Arts and Entertainment

Growing up

- Pratik Mainali

Sep 19, 2018-

You are destructively sentimental in your early adolescent days. You were young, that was for sure, but everything else was pure confusion. Neither a child nor an adult, you too might have been a confused but brooding mass of energy as I was. I had a pencil moustache, a firm square jaw, a tall slender frame and round manly shoulders. My knuckles were becoming huge and would more often be smeared in ink than not. My voice became deep and boomingly loud. People started looking and treating me differently. I spent my days aimless, carousing with the boys at times and times alone—deep in the night you would have found me in the street, still raving and singing out loud. My feelings were like a tangled mass I could not undo and weighed heavy in my chest—all I knew was I needed to vent.

You feel fearless when you’re young, it’s strange. It is a lunatic 

feeling—of independence—free, even from logic and explanation. When you are young, you feel more like a force of nature than a mere person. 

We were generally just two and we fought constantly but always for fun. My friend, Sam, I knew had felt the same incessant throbbing in the head and pounding in the chest. We did outrageous things together on a daily basis: we sang foul songs, ate foul foods, wore dirty clothes, stole, caroused and did all the things we were ‘not supposed to’ precisely because we were told not to do them. Why? Because we weren’t kids 

anymore, we were, I guess, mannish-boys. And those types listen to no one but their own hearts.

We longed to be men, to grow beards, and smoke cigarettes, drink beers and own a car or a motorbike. God, I miss myself then. Even now if I close my eyes and say fun, it appears before me, the memory of desolate streets where dust fluffed and soared while a gang of boys strut around, arms strung around each other’s necks, our bellowing laughs momentarily dispersing the cloud of smoke we carried with us wherever we went—top dherai hanthiyem, back then. The smell of a freshly painted bike, the smell of weed, the dank gutter smell along with that of shit and piss and puke and blood somehow bring back the fondest of memories for me. I cannot condone this anymore but back then we were also always looking for fights. With sore legs, aching necks, ribs rattling with heavy breaths, knuckles clasped, and jaws clenched, we walked and danced along these streets all night—we were the stray kings of Kathmandu.

Raging, we tore through these streets. Always consumed by the thrill of the moment, the desire to outrage and to do dumb things was irresistible. There was this inexorable feeling of needing to kick back at something and destroy it completely. The heart grows sick when one is consumed with loneliness in those times when friends are not around. The thought that time will stretch so far that one day I won’t even be able to recognise myself, haunts me. The more you think back the more helpless you feel. What happened? What changed? Loneliness creeps into your heart and you feel this desolate hopelessness. Your childhood, which was once so close and dear to you, becomes a distant memory and you desperately wish you could just dive through a ripple in time and travel back to those halcyon days. I can still smell the schoolroom. The enamel white walls with red streaks lathered in between, the chalk, the dust, the ink, the boot polish, I remember it all like I was still there. You gaze at the vast space around you, the rickety tables and the splintery chairs. God! Those long intolerable classes where you could barely keep your eyes open. Ink welling from your nib and soaking your fingers. Peeking at a girl from the corner of your eyes. You wonder if your name is still carved on the second last bench to the left. I can still hear the roll of the slimy football on the muddy pitch and that of cricket bats clopping at the cork ball. 

You were expected to stand in attention every ‘assembly’ until your feet began to ache. Then you rushed to class and threw yourself into your seat. Then you wrestled and teased, joked and relaxed while priming yourself for a long day. Then the insufferable teachers entered the class and the fun abruptly halted. When you got home from school, you threw your bag across the room, and slumped on the bed. Every fiber on your frame is aching by then. Then a feeling comes creeping back to you as you stare blankly at the ceiling. It is a peculiar feeling, very hard to describe. The heart twinges and twitches as you lay sprawled on the bed, your hand across your face, while mother is shouting at you from the kitchen but you cannot hear her as your mind is preoccupied with the thoughts of having fun with friends. You sit and reminisce for a bit. Then you grab a bite and head out to another adventure.

The walls evaporate and the green fields rise ahead of you. You smell the grass, the mud, and the thick humid air. You walk past a field of tall grass that brushed against your claves making them itchy. You squished down on the sand that sank as you walked, beneath heavy black clouds coalescing in the sky. It all makes you giddy with excitement. There was something about school and childhood—something so precious I cannot give words to. The air was fresher, our hearts were lighter, and our legs so much swifter. But then one day you have to say farewell to all that. Ultimately, even the closest friends will part and go their separate ways. The parting smile seemes to say “don’t worry, friend, nothing’s gonna change between us,” but you know in your heart that it is a lie.

Nostalgia is a real drag sometimes. My heart swells and frays at the corners because of it. How different was I then? Before life happened.


Mainali is a BIBM student at 

Herald College

Published: 19-09-2018 12:47

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