Here’s a little flashback to our work in Melamchi during the monsoon season, which is a world away from the environment we are working in now.
Below is an account of my last day in Melamchi as told by Nick Sun.
Originally posted on Medium by Nick Sun.
I did that thing where you go to bed drunk around 1am, and then wake up at 3am and can’t go back to sleep, and instead of getting up and being constructive, you just lie there, arguing with people in your head, yelling the things you didn’t have the courage to say to their faces in real life until you were all wound up and pissed off for no reason. I lay there inert and silent, arguing mostly with May and Lacey that day, listing various complaints and grievances that I had with them.
‘It’s not fair! We’re volunteers, not slaves!’ I yapped petulantly to no one.
‘I am so sick of being talked down to in the condescending way that you guys do. The reason why we don’t communicate to you is because you admin people are so crabby to us all the time!’ ‘I’m sorry, but before you ask me to extend me stay here, I just want to say that no, I don’t want to extend my stay here. You make us feel like we are immature children you stinky peepee heads! You make us feel like we are in highschool for goshdarned sake! I’m a 33 yr old adult man okay? A 33 yr old adult man who penetrated a dead pig’s sphincters with a rag on a stick the other week, and I deserve to be treated like one okay??’ ‘I’ve had it up to here with being talked to the way you do. I can’t even say anything to you guys because you’re so grumpy whenever we do!’
After about 3 healthy hours of this, I felt sufficiently incensed enough to get up and eat some pancakes.
‘Mmmm pancakes.’ I said, as I spooned the half cooked batter with syrup already mixed into it, into my mouth.
Nothing beat pancakes.
After working with Bull to the end of his run, I’d asked to be back on demo for my own final week on project but May had dismissed me with a snort of derisive laughter. It didn’t make much sense, demo needed one extra guy to make an even number and rubble had too many people anyway.
‘Why can’t I go back to demo May?’
‘Because you flipflop too much.’
I shrugged. The end of my stay in Malemchi was in sight and I was too tired to care. Everyone was too tired to care. Most of us had forgotten why we were there in the first place. This was just our life now and that was that. Also the monsoon rain had been so bad in the recent days that I predicted that even if I was on demo, we wouldn’t be able to get out to the sites, and demo would have to do rubble instead. My prediction was true and I headed out to a rubble site with a few of the demo crew and a few of the new flush of recruits. Eleven new recruits had turned up at Malemchi a few days ago and many of us hardened veterans regarded them with suspicion.
‘They look like a bunch of soft cocks to me.’ Bull had said as he surveyed the fresh meat disdainfully just before he left. There were however, several attractive members of the opposite sex now and it was nice to have a more evenly mixed crew. It made the predominantly male members of the original Malemchi crew drink less, swear less and lift their workload, knowing that there were suddenly pretty girls to impress with our stupid, pathetic, sexual frustration fuelled male strength.
‘Uh, uh.’ I grunted as I strained to simultaneously lift two huge logs and three new hernias that popped out of my groin and lower abdominals like truffles of pain, in front of Morio, an attractive Portugese girl.
‘Wow, ummm, strong man.’ She said with concern, as I bled out of my eyes. ‘Oh… This? Oh it’s nothing… Just trying to… Help… Nepal…’ I said gritting through the pain and pushing my prolapsed sphincter back up my anus, back into my lower colon as I walked to the next large log to be picked up. The ironic thing was, that even if anyone did get with each other, short of a flooded rice paddy, there was really nowhere to consummate any would-be fling as we were in a hyper-social, inescapable, communal living situation. Short of a forced weekend gangbang in the common room, the only viable solution I decided was to lobby for a designated ‘fuck room’ where star crossed lovers could consummate their mutual boredom in privacy. I suggested to May the idea and propositioned that the mildew infested, basement broom closet, the blood-stained patio of the chicken slaughter house next door and/or the smoldering, carcinogenic, mostly plastic rubbish filled garbage dump at the bottom of the Hotel yard were all viable options for such on-project romances, but she just stared at me with her head cocked, as if she was trying to work out whether I was an idiot or not.
