THE SOLDIER – a short story

January 10, 2013
THE SOLDIER
A Short Story
by
VIKRAM KARVE

Original Post Link on my Academic and Creative Writing Journal
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/01/the-pen-is-mightier-than-sword.html

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD

Short Fiction – A Soldier’s Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE
 
The Soldier sat on the footpath near the gate of the Accounts Office.
 
Abe Langde … Hat Wahan Se (Hey you one-legged cripple … Move from there)” a street-food cart vendor said, “Yeh Meri Jagah Hai (This is my place).”
 
The soldier winced.
 
Then he looked down at his amputated leg.
 
Yes, he was indeed a cripple, a langda.
 
When he had joined the army he had two strong legs.
 
And now he had just one leg and one stump.
 
He picked up his crutch, pushed his body up and slowly hobbled a few steps away and was about to sit under a shady canopy near the street corner when a traffic policeman shouted, “Ae Bhikari … Wahan Mat Baith (Hey Beggar … don’t sit there).”
 
Main Bhikari Nahin Hoon … Main Fauji Hoon (I am not a beggar … I am a soldier),” protested the soldier.
 
Phir Border Pe Ja Kar Lad (Then go and fight on the border),” the policeman said with sarcasm.
 
Wahi to kar raha tha (That is what I was doing),” the soldier mumbled to himself.
 
As the soldier tottered on the street on his crutches he talked to himself. He had been a fool to be brave. He should have played safe. At least he wouldn’t have lost his leg. And he wouldn’t have been discharged from the army as medically unfit.
 
Now he was being made to run from pillar to post for his disability pension because just because some clerk had “misplaced” his documents.
 
The soldier was exasperated.
 
In the army he was expected to do everything promptly and properly in double-quick time.
 
But these civilians were just not bothered.
 
First the paperwork was delayed due to red tape.
 
Then there were some careless typographical errors in his papers and his documents had to be sent back for the necessary corrections.
 
And now his papers had been misplaced.
 
It was sad.
 
Nobody was bothered about his plight.
 
The civilian babus comfortably cocooned in their secure 9 to 5 five-day-week jobs were slack and indifferent and did not give a damn for the soldiers they were meant to serve.
 
Civilians expected soldiers to be loyal unto the grave without offering loyalty in return.
 
“What is the big deal if you lost a leg?” one cruel clerk had remarked mockingly, “You soldiers are paid to fight. And if you die, or get wounded, it is a part of your job. You knew the risks before you joined, didn’t you? If you wanted to live a safe life why did you become a soldier? You should have become a chaprassi (peon) like your friend.”
 
Tears rolled down the soldier’s cheek as he thought of this.
 
Others were not so cruel and heartless, but their sympathy was tinged with scorn.
 
Indeed, he should have become a chaprassi like his friend who was now helping him get his disability pension.
 
Both he and his friend had been selected for the post of peon in a government office.
 
But he had been a fool – he told everyone that it was below his dignity to work as achaprassi and then he went to recruitment rally and joined the army as a soldier.
 
He made fun of his friend who took up the job of a peon and boasted with bloated pride about being a soldier.
 
And now the tables had turned and the peon was having the last laugh on the soldier.
 
The peon was secure in his job while the soldier was out on the street, crippled for life and begging for his pension.
 
And now his friend wasn’t even called a chaprassi – they had upgraded all Class-4 to Class-3 and his friend was now designated as “assistant”.
 
His friend would retire at the age of 60 after a safe, secure, easy, tension-free career without any transfers or hardships.
 
And if he got disabled they wouldn’t throw him out.
 
And if he died, his wife or son or daughter would get a job in his place.
 
Nothing like that for the soldier. He had to fend for himself.
 
The soldier felt disheartened.
 
He looked at his amputated leg and deeply regretted his decision to join the army.
 
Indeed he had made a mistake.
 
He would have been much better off as a peon or in some other civilian job.
 
