by Khem K. Aryal
Most boys in the town of Kalikanagar grew up into full-blown men at the age of fifteen or sixteen. But Chintamani Pandey found one day that his son—already eighteen—had stopped growing a couple of years before—not so much physically, but otherwise; the boy’s peers had left him behind.
Some of the boys drove public buses, and the drivers treated their assistants like ten-year-old kids—some of them really were ten years old. Some managed their fathers’ shops, and the customers called the boys sahuji, respected shopkeeper; some of the customers even called the teenage boys dai, older brother, although the customers might have grandchildren the shopkeepers’ age. Some boys helped the drivers wash their TATA buses and Mahindra jeeps in the nearby stream, and some repaired radios. One was even a painter who’d put a sign in front of his shop: Kanchan Arts, in English, cursive fonts—Kanchan being his wife’s name—and wrote signboards and banners for political parties. Some others who didn’t have such involvements—those unlucky souls—formed local gangs, readily waiting to call anyone a motherfucker for no reason and start a duel, and to sell themselves to political parties during elections. Continue reading