Some of you have stopped the Ass in the street this week to ask questions like: “Which way is the country headed?” or “Is there going to be a constitution?” or “Have you seen PK yet?”
Being a veteran correspondent who believes that with great press freedom comes great responsibility, I am used to these questions and always make it a point to answer good-naturedly: “How the bloody hell should I know?” In fact, we hacks are as clueless, if not more clueless, about what is going on in this country as most of you, our valued clients. (The only difference is that we keep it a closely guarded secret.)
Even so, after decades of experience deciphering press statements that don’t say anything, we have become experts at reading between the lines. For instance, if the leaders of the opposition alliance and the leaders of the ruling coalition are described by their respective spokes as having had a “free and frank exchange of views at Singha Darbar” one can be sure they came to blows and one of them suffered a dislocated eyeball.
If, on the other hand, a one-on-one meeting between the UML Chair and the Indian ambassador in Balkot is described as being conducted in a “cordial and friendly atmosphere”, then it would be a safe bet that the two leaders probably sat face-to-face in stony silence for one hour and forty-five minutes until at least one of them fell asleep on the sofa out of sheer boredom.
Decades of experience has also made some of us in the media specialists in the art of reading body language and gestures when VIPs meet. How tight was the embrace between Obama and Modi, and were they also cheek-to-cheek or just cheek-to-jowl? How long did the bear-hug between Namo and Suko last when they met at the SAARC Summit? What about eye contact, if any? Did one of them, unbeknownst to the press corps, have the other by the gonads?
The good thing about covering Nepali politics these days is that with all the verbal brickbats and non-verbal chairs being hurled around by politicians, one can be sure that what one sees is what one gets. There is no attempt to maintain diplomatic niceties and camouflage one leader’s feeling towards the other, no attempt to beat around the bush. We give it straight.
So, Comrade Oily accuses Baddie Dudes of asking for 10 Arabs in bribe to call off their agitation. The Cash Comrades, pooh-poohed it. “Whadya think, we would sell ourselves for so cheap?”
BRB, PhD, seems to be some kind of Freudian sexpert. For the last couple of years he has been making politically incorrect remarks casting aspersions about the gender, if any, of the UML (or to give the party’s full name: the Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist-Leninists). Why a communistic party would have a gender classification, and who decides whether a party is male or female, has never been satisfactorily answered. But Comrade Red Flag seems to be unduly curious about whether the UML is a) male b) female c) other [tick one] and seems to have come to the definitive conclusion that the party is actually hermaphrodite. This week in a tweet, the atheist Doc compared the UML to androgynous characters from Hindu mythology, and even went as far as to say that the Unfied Marxist-Leninists are impotent eunuchs, compared to his own gloriously virile party.
Not to be outdone, the Maoist-Madhesi Dalliance passed a strongly-worded resolution recommending that Comrade Oily get his head examined by a certified psychiatrist at state expense. Warming up to the theme, Awesome then went on to tell the meeting that as penance for having gone soft on the revolution, he’d also like to have his head cracked open and let the blood cleanse him.
By this point in this article, many readers must be laughing your heads off. “Hahahahahahaha,” you may be saying. “Hohohohohoho. Ass, you have really outdone yourself this week.”
Sorry to disappoint you, dear customers, but the Ass is not making any of this up. Those are actual quotes from Nepal’s top political leadership. It’s all deadly serious.