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From Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve : ZAMEEN – Short Fiction Story – DEAD END

October 17, 2014

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: ZAMEEN – Short Fiction Story – DEAD END.

Link to my original post in my academic and creative writing journal:
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

DEAD END aka ZAMEEN
Short Fiction Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

From my Creative Writing Archives:

There is a saying in Urdu:

 Har qatl di e jar zan zar zameen

(The motive for every murder is because of woman, money or land)

Most crimes occur because of Zan (woman or love passion) or Zar (money). 

This is a story where Zameen (land) is a motive for a crime.

I wrote this short story 21 years ago, sometime in the year 1993. 

One evening when I had gone on a long evening walk, I happened to witness a brutal land acquisition.

The might of the powers-that-be was on full display against the hapless landowners who were being evicted from their land.

They were protesting because the promised compensation had not been paid to them.

The hapless landowners feared that once they lost their land, they would have to make rounds of various government offices for compensation and pay bribes to get their due.

A few years later, someone told me that the land had been encroached upon, so the whole land acquisition exercise had gone waste, and the biggest losers were the erstwhile landowners.

The whole scene and situation moved me and I wrote a fiction short story called DEAD END.

Then, the story was highly appreciated.  

Huge land acquisitions take place for building projects and institutions. 

But does anyone look at it from the perspective of the displaced landowners? 

You even hear stories, maybe apocryphal, of land being forcibly acquired from farmers ostensibly for public purposes, and then the acquired land is “de-reserved” and sold off to builders who make a huge profit by building residential and commercial projects.

Land can become a big bone of contention and is the root of crime and corruption (the Zameen in crime triad Zan Zar Zameen).

I think this fiction story DEAD END is quite relevant even today. 

Do tell me if you like the story.

DEAD END – Short Fiction Story by VIKRAM KARVE

Manjunath was a contented man.
 
He was the proud owner of a coconut grove, more than a hundred trees, located on the most picturesque stretch of the western coast, skirting the Arabian Sea. The land was fertile and the yield was excellent.
 
Every morning, along with his wife and two sons, Manjunath would cast his fishing nets into the gentle waters of Baicol Bay, and in the evening, when he pulled in his nets with the receding tide, the catch would be adequate, if not substantial.
 
I loved Baicol Bay. 

It was a most beautiful and pristine place by the sea and sunset, on the western coast, was a special event.
 
So every evening, I went for a jog on the soft unspoilt beach, and after a swim in the crystal-clear waters, I relaxed on the sands, beholding the fascinating, yet soothing, spectacle of the mighty orange sun being devoured under the horizon of the sea.
 
As darkness enveloped, Manjunath would gently appear by my side with a tender coconut in hand.
 
At that moment, there was nothing more refreshing than sweet coconut water.
 
The year was 1980 and I was a fresh, young and idealistic Indian Police Service (IPS) Officer, on my first posting, as Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) of this lovely coastal district.
 
The air was fresh and unpolluted and the weather was temperate. There was no railway line, no industries, and no noise. The district headquarters was a one-street town. Everybody knew everybody, the people were peace-loving, and in the prevailing climate of contentment, it was no surprise that the crime-rate was almost zero.
 
One day, my boss, the Superintendent of Police (SP) took me to an important meeting in the District Collector’s office.
 
As I heard the words of the Collector, I experienced a deep sense of distress. A notification had been issued and a mammoth Steel Plant had been sanctioned in the Baicol Bay area. Land Acquisition was the immediate top priority. The police were to ensure that there was no law and order problem.
 
“But why can’t they locate the Steel Plant somewhere else?” I protested. “This lovely palace will be ruined. And where will the people go?”
 
At first, the Collector appeared dumbstruck by my interruption. 

Then he glowered at me with a fierce and threatening stare. 

I avoided his gaze and looked around the room. 

Everyone was looking at me in a curious manner. 

My boss, the SP, was desperately gesturing to me to keep quiet.
 
“I wonder whose side you are on?” the Collector snapped angrily, still giving me an intimidating glare.
 
