Published in The Nepali Man on 28 February 2015
It was a dull Friday evening at the end of a difficult week. He charged up my street on a motorbike, determined to play - a result of an hour of exchanges on Grindr. Sitting on my balcony, full of questions, he was clearly puzzled at finding himself in front of me.
I asked him to shower before we entered the bedroom.
By midnight, what was meant to be a mere hook-up carried possibilities of more. There was no question of asking him to leave, even though I had an important work event the following morning, even though I am so used to sleeping alone that sharing a bed with someone is enough to turn me into an anxious insomniac.
I showed him photos of an arts exhibition taking place in Bhaktapur that weekend. He came clean and told me all about himself, despite being mildly famous within Kathmandu’s pop scene. I found that intriguing. It was also a testament of his trust, his willingness to take a small risk, his offering, perhaps hoping for more from me. “It’s a date,” I told him. “Meet me in Naya Baneshwar at 5:30 tomorrow and we drive to Byasi.”
Scattered rains washed different parts of Kathmandu at different times that Saturday. I scanned the faces of political protesters hanging out on Naya Baneshwar pavements as I waited for him in front of Everest Hotel. He was three minutes late; not bad at all. Once on the bike, I grabbed his waist and teased him. “Not here,” he giggled cheerfully.
I had to pull out a raincoat near the Pepsi Cola turning. A steady drizzle had started even though the sky had patches of blue. Odd things were happening.
We walked through Thulo Byasi’s old neighborhood which was devastated by the recent quakes. An artist collective had been working with the community since, involving locals in art projects. Nearly five months after the quake, the neighborhood was transformed by large murals and installations. Children and women were delirious with all the light, color and music. We strolled through the crowd, pausing at the exhibits, saying Hello to acquaintances. At one point, I looked at him from a distance. His face was glowing, washed with wonder. I also realized how striking his looks were, a beautiful result of his mixed heritage.
It was inside a bhatti nearby, in between bites of choila and aalu, that I told him my full name, what I did for a living. “Let’s travel together,” he said. “Let’s go away during Dashain.”
Rain beat us down on the way back. Once inside my flat, we grabbed each other for warmth, but also because it was getting hard to stay apart even a little bit.
On Sunday morning, I went out with mugs to buy milk tea from the street khaja ghar - he was not used to the dark Americano I brewed every morning. After tea, I chopped a papaya and presented the orange cubes to him in bed. He spent the morning with a fork in hand, scrolling through his social media feed. Our afternoon sex was infused with jazz.
What’s happening, we asked each other, wide-eyed and sticky-bodied. It was getting too much. Two nights and three days already!
Perhaps needing a break, he went home in the evening and I devoted the following morning to work emails. But he came by in the afternoon and we watched YouTube videos together. Then we listened to songs, in all three languages. We danced around in my room. We also watched a few episodes of Looking, the HBO show, which brought out topics common in gay relationships. I was grateful for the timing.
More bike rides, more choila and aalu, more milk tea. And more art, this time in Patan. We went to the square twice that day - once in the afternoon and again, late at night.
He left early on Tuesday and I left soon after for meetings and work. We took the rest of the day off. When Wednesday rolled around, I was eager to see him. I showered and changed, and waited. He brought avocados from his garden and stuffed the young fruits inside a dark closet. This time, he wanted to give another try to an Americano. I watched him sipping the drink, taking drags from a cig, scrolling through his phone. And abruptly, he stood up to leave.
We exchanged messages early on Thursday, since I had to leave town for work. He sent a meme from Looking, implying that he wanted to get serious with me. “Sweet,” I wrote back, “but we have to talk.”
I was exhausted from the drive back. I just wanted to fall asleep, but he made me wait for an hour, then two, promising that he was coming over to spend the night after dinner with relatives. Finally, at ten, he sent a message saying he could not come. I had meditated for the past two hours, trying not to get annoyed, realizing that “waiting” is also a state, that that was exactly what was happening to me in the present and I had no choice but to embrace it.
So what is happening, really? Romance, for sure. Sweet pleasure, idle hours cuddling, joy. Kisses, caresses, hugs. All of that. Meals together, jokes, clarifications, slight annoyances. Getting used to things, guessing, anticipating.
Yes, it’s only been a week. Only one week. One week. A week when the sky crackled with fireworks, heralding the Constitution’s arrival. It was a week marked by the autumn equinox, when the earth reached a remarkable point in its orbit, that symbolic distance from the sun, balancing the length of day and night, alerting us to prepare ourselves for the long hours of darkness ahead.
What else is happening? I am sitting here, at my desk, at the beginning of another Friday, looking outside at the leaves gleaming under a bright, yellow morning. Trying to decide whether to call him or not. Whether it’s worth bringing up my disappointment from the night before, or whether to set it aside and just accept it as an unavoidable situation. I’m trying to decide whether to pick up the phone or just wait.
Whatever I do, there is going to be some waiting around. Waiting for minutes to turn into hours, waiting to see what will happen next.