The soldier also felt a sense of guilt that he had made fun of his friend.
 
Today he was at his friend’s mercy.
 
The soldier had to live on the kindness of the man he had once ridiculed and scoffed at.
 
It was a terrible feeling.
 
It was more than six months as he anxiously waited for his pension and dues.
 
His friend had given the soldier, and his family, shelter and food. And now he was trying to help him out by running around from office to office using the “peon network” to trace the misplaced papers.
 
The soldier felt sorry for his hapless wife.
 
She was at the mercy of his friend’s wife who openly derided her and made her displeasure quite clear by making scathing comments about the soldier, his wife and their children and kept on carping about how they were sponging on her hospitality like parasites.
 
The soldier’s wife hated his friend’s wife but she had to suffer the humiliation in silence and bear the daily insults – it was terrible to be at the mercy of someone who detested you.
 
Today the friend had asked the soldier to stand outside the gate and gone into the accounts office alone.
 
He had gone in alone because last time the soldier had spoilt everything by refusing to a pay a bribe to the accounts officer.
 
The soldier had even threatened the accounts officer that he would report the matter.
 
The accounts officer was furious: “Go and report. Nothing will happen. Now I will see to it that your papers are not traced until you die. What do you bloody soldiers think? That you can threaten us? This is not the army. This is the accounts office. Haven’t you heard the saying that the pen is mightier than the sword – now I will show you.”
 
Today his friend had gone inside to negotiate.
 
The clerks had told him not to bring the soldier inside the office as the egoistic accounts officer may get furious on seeing the soldier and everything will be spoilt.
 
Once everything was “settled”, they would try and trace the “misplaced” documents and he could take them out to obtain the soldier’s signature and resubmit the papers for clearance of the disability pension.
 
The soldier waited anxiously in the hot sun for his friend to come out. Angry thoughts buzzed in his mind.
 
“Ungrateful, corrupt people – all these civilians,” the soldier muttered to himself, “we sacrifice our life and limb for their sake and they humiliate us, even ask me to pay a bribe to get my own disability pension.”
 
“Patriotism, heroism, idealism – no one bothers about these things anymore. I made a mistake by joining the army,” he mumbled to himself, “I made a bigger mistake trying to be brave. What was the point of showing courage, initiative, daring and going beyond the call of duty to nab those guys? How does it matter if a few sneak in? Out here in the city, who is bothered about these things anyway? They don’t even know what is happening out there. Had I looked the other way no one would have known and I would not be a one-legged cripple – a langda. And even then, I wish they had shot me in the head and I had died. That would have been better”.
 
The soldier thought of his wife, his children, the bleak future awaiting them.
 
How long would they have to be dependent on the mercy of his friend and his loath wife?
 
He felt sad, very sad, as depressing thoughts of despondency and hopelessness perambulated in his brain.
 
He wondered whether his disability pension problem would be solved today.
 
It was taking long – his friend had gone in at 10 and it was almost 12 noon now.
 
The sweltering summer sun was hot and the soldier felt parched and weak.
 
He had drunk just a cup of tea since they started their journey to the accounts office in the city by bus from their friend’s home in the distant suburbs early in the morning.
 
Suddenly the soldier felt faint, so he walked towards the compound wall of the accounts office, took support and slid down to sit on his haunches.
 
At 12:30 his friend emerged from the gates of the accounts office. He was happy – the bribe had been paid, the documents had been promptly traced. Now all he had to do was get the soldier’s signature on the papers and he had been assured that the soldier’s disability pension and all his dues would be given within a month.
 
He began to look around for the soldier and saw him sitting strangely, propped against the wall.
 
The soldier’s eyes were closed and it seemed that he had fallen asleep.
 
Something seemed amiss, so he briskly walked towards the soldier, bent down and touched the soldier’s shoulder.
 
The soldier fell down to his side.
 
The friend panicked. He thought the soldier had fainted so he started shouting for help.
 
The traffic policeman, the street-cart vendor and some passers-by rushed to help.
 
