Shaken and stirred

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- Manohar Shrestha

May 2, 2018-

My name is James Bond,” I told my girlfriend. She wanted to stay in touch with me through letters, the only mode of communication other than trunk calls and telegrams in those days. “Write that name on the envelope,” I told my girlfriend Reza. We had telegram and trunk call services, both of which we had to book through the post office and were expensive. So writing letters was the only means to stay in touch. I was returning home from studies. I asked Reza to write letters addressed to my alias James Bond. Although we were not a typically orthodox family, out of deference, I still feared that my parents would know that I had a girlfriend at a young age, just a few months short of my 18th birthday. Girlfriends then were your friends’ envy, but they were not your family’s pride. 

Moreover, the postmen were like family friends, and I did not want them wagging their tongues that could embarrass my parents in the lanes of Kathmandu. They would shout out the names within hearing of the entire lane. So I had to literally stay at home to make sure that I met the postman before he shouted and handed over the first letter. I somehow missed him. The postman came with the letter addressed to James Bond. My father told him we had no person by such a funny name. But the postman insisted on fulfilling his errand as the address was correct. So he left the letter behind. In the evening, my father asked me if I knew a James Bond. My heart sank out of trepidation and thought I had been caught. But I regained my composure quickly and tried to deflect my response. 

“Yeah,” I replied, “he is a Scottish actor name Sean Connery.” My father said, “The letter could not have come for him at our address.” I exclaimed, “Oh, the letter, that’s for a hippie on Freak Street with whom I shared hot lemons and apple pies.” He asked me, “What do you do in Freak Street?” I told him the truth, “I practice my English with these guys.” 

My father gave the letter to me, and I espied that thankfully there was no sender’s name or address on the envelope. Relieved, I put the letter on the pillow and went to sleep. The following day I went to Freak Street with the letter and read it in the dim, smoke-filled dingy cafe. A few more letters arrived before Reza frantically asked me to come and get her as her parents had arranged a boy for her marriage. As it was not possible to go and get her without money, home, job, unfinished education, I wrote to her to obey her parents’ wishes and have a happy married life. I could not sleep the whole night, but there was nothing much I could do.

Published: 02-05-2018 08:54

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