So that was the first time when I had been called by something like that. The word Pakhe didn’t have much importance in my earlier life though I had heard and seen that word being given as a nickname to someone else but me, no. But now I was forced to understand the meaning of that word.
I was new in Kathmandu as I was here only for my Bachelor’s study. I had completed my studies up to +2 from Biratnagar and had been to Kathmandu only few times, even that either to spend my holidays or for educational tour. Now I was in Kathmandu for at least 3 or 4 years depending on the time taken by the college to finish the courses.
The college which I had joined had good hostel facility. The buildings of hostel had their own numbers and had been divided according to the year of the students. First year students had to live in Building 1 whereas the final year students had to live in Building 3. So, in a sense, students were safe from ragging.
First day of my college life in Kathmandu was quite disappointing. I reached the college in time. I went inside the classroom or should I call it The Lecture Hall. I placed my bag in a seat of 2nd row and came outside. I thought where to go before I proceeded toward the basketball court. Two teams were already on the game and were vying to defeat each other. I simply stood there watching the game. There were few other students near by the court. I could guess they were the seniors. One of them motioned me to come near them. I moved toward him without a single ounce of hesitance.
The guy who had motioned me asked, “New student huh?”
I simply replied yes. But I was quite amazed to hear them talk in English rather than in Nepali, may be it was the influence of the private college and high amount of fee that students had to pay. They used very few Nepali words even which were modernized, not those that can be found in Shabdakosh. I think they were happy to hear that I was a new student because I could see the sparkle in their eyes.
They said to me that they were going to ask me few questions and I must reply to their questions properly or they could make my coming years in this college, a hell. I was afraid by their proclamation so I accepted their proposal without any haste.
The questions were simple. It was like having a tête-à-tête with a newly met stranger rather than question – answer session which I had thought it to be. They asked me questions like what my name was, my address, where had I completed my studies up to +2 and so on. And I answered them all.
Then they said, “Now the last question. Be ready for it as the answer for this question highly matters. So, tell me, how you describe this lady standing by my side?”
I looked at that lady standing by the inquirer. I took my time and said, “Umm, Pretty and Beautiful.”
She was taken aback by my reply. I hadn’t guessed this sort of thing could happen due to a mere reply to the question.
She shouted, “You fool. I am hot, bold and sizzling and you simply describe me as pretty and beautiful as if I am some Behenji type girl. Pakhe”
Her face showed the blazing fire like volcano that was inside her and could erupt anytime causing even greater damage. So before something could happen I moved from that basketball court.
So, see that’s how I had been entitled with that 5 letters word for the first time. The word which meant uncivilised person was used for me just because I wasn’t able to describe that lady as she was wishing for. Later on I found out that since seniors were not able to do ragging in the hostel, they had been using this sort of humiliation for their own entertainment and as a replacement of the ragging. Some others also had been made a laughing stock by same group or “Gang” to be more precise but to be entitled with the word Pakhe was me only.
From that day my personal assignment of being a civilized person (in the context of Kathmandu) started. The final date for the completion of the assignment was not fixed but I knew that the rate of my hanging out with the Kathmandu’s local friends was inversely proportional to time taken by me to be a civilized person.
So I started to hangout with my friend as much as possible. I was able to make many new friends as I had a special attribute to be able to be friend with anyone and that attribute helped me a lot. There were many acquaintances but by the next six month I had my own circle of 7 students (4 boys and 3 girls), including me. We were quite close to each other and I was selected as the main one or the leader of the group as I was good in study (that’s what they said) and could make friend more easily than others.
I started to learn from them about how to be more like a local of Kathmandu. Since locals had so many years of experience, learning to be like one of them was hell lot harder than I had originally anticipated. But I was not to give up easily. I learned from them how to react to something as the reaction depended on the size of its nature i.e. whether it’s very big news or was a mere rumour. I learned from them how to make use of other people for own benefits (not offensively). Needless to say, I learned many things.
