Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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A Small Talk

When they came to our classroom, the only thing we couldn’t tell was whether they were Those-Who-Walk-at-Night or Those-Who-Make-You-Disappear. Lately, Those-Who-Walk-at-Night dressed in army fatigues and Those-Who-Make-You-Disappear wore Goldstars as a disguise. Ghimire Sir was waxing lyrical about “Is Nepal small?” when the Moustache appeared at the doorless door and announced, We wish to have a small talk with you.

The other two surveyed the playground. The Boy was of our age—too young to become Those-Who-Make-You-Disappear but could have been an informant from a neighboring village. Beneath the guava tree, he found our deflated soccer ball and kicked it with his toes at the Rifle. The Rifle seemed unimpressed. The Boy walked over to the ball and, with an apologetic grin, passed it back to himself.

Let me give them some classwork, Ghimire Sir said through a sheet of snow. On the board, he wrote in his impeccable hand: Why does Devkota compare Nepal to the pupil of the eye? The Moustache barked, Students, write well! Make your sir proud! We felt ridiculed. When he smiled, we took comfort in the missing half of his lower lip. Ghimire Sir gave the chalk to Porcupine and, without looking at us, walked out.

The Boy led, our ball in his hand. Moustache and Rifle flanked Ghimire Sir. Once they crossed the barberry bush, we huddled by the paneless window. What’ll we play tomorrow, someone said. The bastard doesn’t even know how to kick it, another said. No teacher stepped outside. When the bell rang at last, the Principal Sir emerged from the outhouse. That afternoon we composed the most eloquent lines: The eye sees everything. . . . The pupil is where the light enters the body. . . . Nepal is no small talk. . . .

The Nepali period was moved to the end, and soon we started going home after Social Studies.  

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