“Don’t worry, Sir,” the SP spoke, addressing the Collector, “There will be no problems. The people here are a docile lot. Everything shall proceed smoothly.”
 
When we were driving back to our office, the SP said, “Joshi, you better tame your tongue and watch what you say, especially in front of others.”
 
“Sir, you please tell me. Is it not gross injustice? We pay them a pittance for their fertile land. And then evict them from their habitat, and destroy the beauty of this place, just because someone decides to set up a set up a Steel Plant here.”
 
“It’s in the national interest, Joshi. Why don’t you try and understand. Everyone shall be properly rehabilitated with a job and a house and also get a compensation.”
 
“Come on, sir,” I argued. “You know where we are going to relocate them. The rehabilitation camp is more than twenty kilometres away from the sea front. And we are putting them into small overcrowded multi-storeyed tenements, which are at complete variance from their ethos. These people are used to open spaces, fresh air, and most important – the waterfront, the sea.”
 
“That’s enough, Joshi,” the SP said angrily. “Your job is to carry out my orders. I want you to take personal charge of this operation. The task must be completed smoothly and on schedule. Is that clear?”
 
“Yes, sir,” I replied meekly.
 
That evening I held a meeting with the affected villagers. 

Manjunath was sitting in the first row, right in front of me. 

I spoke of patriotism, sacrifice for the “national cause” and the prosperity the Steel Plant would bring into their lives.
 
To my utter surprise, there was no resistance. 

Everyone seemed convinced, I think because they were simple people who believed every word I said.

But to my own self, my own words sounded insincere, and I felt acutely uncomfortable.
 
And so the land acquisition operation began.
 
Awe-struck, Manjunath saw the might of the government on display. 

Manjunath watched with tears in his eyes, columns of police standing by, while bulldozers destroyed his beloved coconut grove.
 
A few days later Manjunath stood before the employment officer. 

The employment officer was in a foul mood. 

“These illiterate buggers get jobs on a platter while my matriculate brother-in-law rots unemployed in city,” he complained, “I had promised my wife that I would wrangle at least a Class 4 unskilled labourer, domestic attendant or peon’s job for him out here.”
 
“Hold your tongue,” the rehabilitation officer said angrily, “These so-called ‘illiterate buggers’, as you call them, were land-owners, displaced from their own land. They are entitled a job in lieu of their land acquired for this project.”
 
“Okay, okay. Don’t get hot,” the employment officer said to the rehabilitation officer. 

Then, the employment officer looked at Manjunath and curtly asked him, “Do you possess any special skills?”
 
Manjunath could not comprehend, so he just stood silent.
 
In an exasperated manner, the employment officer snapped, “We haven’t got all day. Tell me. What can you do?”
 
“Coconuts,” Manjunath answered.
 
“Coconuts?”
 
“Yes, Sir. Coconuts.”
 
“What else?”
 
“Fish.”
 
“Fish and Coconuts, eh! You will see plenty of them,” the employment officer said. 

He wrote the word ‘cook’ beside Manjunath’s name in the register.
 
And so, at one stroke, Manjunath was transformed, from a land-owner into a cook.

First he worked as a cook in the ramshackle canteen for construction workers and later as a cook in the huge industrial canteen of the Steel Plant.
 
But Manjunath was lucky. 

At least he had become a cook. 

Most others became Unskilled Labourers because the skills they possessed, like farming and fishing, were not relevant as far as the Steel Plant was concerned.
 
And so almost all the “skilled” workers – the tradesmen, all the welders, fitters, machinists, electricians etc – they all came from outside, from faraway places, the cities and the urban areas. 

And the complexion of the place began to change.
 
Soon I stopped going for my daily evening jog to Baicol beach.

Now the whole place was  littered with debris from the construction work and the air was no longer pure, but polluted by fumes and dust.

It was no longer quiet and calm, but the noise from the ongoing construction work was unbearable.
 
And, of course, now there would be no Manjunath waiting for me with a tender coconut in hand.
 
So when my transfer came, I felt relieved and happy.

