Posts Tagged ‘infatuation’

Unrequited Love – THE NIGHT TRAIN AT DEOLI – My Favorite Short Story

June 8, 2010

THE NIGHT TRAIN AT DEOLI

My Favourite Love Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE


I love reading short stories. You can read a short story in one sitting and it immediately fills you with an exquisite sense of satisfaction.

I love writing short stories too, and I am sure you have read many of my short stories in my blog.

Dear Reader, let me tell you about my all time favourite short story – The Night Train at Deoli by Ruskin Bond.

The Night Train at Deoli is a beautiful story of unrequited love. Each one of us has experienced this wonderfully painful emotion of unrequited love.

Dear Reader, I am sure you too have experienced the delightful heart-ache of longing, yearning – an alluring attraction for someone who is out of reach – a one way love – a love unreciprocated.

Well I am quite familiar with the delicate tenderness of unrequited love; in fact, my life story is a story of unrequited loves.

The Night Train at Deoli is narrated in first person by a college boy who travels by the night train from Delhi to Dehra Dun every year to spend his summer vacations at his grandmother’s place. On its journey up the hills of the terai, early in the morning, the train stops at Deoli, a lonely station in the wilderness… “Why it stopped at Deoli. I don’t know. Nothing ever happened. Nobody got off the train and nobody got in…and then the bell would sound, the guard would blow his whistle, and presently Deoli would be left behind and forgotten” – isn’t the description brilliant, so breathtaking in its simplicity.

On one such journey the boy sees a girl at Deoli, selling baskets, and is smitten by her… “I sat up awake for the rest of the journey. I could not rid my mind of the picture of the girl’s face and her dark, smouldering eyes”.

He looks out for her on his return journey and is thrilled when he sees her… “I felt an unexpected thrill when I saw her…I sprang off the foot-board and waved to her. When she saw me, she smiled. She was pleased that I remembered her. I was pleased that she remembered me. We were both pleased, and it was almost like a meeting of old friends”…superb writing, isn’t it…simply superb.

It is time for the train to leave, and for the lovers to part… “I felt the impulse to put her on the train there and then…I caught her hand and held it… ‘I have to go to Delhi,’ I said…she nodded, ‘I do not have to go anywhere.’…the guard blew his whistle…and how I hated the guard for doing that…”

Beautifully poignant, marvellously written, touches the very fragile chords of your heart, isn’t it?

I will not tell you the rest of this story, but I can assure you, that if you are a lover at heart, you will be touched with compassion for the protagonist and as the story elevates you to the romantic mood you will relate your very own tale of unrequited love.

Though The Night Train at Deoli is my all time favourite, I like many stories in this anthology, especially, The Woman on Platform 8, His Neighbour’s Wife and Death of a Familiar.

If you are a lover of the fiction short story I am sure you have this delightful book; if you don’t, do get a copy for your bookcase to delve into whenever you are in a blue mood nostalgically yearning for your unrequited love.

Tell me, Dear Reader, which is your favourite love story…

VIKRAM KARVE

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

vikramkarve@sify.com

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MELTING MOMENTS Fiction Short Story – A Passionate Romance

December 14, 2009

MELTING MOMENTS

Fiction Short Story – A Passionate Romance
By

VIKRAM KARVE

Jayashree entered my life the moment I saw her photograph on Sanjay’s desk.

And my life changed forever!

Till that moment, I had never wanted anything belonging to anyone else.

I stared transfixed at her photo, enthralled, totally captivated by her beauty.

“Sir, this is Jayashree, my wife!” Sanjay said, getting up form the swivel chair.

He picked up the framed photograph and showed it to me.

I took her picture in my hand and looked intently at her, totally mesmerized.

What a stunning beauty!

Never before had the mere sight of a woman aroused such strong passions, and a yearning desire in me to this extent.

Sanjay was talking something, but it didn’t register.

I hastily said, “Cute!” for I believe that thoughts can transmit themselves if they are strong enough!

I thought Sanjay seemed just a trifle taken aback, but he smiled, and pulled out a photo-album from the drawer.

He began showing me the photographs and started describing his home, his family, his wedding, his honeymoon – the wonderful days they had spent together in Goa.

I took the album from him and looked at a photograph of Jayashree in a bathing suit which was so revealing that she might as well have worn nothing, but she conveyed such innocence that it was obvious that she had no inkling of this.

She looked ravishing. Absolutely Breathtaking! Her exquisite body was boldly outlined under the flimsy fabric and she radiated a tantalizing sensuousness with such fervour that I could not take my eyes off her.

“Cute,” I instinctively and unthinkingly said again, and bit my lip; it was the wrong word, but Sanjay didn’t seem to mind; he didn’t even seem to be listening.

Dear Reader, before I proceed further with my story, let me tell you something about myself.

