The haze filtered the afternoon light and the evening colours were subdued to muted shades of brown and sepia. The mirror-surfaced lake at Pokhara had nothing to reflect.
The Annapurna range of mountains was obscured by smog, my view denied by environmental pollutants. It required the monsoon rain to clear the haze but that was still some months away.
In spite of this, the tranquil scène was heavenly to behold. A fisherman’s boat glided through the glassy waters and I captured the moment.
Two boy’s aged about eight and twelve circled near my location. They kept looking in my direction. I thought they were just being curious and I concentrated on the view before me. The eldest approached and asked in perfect English where I was from. I answered and we were quickly joined by the younger of the two. Some words were exchanged between them in their native tongue. I recomposed my picture and waited for another boat to float into the perfect position within my frame.
I suddenly became uneasy about the close proximity of the boys. I moved location and repositioned my tripod closer to the lake. Within minutes the two were standing by my side. Feeling uncomfortable I moved again. At this point the eldest spoke. Would you like a Nepalese Boy, he asked. The directness of his question confounded me initially. I like all Nepalese people, I stupidly replied.
His retort was even more direct. The language used made no secret of his intent.
The twelve year old was a pimp and the younger a rent boy.
I was repulsed. Overcome by a wave of nausea I quickly left the scene.
Later that evening while having dinner with my travelling companions I saw the same two boys standing by the road. A car stopped, some words were exchanged with the driver through an open window. The youngest boy got in and the car quickly accelerated into the darkness. My meal went untouched.
It was January in Nepal and I couldn’t help but think that some weeks previously in Ireland a boy of similar age was excited about what Santa Clause would bring. The innocence of children.