Nepali Times
Dating Comrade Natasha


Remember the evening I first saw her at Butwal Lodge in Kalanki. I was there to meet a friend. But his bus had not yet arrived from Jajarkot. I decided to wait. In that dimly-lit lobby where shadowy figures flitted about, she was sitting in a corner-all alone and looking like a cross between Martina Navratilova and Shivani Singh Tharu.

I flashed my Everest toothpaste smile. She scowled back. I asked whether she had a cigarette. Assuming a quick kung-fu pose, she showed me a stick of explosives. When she later shook my hand to say goodnight, it hurt for hours. Little did I know that inflicting pain was her damningly seductive way of breaking ice: "You are cool and I am hot. Dinner tomorrow?"

We met for dal-bhat the following evening at Madan Bhojanalaya-a hideaway that was miles away from any police station. She showed up, dressed-to-kill: khaki fatigues, combat boots and a rifle slung from her left shoulder. Before sitting down, she frisked me from head to toe, pausing briefly to massage my pant-pockets for any concealed weapon. In no time though, with the glow from Tiger Lalteen bouncing off her face, we were whispering sweet nothings. She was Comrade Natasha, a rising star at the Destruction & Mayhem Bureau. She said she had instructions to finish "certain work" at Sanychayakosh buildings. I patted her cheeks, teasing that a bombshell like her should not work too hard.

You see, the thing about having an underground girlfriend was that you could never call her. You sat by the phone and waited for it to ring. When I didn't hear from her for days, I worried that the worst had happened. But when we did meet, we never visited Himalayan Java to snuggle on the couch. Nor did we go to Nanglo's Rooftop for sizzlers. Too risky, she chided. Instead, we met for pani-puri at back-alley eateries, far from army check-posts, where rats fought with roaches for leftovers on the floor.

Often, exhausted by the demands of her revolutionary war, she would visit me, only to leave at dusk with a pressure-cooker. Once I asked why she ran off with my kitchen utensils. She gave me that come-hither glance and soon had me tied up in a perform-or-perish Khajurao position, which was enjoyable.

To replenish supply, I continued buying pressure-cookers from a sahu down the road. After seeing on Nepal TV what had become of the cookers he sold earlier, he was too afraid to charge me money. Even the neighbourhood dadas, who used to beat me up before, bowed low with respect once they saw who I was with. Having a rebel lover meant access to power, influence, fun and wads of cash looted from banks.

But such times were too good to last. Eventually, politics destroyed our relationship. She asked me to prove my love by going underground. I told her I couldn't sink that low. Besides, I lived in a basement already. She wanted help with blowing up telecom towers. When she saw that all I could blow up were balloons, her disappointment was profound. She ordered that I criticise myself for disobedience. I smiled and tickled her nape with a peacock feather. But she shoved me aside. Putting the gun to the middle of my forehead, she announced that she had stripped me of all romantic rights and demoted me to an "ordinary lover" status. She growled that she might have to kill me to show how much she cared for me. I was touched that her love was so deadly serious. When we eventually did break up, I landed at Bir Hospital with 12 broken bones.

These days, I look back upon the whole affair and console myself that it was better to have loved and undergone a hip-replacement surgery than to have never loved at all.

Adapted from a stand-up comedy act, written and performed by the author exactly a year ago at Dhokaima Caf?.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)