his response was, ‘No. I just don’t like books.”
The times he had come to sit next to me, he had nothing to say. He didn’t know how to ask questions or express curiosity. Studying BBA, bunking half his classes, working as a receptionist in a fancy office, I wondered whether he had any plans for the next few years.
“We are so judgemental,” I laughed with my friend.
“I don’t give a shit. It’s pathetic. If you don’t read or travel outside Nepal, you end up being so sheltered and boring.”
“Does he even realize? He probably thinks of his pretty face all day, but his mind is empty. There’s nothing inside.”
In him, I could see a reflection of myself as well - my inflexible schedule, my firm ways, my sense of superiority. The age difference wasn’t so big but we stood at two ends of a no man’s land, and the life experiences between us was vast. I puzzled, for a while, trying to figure out my role. Could I be a friend? A lover? A guide? But a small step could lead to an emotional entanglement and I wasn’t ready for that in any way.
We went through periods of short friendly exchanges and long phases of silence. I started counting days. For the most part, we went about our ways. In the end, it turned out to be just what it was - a business transaction. When it was time for him to leave, we hugged quickly, and I added, “See you around.” A friend came over to help him move out.
Two days later, I hosted a party to cleanse the air.