PUNE FICTION – CURTAINS

CURTAINS 

Short Fiction – A Love Story 

By 

VIKRAM KARVE 

Pune. Fergusson College Road. Vaishali Restaurant. 5 PM on a Sunday evening. Crowded. Crammed full. Jam-packed. All tables occupied chock-a-block. Aisles teeming with people waiting with watchful eyes for signs of someone finishing their refreshments. 

Suddenly I see a woman waving to me, beckoning me with her hand. Her face seems familiar – oh yes, she is Ravi’s wife. She is sitting all alone on a table for two with a half eaten masala dosa in front of her.

I walk towards her and give her a smile. 

“Sit down, sit down,” she says to me, gesturing with her hand towards the empty chair opposite her, “Sit down here with me, otherwise you will have to wait for hours.” 

I sit down opposite her and say, “Thanks.” 

She summons a waiter and orders peremptorily, “SPDP.” 

“Two?” the waiter asks. 

“No, one SPDP for Madam,” she says pointing to the empty plate in front of me without even bothering to ask me, “and get one Kachori for me.”

 Before I can recover my wits, she says, “You like SPDP don’t you? Ravi told me.” 

“Yes, I love the SPDP at Vaishali. In fact I come all the way here every Sunday…” 

“To spend the day reading in the library opposite followed by an SPDP at Vaishali,” she completes my sentence. 

“Ravi told you all this?” 

“Of course. He’s told me everything about you. Ravi admires you so much, he always talks about you.” 

“Really? But he never tells me anything about you.” 

“What’s there to tell? I am only his housewife, you are his office wife.” 

“Come on. Please don’t say that. There is nothing like that between me and Ravi. We are just colleagues – workmates. That’s all.” 

“Workmates? I think you are his soulmate – and I am only his mate!” 

I am struck dumb, feel a bit uneasy, but suddenly the plate of SPDP is kept in front of me, so I look down and begin to eat. 

“I’m sorry,” she says, “Don’t get angry. I was just teasing. I want you to be Ravi’s friend. He likes you so much. That’s why he is so happy in office and doing so well in his work.” 

I stop eating; look up at her vacuously, wondering what to say. 

“Ravi appreciates you so much he even brings you home to me every evening in his thoughts and talks…that’s why I wanted to meet you.”

 “We’ve met before…” 

“Only once, that too only an introduction, at the Office Annual Day get-together…we are hardly married for three months, you know, and you all are so busy, with your targets and all, so I decided to meet you, talk to you, get to know you better, make a friendship…” 

“You mean…” 

“Yes, I contrived this coincidence. I came to the library also, but you were so busy browsing that I did not want to disturb you, so I waited here in Vaishali knowing you would surely come for your SPDP.” 

“You’re not eating your Kachori,” I say, trying to change the direction of the conversation. 

“Here, you eat,” she says pushing her untouched plate of Kachori and katori of whipped curds towards me, “I am all full – I ate an Uttapam, Idli-Vada Sambar, god-knows-what, waiting for you to come…” she leans forward and casually picks up a Sev Potato Dahi Puri from my plate, pops into her mouth and says, “Wow. I love the chatpata flavour of SPDP – you call it Umami taste or something – that’s what you told Ravi, isn’t it?” 

“I think I’ll go now,” I say, feeling distinctly uncomfortable, making up my mind to have a long talk with Ravi the moment I meet him in the morning at work. 

“No, no, don’t go, I want to show you something.” 

“Show me something?” 

“Yes, that’s why I came all the way here to meet you.”

 We finish the SPDP and Kachori, I insist on paying the bill, she doesn’t object too much, and then she takes me to the drapery section of the Shopping Mall nearby.

 “We are furnishing our new house,” she says, pointing at the curtain cloth on display. 

I look at her clueless. 

“I like yellow, you like blue, and since you have told him about the aesthetic cool tranquil beauty of the blue colour, Ravi is besotted with everything blue – blue shirts, blue trousers, blue table-covers, blue bed-sheets, blue napkins, the sober blue everything that you make him buy…” 

I look furtively and self-consciously at the blue dress I was wearing, and say, “Okay, tell me which curtains you like.” 

She points to a bright yellow floral print and says, “I like that one, I love yellow, so lively and cheerful… I hate sober gloomy colours, especially blue, it depresses me.” 

Next morning at the office, Ravi says to me, “Hey, keep yourself free in the evening. We’ll go to Deccan for some shopping. You’ve got to help me select curtains for our new home. Then we’ll have SPDP at Vaishali.” 

“Sure, Ravi, I’ll love to come with you,” I say. 

Now I’ve got till evening to decide one thing – which colour curtains should I tell Ravi to buy – Yellow Curtains or Blue Curtains?

 VIKRAM KARVE 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

 vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com 

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve 

http://www.indiaplaza.in/finalpage.aspx?storename=books&sku=9788190690096&ct=2 

http://www.flipkart.com/appetite-stroll-vikram-karve/8190690094-gw23f9mr2o 

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

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