My name is Vijay. At the time of this story I was the Master of a merchant ship – an oil tanker. Sanjay was my Chief Officer – my number two!

He had joined recently and it was our first sailing together.

I had not met him earlier, but in due course he proved to be an excellent deputy. He was young, just thirty, he ran the ship efficiently and I liked him for his good qualities.

But there was something in his eyes that I could not fathom. I shut my mind to it.

It’s extraordinary how close you can be to a man and still know nothing about him.

Sometimes I wondered whether he was much more naïve or a lot more shrewd than I thought.

“Captain, may I ask you a personal question?’ Sanjay asked me one evening, the first time we went ashore.

“Sure,” I said.

“Captain, I was wondering, why didn’t you get married so far?”  Sanjay said with childlike candour.

I sipped my drink and smiled, “I don’t really know. Maybe I am not marriage-material.”

“You tried?”

“Yes.”

“You loved someone?”

I didn’t answer.

And as I thought about it, I felt depressed.

Life was passing me by.

I looked around the restaurant.

The atmosphere was gloomy-dark and quiet. It was late; almost midnight.

Sanjay offered me a cigarette.

His hands were unsteady.

He seemed to be quite drunk.

As we smoked, he lapsed into silence – his eyes closed.

When he opened his eyes, I observed a strange metamorphosis in his expression.

He looked crestfallen; close to tears.

Suddenly, he blurted out, “I wish I had never got married.”

With those few words, Sanjay had bared the secret of his marriage.

As I attempted to smoothen my startled look into a grin, I was ashamed to find that, inwardly, I was glad to hear of his misfortune.

I wondered how I could desire and yearn for Jayashree to this extent without ever having met her in flesh and blood, merely by seeing her photograph?

But it is true; my heart ached whenever I thought of her.

We sailed from Chennai port next morning, and headed for Singapore.

It was the monsoon season and the sea was rough.

As the voyage progressed, the weather swiftly deteriorated.

The ship rolled and pitched feverishly, tossed about by the angry waves.

As we neared the Strait of Malacca, I began to experience a queer sensation – a strange foreboding.

Though I was moulded in a profession where intellect habitually meets danger, I felt restless and apprehensive. I had felt and fought occasional fear before, but this was different – a premonition – a nameless type of fright; a strange feeling of dread and uneasiness.

I tried my best to dispel my fear, thrust away the strange feelings. But all my efforts failed. The nagging uneasiness persisted and soon took charge of me.

It was so dark that I couldn’t even see our ship’s forecastle. The incessant rain and treacherous sea created an eerie atmosphere. I was close to panic as we negotiated the treacherous and hazardous waters of the Strait.

As I stared into the pitch blackness which shrouded the hour moments before the breaking of dawn, a strange tocsin began sounding in my brain – a warning I could not fathom.

The ship was pitching violently. I felt sick with fear and stood gasping for air, clutching the telegraph. I had to get outside, into the fresh air, or I’d suffocate.

As I groped my way along the rail in the bridge-wing, I heard a shrill voice behind me, “Don’t go away, Captain! Please stay. I can’t handle it alone. I can’t. Please, Sir. Don’t go!”

I turned around. It was Sanjay. He looked at me beseechingly with terror and fright in his eyes.

It penetrated to me in flash of revelation what I’d done.

I had transmitted my own fear into my crew. Sanjay was the Chief Officer. For him, to confess in front of the crew, that he could not handle it, brought home to me the fact of how desperate he was.

I had to take control at once.” You are not supposed to handle it as long as I’m around,” I shouted. “Go down to your cabin and catch up on your sleep. I don’t want passengers on the bridge. Get out from here.”

The moment those words left my mouth, I instantly regretted what I had said; but it was too late now. Sanjay was close to tears, humiliated in front of the crew. He shamefacedly left the bridge and went down to his cabin.

Suddenly, a searchlight was switched on, dead ahead. Instinctively I shouted an order to the quartermaster to swing the ship across the ship across to starboard. I crossed my fingers, desperately praying to avoid a collision. It was a near-miss, but the searchlight kept following our sheer to starboard.

I was angry now. I stopped the engines, picked up the loudhailer, rushed out the bridge-wing, leaned over, and shouted, “You stupid fools. Are you crazy? What the hell do you think you are doing?”

“We are in distress,” a voice answered. “Throw us a rope.”

I called the boatswain and told him to throw over the monkey-ladder. “Be careful, and report quickly,” I told him.

Ten minutes must have passed but there was no report. The silence was disquieting, ominous. I decided to go to the deck.

Before I could move, four men entered the bridge. They were wearing hoods. As I started at the nozzle of a carbine pointed at me, comprehensive dawned on me pretty fast. This was piracy on the high seas.

Incredible, but true, I had never imagined it would happen to me.

