When younger, spent much time in a sinister, sinewy alleyway that snaked sibilant past shops, homes and boys smoking illicit substances packed hastily into cigarettes. North end of.Kathmandu, past Chakrapath, towards Budhanilkantha, turn left into Kapan Marg, and into alleyway, come out on other side onto Milijuli Told. Frequented by menacing long-haired man-boys, smoking, drinking, and occasional stony-hearted and disapproving locals braving a shortcut. High brick walls left tell-tale crimson smears on backs.of.shirts when leaned against, like markings of adultery.
First, walk innocent hand-in-hand on main street. Then, walk closer so that hips interlock and arms wrap around torsos. Later, turn into alleyway, know all well what is to come. In semi-darkness, migrate hands to hair and pull close. Lock lips and pay heed to little else. Still, keep one ear cocked for approaching sounds, rustle of plastic bag, padding of feet on stones, hum of voices rising as get closer.
There, kissed girls frantically with passion reserved for budding libidos. Like many limbed gods, groped and grabbed, bodies straining against the other as if lives depended on exchange of sparring tongues, interrupted all too often by foot traffic. Spring apart on sound of approaching feet and walk away red-faced and ashamed, as if caught doing something illegal. Those older who passed, knew, and threw disapproving glances like empty bottles tossed after drink, drank, drunk. But youth too.discarded shame as easily as tossing back of a veil. And back at it, yearning.
Without private spaces, unsavoury gallies only refuge. Hidden from prying eyes, teenage needs forcefully ssuppressed boiled to surface. Palms against skin and hands under shirts, conjoined at the mouth, as if each resuscitating other from drowning. Almost always too chaste, too brief, little time and even less space. Stolen kisses in dark alleyways. All that was.
(A shorter, edited version of this piece was published on Nepali Times, along with a host of other great writing centered around Kathmandu, as a Dashain special. Here: http://nepalitimes.com/page/alley-ways-galli-salliharuma-special)