I no longer loved the place and, more so, I could not bear the pain of witnessing the beginning of the systematic metamorphosis of a beautiful natural paradise into a huge monster of concrete and steel.
 
When I returned after fifteen long years, the place had changed beyond recognition. 

The gigantic steel plant, the railway line, the new port, the industries, the ‘fruits’ of liberalization and the signs of prosperity, modern buildings adorned by adjoining slums, filth and polluted air, all types of vehicles clogging the roads, restaurants and bars, the noise and even most of the people looked alien.
 
As we drove down to the police headquarters, the SP said, “It’s not the same place when you were here, sir.”
 
“The crime-rate was zero then,” I said. “What has gone wrong?”
 
“There are two types of people now, Sir – the liberalised Indian and the marginalised Indian.”
 
“And us!”
 
“And us,” he laughed, “yes, sir, and us trying to sort the whole thing out.”
 
I was head of the crime branch at the state police headquarters and had been sent down to investigate a series of bizarre murders. 

A few bigwigs were waylaid, had their heads chopped off and their headless bodies dumped outside their houses. 

It had created such a scare that my boss had rushed me down.
 
The car stopped. 

I recognized the place at once.
 
“The common thread, sir,” the SP said, “All the victims lived in this luxury residential enclave.”
 
“I knew this place,” I said, feeling a tinge of nostalgia, “There used to be a coconut grove here. This place was acquired for the steel plant. But now I see that it is just outside the perimeter wall. I wonder why they excluded this area.”
 
“Must be the environment stipulations, sir,” the SP mumbled, “the two hundred meter zone or something. They must have de-notified it.”
 
“De-notified it? Don’t give me bullshit!” I shouted, “How the hell has this posh residential complex come up here? And if the government did not want the land for the steel plant, then why was this excess acquired land not returned back to the original owners?”
         
“Sir, this land which was sold by the acre in your time, fifteen years ago – now it is priced per square foot.”
 
“The fruits of progress, is it?” I snapped.
 
I could see that the SP was getting confused by my unexpected line of investigation, and he was getting a bit scared too, for I was a DIG. 

So I decided to put him at ease.
 
“Tell me, Pandey,” I said patronizingly. “What were you before joining the IPS?”
 
“An Engineer, Sir. From IIT, Delhi.”
 
This was no surprise.

Engineers, even doctors, were joining the IAS and IPS nowadays. 

I looked at the SP, and said, “Let me explain in a way you will understand.”
 
Pandey was looking at me intently.
 
I paused, and asked him. “Do you know the definition of the term ‘system’?”
 
“Yes, sir,” he answered.
 
“Every ‘system’ has a natural rhythm,” I said, “take this place for example. All the people here in this system, farmers, fishermen, everyone, they all had a natural rhythm of life which perfectly matched the rhythm of this place. And there was harmony. Then suddenly we disturb the system. We drastically change the rhythm of the place. Create a mismatch. And when the people cannot cope up, we call them ‘marginalised Indians’ – as you put it.”
 
Pandey looked thoroughly confused, so I avoided further rhetoric and came straight to the point, “You are looking for a motive, isn’t it, Pandey?”
 
“Yes, Sir,” he said.
 
“Okay, consider this. You own some fertile land. We forcibly acquire it, mouthing platitudes like ‘national interest’, ‘patriotism’ etc. Then we sit on your land for fifteen long years while you are reduced from an owner to a labourer. And then, one fine day, you find that your beloved land been grabbed by some land-sharks from the city. What would you do?”
 
The SP did not reply.
 
“Do one thing, Pandey,” I said. “There is a man called Manjunath. He probably works as a cook in the Steel Plant canteen. Bring him to me. He may have some clue and maybe he will give us a lead.”
 
In my mind’s eye, I was thinking of ways of how to get Manjunath off the hook.
 
An hour later, the SP came rushing into the police headquarters. 

The SP looked dazed, as if he had been pole-axed. 

“The guy went crazy,” the SP stammered, “Sir, when the police party approached him, he was chopping coconuts with a sharp sickle. Suddenly he slashed his own neck. He died on the way to hospital. There is blood everywhere.”
 