I guess she just wasn’t a romantic like me.
The road to the site we were being driven out to had been affected by several landslides caused by the heavy raining overnight.
‘Oooh I don’t like the look of them.’ Said Sonya, our new recruit and team leader.
Softcock. I heard Bull’s voice echo inside of me. I realized from meeting Sonya that I was automatically prejudiced against people with double barreled surnames and posh English accents.
We got to the site and did all of about 40 minutes of work in the drizzling rain before Sonya called it off. ‘We should go. It’s raining.’ She said. ‘Why? We have a rare concrete surface to shovel off. It’s really enjoyable. I want the pleasure.’ I said.
‘Isn’t it dangerous to drive along the landslides though? The road isn’t in the best of conditions.’ She said. Sure, the roads we’d driven on to get to this site weren’t ideal but I’d seen far worse roads and far worse landslides in the past weeks.
Softcock. I heard Bull’s voice echo inside of me, privately feeling that I was somehow better than her.
‘Dunno. Maybe for you it is. But for me? Hell, this is like a holiday on the beach, just another day helping out the needy. Heck, I seen plenty of landslides and roads rougher than this one. Life is dangerous. You gotta take risks if you wanna live.’ I said gruffly.
‘Let’s go. I’m calling it. It’s not worth it. We need to go.’
Grumbling I packed up the tools and headed back to base. As soon as we got there, we were sent out to another site where another team was working at. This site was even more dangerous than the last. It had been raining the whole time there and the site was a mudslick. There was a long muddy slope that dipped down and then up a treacherous ramp to where the rockpile was. Carrot and Paddy were running the wheelbarrows down the gauntlet, yelling like madmen, slipping and sliding in the vague direction of the rockpile. They’d painted their face in mud like primitive warriors in preparations of a heroic death.
‘Ve could die doing zis! It’s fucking GREAT!’ Carrot yelled. The new recruits were all huddled down the other end of the site watching us with concern. ‘Let me take one!’ I said, grabbing the wheelbarrow off Carrot and making my way down the muddy path. The wheelbarrow was difficult to control and at some point you had to just rely on faith to pull you safely to the end. One false move and you could twist your entire ankle off your foot, there was no doubt about that. You would have to live out the rest of your days with the moniker ‘No Foot Pete.’ Or ‘Doctor Stumpo’ or even ‘Professor Stumpologist’. I managed to get to the end of the ramp and just as I was about to dump the rocks, I slipped over, dumping my load all over the ramp and bruising my ankle in the process.
‘FUCK YEAH!!!’ I screamed.
‘FUCK YEAH!!!’ Screamed Carrot and Paddy. I dipped my hand into the dark mud at my feet and rubbed it all over my cheeks, a pungent waft of rotting animal matter filling my nostrils.
‘YAAARRRGGHHH!!!’ I screamed, arms wide, face upturned to the rain.
‘I think you guys have been here too long.’ Said the Lesley, the new recruit team leader, with genuine concern in her eyes. I stood there wild-eyed, breathing heavily with the stinking mud dripping down my cheeks, the veterans and I on one side of the site, staring back at the alienated faces of the new recruits on the other.
Maybe we had been there too long.
I couldn’t tell anymore.
Lesley called it for the day.
‘I’m sorry guys it’s just too dangerous now.’ She explained.
‘It’s only dangerous if you’re not careful.’ I said rubbing the painful new bruise I had acquired on my left shin.
‘I’m sorry. But I can’t let anyone get injured. No more wheelbarrows.’
‘Well if we can’t do regular wheelbarrows, we can do human wheelbarrows.’
‘Allow me to demonstrate.’ I motioned for the others to start stacking my arms with rocks. I got about eight that went all the way up to my chin and then got them to put a few more in the gap between my arms and torso. It was a method Bull had taught us.