The policeman told the vendor to sprinkle some water on the soldier’s face but nothing happened.
 
The policeman rang up the police control room for an ambulance.
 
“I hope he is not dead,” the friend said with trepidation.
 
“I don’t know. But it looks like he is totally unconscious. What happened? Who is he? He was muttering that he is a fauji – is he really a soldier?” the policeman asked.
 
The friend told the policeman the soldier’s story – the full story.
 
“Sad,” the policeman said, “very sad – the way they treat our soldiers.”
 
The ambulance arrived.
 
A paramedic examined the soldier and said, “I think he is dead. We will take him to the hospital. There the doctors will examine him and officially pronounce him dead.”
 
“The enemy’s bullets could not do what the babus did – the enemy’s bullets could not kill him but the these babus  killed him,” the policeman commented.
 
“Yes, the accounts officer was right,” the distraught friend said, “the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.”
 
 
VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

DEAD END – A Fiction Short Story

December 26, 2012

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: DEAD END – A Real Estate Crime Story.

Click the link above and read the story in my creative writing journal.

Short Fiction – CLIMAX – REUNION OF THE EXES – A Passionate Ex Sex Love and Lust Urban Adult Story

October 25, 2012

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: CLIMAX – REUNION OF THE EXES – A Passionate Ex Sex Love and Lust Urban Adult Story.

Click the link above and read the original story in my creative writing journal.

The story is also posted below for your convenience:

CLIMAX – REUNION OF THE EXES – A Passionate Ex Sex Love and Lust Urban Adult Story

Link to the Original Blog Post:
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/10/climax-reunion-of-exes-passionate-ex.html