In the morgue, staring sadly at Manjunath’s dead body, the SP commented, “Look at the expression on his face, sir. He looks so content.”
 
“Yes,” I said. “He has reached the dead end.”

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
1. This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.


Posted by Vikram Karve at 10/17/2014 02:04:00 PM

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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.

Rest in Peace – RIP.

November 3, 2011

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Rest in Peace – RIP..

Click the link above and REST IN PEACE

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS – A Story of Non Resident Indian (NRI) Diaspora

September 29, 2011

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
A Short Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

I have noticed one thing. In the colony where I live in Pune almost everyone’s children have migrated to the USA to realize the American Dream (That’s why Computer Science, Software Engineering and IT is so popular – it is the easiest way to go abroad). But one thing is very funny about this Indian (Puneri) diaspora. In their professional lives and careers they quickly adopt “modern” western American values but in their personal lives they still cling on to traditional Indian values. This story explores this dichotomy…

A middle aged woman watches the sun set from the balcony of her tenth floor flat of one of those ubiquitous residential “townships” rapidly sprawling and proliferating around the once remote suburb of Aundh on the outskirts of the once beautiful and picturesque city of Pune in western India.

The doorbell rings. It’s her husband back home from work.

He’s tired and aching all over after the long bone-rattling, back-breaking and lung-choking commute on the terrible roads and in the polluted atmosphere.

“Good news,” his wife says exuberantly, giving him his customary cup of tea.

“What?” the husband asks nonchalantly, carefully pouring the precise amount of tea from the cup into the saucer and lifting the saucer to his lips to enjoy his tea in his usual habitual manner.

“Our daughter Nalini is pregnant,” the wife exults.

“At long last – I thought she didn’t have time for mundane things like procreation –  I am so glad she found time from her busy schedule,” the husband comments acerbically and noisily sips his tea in his customary acerbic style.

“Don’t be sarcastic. She’s a career woman. Aren’t you happy…?”

“Of course I’m happy. I’m 56 now – it’s high time I became a grandfather.”

“I’ll have to go…”

“Where…?”

“For her delivery.”

“To Seattle…?”

“Yes. Her due date is sometime in December. I better go as early as possible, maybe in October. Poor thing, it’s her first child. You better get the visas and all ready well in time. Nalini wants me to stay for at least three-four months after her delivery.”

“Three-four months after her delivery…? So you’ll be away for more than six months…?”

“Yes. I’m her mother and I have to be there to help her. Poor thing. It’s her first delivery. And that too in America… poor thing…”

“Poor thing…? Who asked her to go there…? And what about me…?”

“You also come and help out.”

“I won’t get six months’ leave.”

“Come for a month. To see the baby. In December or January…”

“I’ll see. But I don’t like it there. It’s too boring. And in December it will be freezing cold.”

“Then stay here.”

“I wish we hadn’t shifted from Sadashiv Peth.”

“Why…? Isn’t this lovely apartment better than those two horrible rented rooms we had…? And it’s all thanks to Nalini.”

“I know… I know… Don’t rub it in. But sometimes I wish we hadn’t pushed her into Computers and IT. We should have let her study arts, history, literature – whatever she wanted to.”

“And it would have been difficult to find a decent boy for her and she would be languishing like an ordinary housewife with no future… slogging away throughout her life like me.”

“And we would be still staying in the heart of the city and not in the wilderness out here… and you wouldn’t have to go all the way to America for her delivery…!”

“Don’t change the topic….” the wife says.

“I am not changing the topic,” says the husband firmly. “You are not going for Nalini’s delivery to America. Let them, she and her husband, manage on her own.”

“But why shouldn’t I go…? She is sending the ticket.”

“It’s not a question of money. The fact is I don’t want to stay all alone at this age. It is difficult. And here, in this godforsaken township full of snobs, I don’t even have any friends.”

“Try to understand. I have to be there. It’s her first delivery.”

“Tell me one thing.”

“What…?”

“Don’t the women out there have babies…?”