‘The… Human…Wheelbarrow…’ I said with great effort, as i teetered under the crushing weight towards the rockpile and deliberately past Annena, an attractive Polish girl.
‘Oh… uhh hey Annena… Fancy… Seeing you… Here uhhh just… Umm… Trying to… Help… Poverty-ridden… Tragedy-afflicted… Lower caste… Brown people…’
‘You’re weird.’ Said Lesley.
We packed up and gingerly I got back into the car to head back to base. It didn’t seem right. I had two days left on project and I wanted to make every second count. There was no way I was heading back to base to do some more pointless tasks that Lacey had dreamed up. Fuck that. I knew there was another site up the hill within walking distance that I’d worked on the other day, so when the jeep got to the junction, I suddenly flung the door open and ran out.
‘Only tell them where I am if they ask!’ I yelled at Carrot, making my escape and running up the hill to join the other team. I couldn’t remember where the site was, but I could hear loud music and the voices of people wooping and cheering in the distance so I headed towards that. I arrived on site to see seven of my colleagues covered in head to toe with mud, dancing and waving tools in the air like it was the afterparty at the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.
‘It’s Dick!’ yelled Marta, a cool American lady who was into birdwatching and not taking things too seriously. Marta grabbed a hand full of mud and shoved it down my shirt. Mark ran over and tackled me into the mud, pulling Marta down with me in the process. We all lay there laughing, wallowing in the mud like hogs. These were my people. No softcocks here, except for maybe the one new recruit in the team who stood on the other side of pile completely clean, watching us perplexedly.
‘You’re all weird.’ She said.
‘Technically, you’re in the minority so that means you’re weird.’ I said.
The site was just as much of a mudbath as the last and pushing the wheelbarrows was again, pointless.
‘Fuck regular wheelbarrows guys, in this weather, it’s all about the human wheelbarrow.’ I said, demonstrating the technique and struggling under the load to get to the rockpile.
In my attempt to human wheelbarrow, the sole of my left boot came loose, nearly tripping me over in the process. I managed to dump the rocks half on the pile and half out, standing like a one legged pelican in an ocean of mud after I’d finished.
‘Squark!’ I called, a singular, plaintive syllable echoing through the wilderness.
‘SQUARK!! SQUARK!!!’ I said again, flapping my arms this time. I stared at my mangled shoe. It seemed fitting for it to be falling apart one and a half days from the end of my time on project. I wrapped my boot in some telephone cable I found but it was no use. After a few steps, it would come undone and the sole would flap out from under the rest of the shoe like a hanging, lower rubber jaw. While on waterbreak I grabbed the sole and began to move it up and down like puppet’s mouth.
‘My name’s Shoopy and I just want to say all the softcocks who left their sites today are a bunch of softcocks.’ Shoopy said in a cartoonish Brooklyn accent.
‘You’re weird.’ Said the new recruit.
‘No you’re weird you fucken softcock!’ said Shoopy.
‘Shoopy! You can’t say that to the new recruit! That’s just plain rude!’ I said to Shoopy.
‘But she is a softcock! There all a bunch of softcocks! Softcocks softcocks softcocks!’ Shoopy said, his voice rising.
‘Shoopy, where did you learn such terrible language? I am embarrassed to even wear you on my foot, young shoe.’
‘You can suck my dick if I had one asshole!’ Said Shoopy.
‘Well I just hope you learn to be bit more civilized when we get back to base.’
‘Go fuck yourself buttwipe!’ Shoopy yelled.
We went back for lunch to find the base in disarray. Several of the new recruits were at May’s desk complaining about the working conditions that day. May sat there calmy weathering the storm, rubbing the side of her temples and looking tired. The new recruits claimed they’d been put in danger out of pure negligence on Admin’s behalf.
Softcocks. I heard Bull’s voice echo inside of me. May called for an open meeting and a general discussion after lunch. She then approached me.
‘Hey Dick, I need your honest opinion: Was it dangerous working out there today?’ May asked me while I was eating. I thought about it.