Once we made plan to go to watch a movie in Kumari Hall on a weekend. I was excited and happy to go to the movie theatre as I had gone only once to watch the movie in Kathmandu’s movie hall even that was with my uncle. When we reached there, we had to buy our tickets ourselves. When I asked for the price of a ticket, I was shocked to know it cost Rs.175 whereas in Biratnagar we could buy a ticket by Rs.45 only. Thank goodness I had enough money to buy the ticket.
But I could hear a girl standing behind me talking with another girl about me.
She said to her friend, “Did you just see that Pakhe being shocked by knowing the price of the ticket?”
She was our senior and I knew that I was famous among them as Pakhe. That day, I learned new lesson and that was; never be surprised by the price of anything in front of others however expensive you might find that thing to be (in Kathmandu).
The things that I had been learning day by day were being implemented in my behaviour as soon as I learned them. By the end of the year I was perfect in making someone else do my task for me and they would do it without questioning me.
Our study and my learning process were going simultaneously without any hindrances. The seniors among whom I was famous being Pakhe had already completed their study. But new seniors were like the previous one, trying to make fun of the juniors.
In my second year of college, I was able to learn from my group how to bunk the classes without getting under any troubles. We bunked classes few times but we were always attentive in the classroom. Whenever we bunked classes, we would take notes from other students due to which we never had problem in understanding the lessons.
We were one hell kind of group as no one was there who didn’t like studies but everyone was always eager and ready to bunk the class to watch that latest released movie. We not only studied but played various games as well. Every one among our group was sporty. Our circle was amazing and we thought of giving it a name. After much thinking we came up with the name “LEGENDS” using the initials of each member. We were also selected in college’s basketball team among the seniors. But whenever I did a mistake while playing, the seniors would be ready to congratulate me with that one word.
I learned a new lesson from their humiliation and that was; every one is helpless in front of the powerful and whole power was bestowed on them just being the seniors. But being senior wasn’t sufficient, you had to be ruthless, supportive and in a unity at once to be able to use that power.
By the end of that year I was able to whistle at a passing by girl without getting her slap, mock the juniors if they made a silly mistake and even categories and describe a girl by her figure i.e. whether she was beautiful, hot, or the highest category “An Item”. The simple and casual I had turned into a gregarious party animal. Partying and going to disco hubs became a routine for every weekend. Actually the second year taught me things that were required to be the senior most student of the college. Being the senior would also bring responsibilities and the second year prepared me for those upcoming responsibilities. And most importantly our group had turned into a “Gang”.
We all completed the second year and the results were amazing. Most of the highest scorers were from our group. The final year came and brought in the responsibilities and the power of the senior students at once. We were the most sought after students for any problem related to academia but we were also the most ruthless and mischievous students if it came for the mischief. And we had the “Gang” that was required to run the legacy of the ex – seniors of that college.
Then there came the fresh batch of students for the college. We all were waiting near the gate to look at the students whose faces dripped with innocence and a kind of nervousness that students always face while coping with new environment. There were also few students who totally looked like bullies and could be easily guessed that they were going to give a lot of trouble to both the college and the students.
From those many students entering the gate, there was a student who looked as if he had come to Kathmandu for the first time as he was paying attention to anything that came across him (it’s an attribute that can never be missed or could be wrong). I stopped him and asked his name and where he was from and where had he completed his earlier studies. He answered me quickly. He told he was in Kathmandu for the first time and even that solely for the studies. I had found the right guy to play prank upon that our “Gang” had prepared just to legalise our rule as seniors.
We conversed for quite a while. He had become friendlier and his nervousness had already faded away. Then I told him, “Now the last question. How do you describe that lady standing by the garden?” showing him my girlfriend who had accepted my proposal last year. She was standing there just to make this prank more lively and vivacious.
The boy looked at her, his eyes twinkling with covetousness and desire. His all innocence melted away like ice melts near fire. Then he replied, “That girl is an Item.”
After hearing his reply one of my female friends standing by my side slapped him hard and shouted, “Don’t you have manners? How dare you call someone “an Item” in front of us seniors? Go and be more civilized. Pakhe”
The last word was given more emphasis by her. The boy moved towards his classroom being embarrassed. We all laughed boisterously as our plan had gone as proposed or even better. I was laughing too but I was more content with my laughter because I had found someone to pass upon my legacy as a Pakhe.