“Yes. So…?”

“And do they always have their mothers around pampering them during their pregnancies and deliveries…? And then mollycoddling their babies for the next few months, maybe even a year…?”

“I don’t know,” she said evading an answer, “for them it’s different.”

“Different…?”

“Our girls are najuk.”

“Najuk…?”

“Delicate…. fragile.”

“Nonsense. They are as tough as any one else. It’s all in the mind. It’s only our mindset that’s different.”

“What do you mean…?”

“Thousands of women who have migrated from all over the world are delivering babies out there every day, but it’s only our girls who can’t do without their mothers around, is it…?”

“Don’t argue with me. It’s our culture… our tradition. A daughter’s first delivery is her mother’s responsibility.”

“Culture…? Tradition…? What nonsense…? It’s not culture… it’s attitude…! Our people may have physically migrated to the modern world, but their mental make-up hasn’t changed, isn’t it…?”

“Please stop your lecturing. I’m fed up of hearing…” the wife pleads.

The husband continues as if he hasn’t heard her: “What they require is attitudinal change and to stop their double standards. Nonsense… Nobody forced them to go to America… They went there on their own and it’s high time they adopt the American way of life instead of clinging on to roots and values they themselves have cast off…”

“Please. Please. Please. Enough… I beg of you. Don’t argue. Just let me go.”

“No. You can’t go. I can’t stay alone for six months. Why should I…?”

“Try to understand. I’ve told you a hundred times. It’s our only daughter’s first delivery. I have to be there.”

“Okay. Tell her to come here.”

“Here…?”

“Yes. Here. To Pune. We’ll do her delivery right here in Pune. We’ll go to the best maternity hospital and then you can keep her here as long as you want. She’ll be comfortable, the weather will be good and you can pamper your darling daughter and her baby to your heart’s content.”

“No.”

“What do you mean ‘No’…? You went to your mother’s place for your deliveries isn’t it…? And you came back after the babies were more than three months old.”

“That was different. I wasn’t working.”

“Oh. It’s about her job is it…? I’m sure they have maternity leave out there. She can take a break. Come here to India. Have her baby. And if she wants to go back early we’ll look after the kid for a couple of months and then I’ll take leave and we’ll both go and drop the baby there.”

The wife says nothing.

“Give me the phone. I’ll ring her up and tell her to come here as early as possible. I’ll convince her she will be more comfortable here,” the husband says.

“I’ve already spoken to her and tried to convince her exactly what you suggested,” the wife says.

“And…?”

“She wants the baby to be born there. It’s something about citizenship.”

“So that’s the point…” the husband says, “She wants the best of both worlds, isn’t it…?”

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2011
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 this story?
This is a story from my recently published anthology of Short Fiction COCKTAIL and I am sure you will like all the 27 stories in COCKTAIL
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:
http://www.flipkart.com/cocktail-vikram-karve-short-stories-book-8191091844?affid=nme
http://www.indiaplaza.in/cocktail-vikram-karve/books/9788191091847.htm
http://www.apkpublishers.com/books/short-stories/cocktail-by-vikram-karve.html
COCKTAIL ebook
If you prefer reading ebooks on Kindle or your ebook reader, please order Cocktail E-book by clicking the links below:
AMAZON
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005MGERZ6
SMASHWORDS
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/87925

Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll
If your are a Foodie you will like my book of Food Adventures APPETITE FOR A STROLL. Do order a copy from FLIPKART:
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. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU 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 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 for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram 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
vikramkarve@gmail.com

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

COCKTAIL – MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 36

September 5, 2011

 

COCKTAIL.

Please click on the title COCKTAIL above and read the story in my Creative Writing Blog.

This is the story selected for the title of my short stories book COCKTAIL.
Did you like this story?
I am sure you will like the stories in my recently published book COCKTAIL comprising twenty seven short stories about relationships. To order the book please click the links below:

http://www.flipkart.com/cocktail-vikram-karve-short-stories-book-8191091844?affid=nme


About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU 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 he is currently working on his novel. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram 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    

 

URBANIZATION OF THE MOFUSSIL GIRL – Story of a Modern Girl

August 5, 2011

URBANIZATION OF THE MOFUSSIL GIRL – Story of a Modern Girl.