‘Honestly? I don’t know anymore.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I can’t really tell anymore. We’ve been living like this for long enough for it to all seem normal to us now. I have a talking shoe on my left foot that tells me so. I hear landslides at night and they sound reassuring to me now. I didn’t even notice the last few tremors, I just thought maybe it was cause I was had the shakes from not drinking enough rakshi before breakfast. Nothing bad has happened so far, but then again, all these new guys seem to be worried and maybe having fresh eyes they got a point.’
I grabbed Shoopy’s lower jaw and began to move it up and down.
‘Or they could just be a bunch of softcocks.’ Shoopy said in his gravelly voice.
‘Shoopy! I told you, no more abusing people with what you really think of them!’
‘Shut up softcock! Softcock softcock softcock!’
May stared at me with her head cocked, as if she was trying to work out whether I was an idiot or not.
It was pretty clear.
‘Right… Right… I think maybe we have all been here too long… I think I need a holiday.’ She said, walking off and rubbing her temples.
After lunch we had an open meeting. This was it. My opportunity to say everything we had been saying behind their backs to May and Lacey’s faces. I had already rehearsed my lines when I had woken up prematurely that morning anyway.
The meeting got off to a slow start. There was a lot of bandying about and skirting around the issues. Finally I had enough. I raised my hand,
‘I just want to say that it’s not fair the way you treat us! We’re volunteers, not slaves!’ I yapped petulantly to everyone.
‘Can’t we have a little flexibility here? Can’t we have an extra day off, or a chance to work with a friend who’s leaving the project… Is it really too much to ask from you??’ I stood up and began circling like a demented bird, stabbing the air with my finger to emphasise my points.
‘And I am so sick of being talked down to in the condescending way that you guys do. The reason why we don’t communicate to you is because you admin people are so crabby to us all the time! And I’m sorry, but before you ask me to extend me stay here, I just want to say that no, I don’t want to extend my stay here. You make us feel like we are immature children you stinky peepee heads! You make us feel like we are in highschool for gosh darned sake! I’m a 33 yr old adult man okay? A 33 yr old adult man who penetrated a dead pig’s sphincters with a rag on a stick the other week, and I deserve to be treated like one okay??’ I stopped speaking and sat down, hyperventilating.
No one said anything for a while.
‘So did you mean you deserved to be treated like a 33 yr old adult man, a dead pig’s sphincter or ze rag on a stick that voz used to penetrate ze dead pigs sphincter?’ Carrot asked me. I thought about it for a while.
‘They’re all pretty shitty options aren’t they?’
After lunch we didn’t go back on site. Those of us who wanted to, which was basically the last group i had been with were pissed off. Those who didn’t want to go back on site were pissed off as well. May went upstairs to have a minor breakdown in the privacy of her room. Lacey put on her earphones and hid in the office with her back to us.
With nothing to do, we sat around drinking rakshi and listening to Shoopy, the voice of the people, expressing our collective discontent. This was our Arab Spring. This was our Beerhall Putsch.
‘Freedom is only experienced through the elimination of power structures and the fascist leaders that preside over them!’ Shoopy drunkenly yelled.
Eventually Lacey came around. She seemed sheepish, drained of her power and cowed by the people’s uprising.
‘Umm guys, I know it’s been a weird day but I have a list of tasks that maybe you guys can go do.’ I scanned the list she gave me which included things like organizing the free box and cleaning the fly traps that didn’t work anyway.
‘You can shove it up your ass Lacey! The peasants have the power now!’ Shoopy screeched.
‘Shoopy! How could you?’ I replied in shock.
‘Where did you learn those awful words? Don’t you know Lacey is just trying to do the job she to thrown into the deep end of, the best she can?’
‘She can go shove it up her fucken ass!’ Shoopy squeaked.
We all laughed, except Lacey, who frowned and promptly left to go back into hiding.
We kept drinking.
Everything was falling apart.
It was great.