If You Must Betray Me, Kathmandu

If you must betray me, Kathmandu, do it in the night.
When the day begins, you are understandably
terrified of the tourists plaguing the insides
of your intestines who make their way from
Gaushala down to the confines of the ring road
that ties you to the modern austerities of
Tribhuvan Airport. You had to be coaxed
to open your doors at six in the morning.

When the day begins nothing remains except
the carcasses of the lepers who jumped
out of the junipers that line themselves across
the thumbnail-sized windows of Old Baneswor.
This is where Manjushree Thapa’s family home
adorns itself with a garden filled with yellow leaves.
When you speak of yellowing leaves, Kathmandu,
leave out those streets of Nag Pokhari

And those intensely confusing houses near Naxal.
It doesn’t lend its name to the movement
which engulfed and almost burnt you down.
If you feel like a little self-love, go to Thamel
and watch with astonishing ease as
Man turns himself into Animal and pushes his
chastity behind the dust of Jyatha’s authentic
Thakali Bhancha Ghars. Or turn a blind eye.

Take the winding route down Ason and get on
the bus to heaven from Ratna Park. Begin
to marvel at the destruction that seemed
to coexist in harmony with the bourgeoisie
that Thapa had enumerated well in her painful
books. Twist my arms, Kathmandu, before beginning
the arduous trek north to Swayambhu and disregard
the images of what the world had known of you.

Forget Hanuman Dhoka and take the serpentine road
before your inner self begs you not to go
where you will be led astray; hop onto
my back as I lead you towards the bungalows
of the maharajahs who exploited your
generosity – who can’t possibly loiter about
Narayanihiti if they had some shame. Pay
your respects before you make the long trek

Up to Swayambhu on foot. I’ll lend you my
shoulders if you have the veracity to ask for them.
You are a paradox, Kathmandu, entrapped by
the naivete of your people and liberated by
their tenacity. Flamboyance once made its
home inside you near Maharajgunj but you
threw her out the way she came from Tundikhel.
You could not be understood, yet you could be loved.

Mohul Bhowmick is a national-level cricketer and passionate writer. He has published three books of poetry and one travelogue. His latest work ‘Seeking Kathmandu: Travails of a solo traveller across Nepal’ is now out.

Featured image credit: Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz/Pixabay