Click the link above and read the story on my creative writing blog

Regards

Vikram Karve

KETTI – a travel romance by Vikram Karve

May 28, 2011

KETTI.

KETTI
Short Fiction – A Travel Tale
By
VIKRAM KARVE

From my Creative Writing Archives:

 
Short Fiction – A Simple Love Story I wrote sometime in the 1990s …
Winter.

Early morning.

Chill in the air.


I stand alone on the metre gauge side of the lonely island platform of Mettupalaiyam Railway Station and stare at the peaks of the Blue Mountains (the Nilgiris) silhouetted in a veil of mist in the distance.

Nothing much has changed here since the last time I came here on my way to Ooty.

It was almost 30 years ago and even now the place, the things, the people – everything looks the same – as if frozen in time.

But for me there is a world of difference.

Then I was a young bride, full of inchoate zest, in the company of my handsome husband, eagerly looking forward to the romantic journey on the toy train of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway on my way to our honeymoon at Ooty.  

Then, on my way to my honeymoon, the place felt so exciting. 

Now it feels so gloomy.

Strange. 

But true. 

What’s outside just doesn’t matter; it is what is inside that matters.


I try not to reminisce.

Remembering good times when I am in misery causes me unimaginable agony.


I look at my watch.

7.30 A.M.

The small blue toy train pushed by its hissing steam engine comes on the platform.

Dot on time.

As it was then.


The same chill in the air. The same February morning – the 14th of February – Valentine’s Day. 

Then I had the loving warmth of my husband’s arm around me.

Now I feel the bitter cold penetrating within me.


I drag my feet across the platform towards the mountain train – then they called it The Blue Mountain Express – now I don’t know.

Scared, anxious, fear in my stomach, I experience a strange uneasiness, a sense of foreboding, a feeling of ominous helplessness – wondering what my new life would have in store for me.

I sit alone in the First Class compartment right in front of the train and wait for the train to start – the train which is going to take me to the point to no return.

I wish that all this is just a dream.

But I know it is not.


And suddenly, Avinash enters.

We stare at each other in disbelief.

Time stands still.


There is silence, a grotesque silence, till Avinash speaks, “Roopa! What are you doing here?”

I do not answer.

Because I cannot answer.

I am struck dumb, swept by a wave of melancholic despair.

My vocal cords numbed by emotional pain.


I look ineffectually and forlornly at Avinash and I realize that there is no greater pain than to remember happier times when in distress.  

“You look good when you get emotional,” Avinash says sitting opposite me.

In the vulnerable emotional state that I am in, I know that I will have a breakdown if I continue sitting with Avinash.

I want to get out, run away; but suddenly, the train moves.

I am trapped.

So I decide to put on a brave front, and say to Avinash, “Coming from Chennai?”


“Yes,” he says, “I’d gone for some work there.”

“You stay here? In Ooty?” I ask with a tremor of trepidation for I do not want to run into Avinash again and again; and let him know that I had made a big mistake by not marrying him – that I had made the wrong choice by dumping him, the man I loved, in search of a “better” life.

“I stay near Kotagiri,” Avinash says.

“Kotagiri?” I ask relieved.

“Yes, I own a tea-estate there.”

“You own a tea estate?”

“Yes. I am a planter.”

Now I really regret my blunder 30 years ago. Indeed I had made the wrong choice.

“Your family – wife, children?” I probe, curious.

“I didn’t marry,” he says curtly. “There’s no family; only me. A confirmed bachelor – just me – I live all by myself.”

“Oh, Avinash. You should have got married. Why didn’t you?”

“It is strange that you should be asking me why I did not marry,” he says.

 “Oh my God! Because of me?” 
 
Avinash changes the subject and says, “I’ll be getting off at Coonoor. My jeep will pick me up.”

He pauses, then asks me, “And you, Roopa? Going to Ooty? At the height of winter! To freeze over there?”