Short Fiction by Vikram Karve
CLIMAX – REUNION OF THE EXES
 
From My Creative Writing Archives:
An Urban Adult Story (for a change)
Dear Reader: I wrote the story below titled REUNION as my entry for the Urban Stories Competition 2011. It is a story for Urban Adults. The stories were required to be set in an Urban backdrop in contemporary India.
Sadly, this story did not win a prize. I wonder why?
But that does not matter. This story still remains one of my favourites. 
So I am posting this story, once more, for you to read…
CLIMAX
REUNION of the EXES
Fiction Short Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE
The woman gradually came into consciousness from her drunken stupor. Her head throbbed with pain, her eyes ached, her throat felt dry, her tongue tasted bitter – it was a terrible hangover.
Streaks of diffused sunlight filtered in through the curtains of the solitary window. The woman opened her eyes but everything looked blurred. Slowly things began to come into focus. She wondered where she was – the strange room, the unfamiliar bed, scary unknown surroundings – she felt a tremor of trepidation. 
She decided to get up, go to the window, open the curtains, look outside and try to see where she was. But the moment she tried to get up, the blanket covering her body fell off and the woman realized that she was naked, stark naked.
She felt a shiver up her spine, then suddenly she was overcome by a nauseating stomach-churning fear that made her throw up, vomiting copiously all over the place, the bed, her body, and she retched again and again till there was nothing left inside her, and then she collapsed on the bed and passed out.
When the woman came back into consciousness again, she felt a cold wet towel on her forehead. She opened her eyes. A fresh new blanket covered her body. Someone had tried to clean up, even wiped her body clean, but there were still traces of her vomit here and there, her skin felt sticky and the place reeked with a disgusting stench.
“Feeling okay?” a male voice said from behind.
She recognized the voice at once and suddenly felt goose bumps all over her naked body inside the blanket.
“My clothes? What happened to my clothes?” the woman asked the man.
“I took them off,” the man said, matter-of-factly.
“You took my clothes off? How dare you? You get out of here. What are you doing here?” asked the woman.
“This is my room and that is my bed you’re lying down on,” the man answered.
“Your room?”
“You don’t remember anything, do you?”
“What happened?”
“I flew in from Singapore and checked in last evening. Then I had a shower and went down to pub for a drink and I was shocked to see you there – you were horribly drunk, downing tequila shot after shot, and making out with that lecherous firangi.”
“Making out? Lecherous firangi?
“I beat the shit out of him and threw him out.”
“You beat him up? Are you crazy? He is our most important client – he has come all the way here from America to see our Pune centre.”
“Important client, my foot – that doesn’t give him the right to get you drunk, out of your senses, and then take advantage of you. The bugger was trying to take you up to his room and screw you.”
“Maybe I wanted to be taken advantage of. Maybe I wanted him to screw me.” 
“You filthy drunken whore. I saved you. You should be grateful to me. If your husband found out…”
“Suppose I say my husband knows…”
“Bloody hell? Offshoring and Outsourcing – what a laugh!”
“What do you mean…?”
“An IT Czar offshoring his own wife for getting outsourcing business. You dumped me for that unscrupulous pimp?”
“You mind your tongue and just get out of here. I don’t want to talk to you. Let me wash up and change. Where is my bag, my things? I have to catch the 11 o’clock flight to Delhi. Our client is coming with me on the flight. I’ll have to apologize to him for all that happened.”
“He’s gone. I made sure he left. You know what time it is? It is one o’clock in the afternoon.”
“Oh, My God. I’ve missed my flight. How could he go away just like that without me?”
“That horny bastard was looking for you. The bugger had even found his way here. He wanted to take you along with him to the airport to catch your flight.”
“He saw me here?”
“No chance. I didn’t let him enter the room. I told him to vamoose, to disappear, and warned him never to contact you again.”
“Shit.”
“It’s not shit, it’s puke, your stinking vomit. I never knew you could be so disgusting. You puked all over your clothes. That is why I took them off and washed them. I have hung them in the bathroom – they must be dry by now. Don’t worry. I’ve checked you out of your room and had your things brought up – there’s your bag, near the closet. I checked out your bag, found your ticket, cancelled your 11 o’clock flight. I have now booked you on the evening flight to Delhi. Now go in and clean yourself up. I’ll go down and wait for you in the lobby. We’ll have a good lunch in the restaurant – you need to eat. And there’s some chilled Bloody Mary in the flask – drink it – it will cure your hangover.”
“Thanks,” the woman said.
The man walked out of the room, closed the door. The woman got up from the bed and ran naked into the bathroom.
Later, they both sat in the restaurant, enjoying a leisurely lunch in silence. The woman was feeling better now.
The man broke the silence, “I never expected to meet you here. I thought you were living in America after dumping me and marrying that wily bastard.”
“Please don’t start again. You tell me about yourself. You married?”
“No. Once bitten, twice shy.”
“And your work?”
“Well, I did this and that, and then took up a teaching assignment in Singapore. I’ve settled there now. I have come to Pune for a seminar and to deliver some lectures. And you? I have totally lost track of you, after that IT Czar lured you from me and took you away to the US of A.”
“We still have our main operations there, but we’ve expanded our business to India too – offshoring, outsourcing, ITES, all sorts of IT services – we’ve three centres here – at Gurgaon, Delhi and Pune – now-a-days I spend most of my time in Gurgaon.”
“And your husband?”
“He lives in the US – looks after the business out there.”
“Oh. Long distance marriage, eh? No wonder.”
“No wonder, what?”
“That you’re so sex starved – getting drunk and seducing firangis at your husband’s behest. Your guy can’t get it up, is it? No wonder you were so tight.”
“Tight? What are you saying?”
“I did it.”
“You did it?”
“Yes. I did it. Last night. With you. But you were so dead drunk, I doubt you even felt anything.”
“You bastard! You screwed me? I suspected as much when I was bathing, but I never imagined you would stoop so low and take advantage of me.”
“But you said you wanted to be taken advantage of.”
“I want to go,” the woman said sobbing, breaking down into tears.
“Cool down. Don’t make a spectacle of yourself again. I am sorry, but you were looking so attractive, so sexy, so desirable, that I remembered our days together and could not control myself,” the man said. He rose from his seat and spoke to the woman, “Come, I’ll take you to the washroom. You compose yourself. Then we’ll sit in the lounge and have some coffee.”
Later they sat in the poolside lounge and sipped hot coffee. It was winter; the late afternoon sun and slight breeze were quite comforting.
“I am sorry, very, very sorry,” the man said, “I shouldn’t have done it. I should have let you carry on with that firangi. Then all this would not have happened.”
“It’s okay. What’s done is done. At least it shows you still care for me.”
The man was taken aback by the woman’s words and he felt good.
“I always cared for you. I miss you terribly. We shouldn’t have divorced. We were too immature, too hot-headed; we could have patiently worked out our differences. Sometimes I think I am responsible for driving you into his arms,” the man said.
“No. It was my fault. I was too gullible and he was too smooth. He cleverly drove a wedge into our relationship, and I fell for it,” the woman said.
“I wish I could turn the clock back,” the man said.
“Me too.”
“We really had some good times together.”
“Yes. I can never forget those carefree days.”
“Let’s do one thing.”
“What?”
“It’s four now, your flight is at eight, airport check-in at seven, we’ve got three hours to kill – let’s go to Camp and loaf around Main Street, Marzorin, Monafood, Budhani’s, Kayani, Manneys, Needlewoman, the Bhelpuri stall – let’s see if all our old haunts are still there. If you want we’ll do some window shopping in the new Malls, wherever you want – and then I’ll drop you off at the airport.”
“No. Let’s go up to your room and do it,” the woman said.
“Do it?”
“Yes, let’s do it.”
“Do what?”
“What you did to me last night.”
“No.”
“Yes. Come. Let’s do it. This time, let’s do it like we used to do it.” 
“No social graces?”
“No social graces,” she smiled at their naughty private joke, “Yes, no social graces. Let’s go at each other like wild animals,” she tempted him with that tantalizing reckless look in her eyes.
He could feel the want churning inside him like fire.
“Okay,” he said, “let’s do it.”
They did it.
They went up to the room. Then, uninhibited, unrestrained, they let their carnal desires run amok with wild abandon and they did it.
They made love with wild passionate frenzy, demanding more and more of each other, resonating with peaks of sensual pleasure, till they were engulfed by the glow of ecstasy, the ultimate climax, and then they lay exhausted, their fires satiated, their limbs entangled, their bodies overcome by that unique soothing calm which is a consequence of fulfilled lovemaking.
VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
 