“No,” I say, “I am going to Ketti.”

“Ketti ?” he asks with derisive surprise.

“Yes. What’s wrong with going to Ketti?” I protest.

“There are only two places you can go to in Ketti – The boarding school and the old-age home. And the school is closed in December,” Avinash says nonchalantly, looking out of the window.

I say nothing.

Because I cannot say anything.

So I suffer his words in silence.


“Unless of course you own a bungalow there!” he says sarcastically turning towards me and mocking me once again.

The cat is out of the bag.

I cannot describe the sense of humiliation I feel sitting there with Avinash.

The tables seem to have turned.

Or have they?


There are only the two of us in the tiny compartment.

As the train begins to climb up the hills it began to get windy and Avinash closes the windows.


The smallness of the compartment forces us into a strange sort of intimacy.

I remember the lovely moments with Avinash.


A woman’s first love always has an enduring place in her heart.

“I am sorry if I hurt you,” Avinash says, “but the bitterness just came out.”

We talk.

Avinash is easy to talk to and I am astonished how effortlessly my words come tumbling out. 


I tell him everything. Yes, I tell him everything – the entire story of my life.

How I had struggled, sacrificed, planned and taken every care.

But still, everything had gone wrong.


Widowed at 28.

Abandoned by my only son at 52.

Banished to an old-age home. So that “they” could sell off our house and emigrate abroad.

“They” – yes, “they” – those two who ruined my life, betrayed my trust – my only son who I doted upon and lived for and that scheming wife of his. 


“I have lost everything,” I cry, unable to control my self. “Avinash, I have lost everything.”

“No, Roopa,” Avinash says. “You haven’t lost everything. You have got me! I’ve got you. We’ve got each other.”

Avinash takes me in his comforting arms. 

Cuddled in his arms, I experience the same feeling, the same zest, the same warmth, the same lovely emotion, the same love, that I felt thirty years ago, yes, thirty years ago, as a newly-wed on my first romantic journey, on this same mountain toy train, on my way to my first honeymoon, into the lovely blue mountains. 


VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2011
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 this story?

I am sure you will like the stories in my recently published book COCKTAIL comprising twenty seven short stories about relationships.  

 

 

 

Do try out this delicious, heady and excitingCOCKTAIL. 

 

To know more please click the links below:
Cheers

About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU 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. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram 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          

Fiction Short Stories Book

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

 

 

INNOCENT VICTIM – A Divorce Story with a Difference by Vikram Karve

May 8, 2011

INNOCENT VICTIM.

INNOCENT VICTIM

Dear Reader: Have you read my latest book COCKTAIL – a collection of 27 short stories about relationships? 
 
If you haven’t please click the link below and order a copy:
 
 
In COCKTAIL there is a story called A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A DIVORCED MAN. This story highlights the negative aspects of divorce on relationships, especially the adverse effect divorce has on children who are supposed to be innocent victims in divorce situations and who suffer for no fault of their own. 
 
Are children really innocent victims and do they actually suffer when their parents divorce? 
 
Well, here is a divorce story from a different perspective — a “happy ending” divorce story where the child is certainly not an “innocent victim” of a divorce situation 
Read on and tell me if you like this story:
“INNOCENT VICTIM”
A Divorce Story with a Difference
Short Fiction
By
VIKRAM KARVE

I am going to tell you about a very intriguing conversation I had with a naughty boy while travelling from Mumbai to Pune on the Deccan Queen last evening.

As I walk towards my seat in the Ladies’ Coach of the Deccan Queen I find a smart boy sitting on my window seat talking to a handsome man sitting on the seat beside him.

“Excuse me,” I say to the man, “this is the ladies’ compartment…”

Before the man can answer, the boy says, “I’m only seven…below 12…I can travel in the ladies compartment…”

“Don’t be rude, Rohan,” the man admonishes the boy, and then he rises from the seat, moves into the aisle, making way for me, and says, “Sorry, Ma’am, I am getting off, I just came to see off my son…is it okay if he sits in the window seat…”

“It is okay,” I say and sit down next to the boy, on the seat by the aisle.

“Actually I was waiting for you to come,” the man says.

“Me…?” I ask, flabbergasted, wondering whether tha man is trying to flirt with me.

“My son…he’s travelling alone…”

“I always travel alone…” the boy interjects.

“Of course, you are a big boy now aren’t you…?” the father says lovingly to his son, then turns towards me and says, “His mother will come to receive him in Pune…I’ve SMSed the coach and seat number to her…and Rohan’s got his cell-phone too…”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of your son and deliver him safely to his mother,” I assure the man, not wanting to talk to him too much.

“Thanks,” the man says to me, then turns to his son and says affectionately, “Give me a call when you reach…and come next weekend…”

“Of course Papa. I’ll be here to meet you next weekend on Saturday morning…you be here to get me off the Deccan Queen…I’ve got three days holidays…we’ll go off somewhere on an adventure trip…”

“Yes. Yes. I’ll do the bookings…” the man’s words are suddenly interrupted by the guard’s whistle and the train starts moving.

“Bye, Papa,” the boy jumps across me, hugs his father who bends down, kisses his son on the cheek, disengages and quickly moves to the exit, turning once to wave out to his son. The train gradually picks up speed.

Rohan sits down in his seat, takes out his fancy mobile phone, and a pair of earplugs.

My curiosity gets the better of my discretion and I ask the boy, “That’s a real good mobile phone.”

“Yes. It’s cool…the latest…it’s got everything…touch screen…music…internet…”

“Your father gave it to you?”

“Yes. Papa gets me the best…”

“And your mother…”

“Oh, Mama is too good…she loves me so much…takes so much care of me… lets me do whatever I want…oh…before you ask I should tell you…Papa and Mama are divorced…”

“Oh dear, I am so sorry…”

“No. No. It’s okay…I am happy they are divorced…”

“You are happy your parents are divorced…?” I ask aghast, totally astonished and incredulous.

“Yes…for me it is better this way…you know my Mama and Papa now have to share me…they have divided me between them…during the week I stay with Mama in Pune…and I spend the weekends with Papa in Mumbai…”

“But wasn’t it better when you all lived together as one family…?” I ask.

“It was terrible…when we lived together they were just not bothered about me….Mama and Papa were so busy with their office and work and parties and travelling and everything…they just had no time for me…and whatever little time we were together they kept fighting…”

“And now…?”

“After they split my life is just too good…!” the boy says.

“Too good…?” I interrupt, taken aback.

“Yes…after their divorce my life has become real good…I like it this way…now they care for me so much…they never scold me now like they used to before…now both my Mama and Papa pamper me so much…just imagine…I had two birthday parties this year…one by Mama at Pune and one by Papa in Mumbai…”

“Really…? You had two birthday parties…?”

Yes…and now they let me do whatever I want…give me so much time…and presents…they give me whatever I want…they even give me whatever I don’t want…”

“They give you whatever you don’t want…?”

“Now see, Papa has given me this fantastic mobile phone…now Mama will give me even a better one…or maybe some other groovy stuff…it’s like my Mama and Papa are in competition to make me happy…”

“That’s good…you are really lucky…”

“Oh, yes. I am very lucky…but it is funny isn’t it…?

“Funny…? What’s funny…?”

“About my Papa and Mama…when they were together they neglected me…and now they when live separated, they pamper me so much…so it is better isn’t it…that they are divorced… at least for me…”

I am still trying to analyze the uncanny truth in the young boy’s topsy-turvy logic.

What type of parenting is this? 
 
First you neglect your children when you are married together, and then, you spoil your kids to glory when you are separated divorced. 
 
Strange isn’t it? 
 
And I thought children were “innocent victims” in divorce situations…! 

Dear Reader: What do you think…?
VIKRAM KARVE 
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2011
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 this Story?
I am sure you will like the 27 stories in COCKTAIL
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:

About Vikram Karve 

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU 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 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 for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram 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          
Fiction Short Stories Book

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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