Did you like reading this story? 
I am sure you will like all the 27 stories in my recently published book of short stories COCKTAIL
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:
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COCKTAIL ebook
If you prefer reading ebooks on Kindle or your ebook reader, please order Cocktail E-book by clicking the links below:
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SMASHWORDS
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Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll
http://www.flipkart.com/appetite-stroll-vikram-karve/8190690094-gw23f9mr2o

About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a large number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse – his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile Vikram Karve: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
Vikram Karve Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/vikramkarve
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm
Email: vikramkarve@sify.com

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
  

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve

October 5, 2012

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve.

Click the link above and read my journal

THE VULTURES – a short story

June 24, 2012

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: THE VULTURES – a short story.

Click the link above and read the story in my journal

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June 11, 2012

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: CHUMMERY GIRL.

From Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve – THE GIRL WHO DUMPED ME – A Love Story

May 11, 2012

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: THE GIRL WHO DUMPED ME – A Love Story.

Click the link above to read the story in my journal

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve

April 11, 2012

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve.

WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE ROMANS DO

March 23, 2012

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE ROMANS DO.

Click the link above and read the story in my journal

HOW TO REMAIN HAPPILY MARRIED FOREVER – the story of a Much-Married Couple

March 20, 2012

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: HOW TO REMAIN HAPPILY MARRIED FOREVER – the story of a Much-Married Couple.

Click the link above and read the story

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