Undecided as to my next move, I stood there feeling far from heroic. There was no question of resistance. After all, this was a merchant ship, not a man-o’-war. Saving the lives of the crew was of paramount importance. The man pointing the carbine at me said softly, “Captain, we are taking over. Don’t try anything foolish. Tell the crew.”

Suddenly, there was deep shuddering sound followed by a deafening roar. The ship rose on top of a steep quivering hill and slithered down its slope. There was a resounding thud followed by reverberating screeching vibrations. We had run aground.

Suddenly the ship lurched wildly, throwing everyone off-balance. Sanjay suddenly appeared out of nowhere, made a running dive and grabbed the carbine from the pirate.

It happened too quickly, and so unexpectedly that I was totally dumbstruck. Everyone seemed to have opened fire. Bullets wildly straddled the bridge.

There was pandemonium, as crew members joined the melee, grappling with the pirates. I hit the deck and froze.

I don’t know who pulled me up, but by then everything was calm and quit. “The pirates have been overpowered,” said the boatswain, “but the Chief Officer ……….”

I followed his gaze.

Sanjay lay on the deck, in a pool of blood.

I knelt down beside him.

His face was vacant, but he tried to focus his eyes on me, whimpering, “Jayashree, Jayashree…” I shook him, he tried to get up, but slumped back – Sanjay was dead!

Six months later I knocked on a door.

There was long wait.

Then Jayashree opened the door.

Her gorgeously stunning dazzling face took my breath away.

She was even more beautiful than her photographs.

Dressed in white sari, she looked so proud in her grief that I felt embarrassed.

I had myself not yet recovered from the shock of Sanjay’s sudden death.

I said, awkwardly, “I am Captain Vijay.”

She looked directly into my eyes and said, “So I see.” Her dark eyes were hostile.

“I am sorry about what happened. Sanjay was a brave man, and we are all proud to have known him.” My words sounded insincere and I felt acutely uncomfortable.

“Proud!” she exclaimed, her magnificent eyes flashing. “Some people might feel grateful, especially those whose life he saved.”

I was stunned by the sting of her bitterness.

Never had I felt such a burning shame; the shame of being held responsible for someone’s death.

I looked at Jayashree helplessly, pleading innocence, but it was of no use.

It was hopeless now to try and explain.

The hurt was deep, and I had to let it go in silence.

Jayashree excused herself, turned and went inside.

It was then that I remembered the real reason for my visit.

I wanted to hand over what remained of Sanjay’s personal effects; an unfinished letter, a dairy, a framed photograph.

I would first give Jayashree the unfinished letter.

Once she read the letter – probably then she would understand the real reason for Sanjay’s reckless bravery, his suicidal heroics; his desperate concern about proving his masculinity.

When Jayashree returned, she was composed.

I gave her Sanjay’s unfinished letter.

She took the letter in her dainty hands and started reading it.

As she silently read on, I saw tears well up in her eyes.

I do not know whether I did the right thing by giving her Sanjay’s unfinished letter.

Probably it would have been wiser to destroy the letter and the diary – better to leave things unspoken and unhealed.

But I had thought it would be better to exorcise the sense of guilt and shame.

Better for me.

Better for Jayashree.

Best for both of us.

It was not easy, but we both had to come to terms with ourselves.

Jayashree finished reading the letter and looked at me, her eyes cold.

I looked at Jayashree, deep into her intoxicating eyes, and she looked into my eyes too.

We looked into each other, transfixed, in silence, a deafening silence.

And suddenly Jayashree’s frozen eyes melted and she smiled.

MELTING MOMENTS

Fiction Short Story – A Passionate Romance
By

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

I AM FEELING GOOD – Pure Romance

November 22, 2009

I AM FEELING GOOD

 

Short Fiction   –   Pure Romance   –   A Love Story

 

By 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

Dear Reader, it is a cold morning and during my morning walk this story, one of my earliest writings, suddenly came to my mind and then perambulated in me. It made me feel good. I am sure it will make you feel good too!

 

 

I felt good.

 

My eyes feasted on the snow-clad Himalayan Mountain peaks painted honey-gold by the first rays of sunlight.

 

Behind me, deep down, was the resplendent Doon valley.

 

I breathed in slowly, mouth and nose together, relishing the pure, cold, nourishing mountain air.

 

I felt on top of the world, literally and figuratively, as I stood high in the middle of nowhere on a refreshingly cold bright morning, undecided what I was going to do, or where I was going to go.

 

What greater freedom than not having anything to do or anywhere to go!

 

I felt I was flying like a bird in the sky, with no one to take my freedom away.

 

“Something exciting is going to happen today,” said a tingling sensation within me, as if I were on the top of a high roller-coaster ready to plunge into unknown depths.

 

Suddenly, at the spur of the moment I decided to visit Victor, and with a spring in my step started walking towards Landour.

 

“Who’s Piyu ?” I asked Victor, picking up and opening the book lying on the bedside table.

 

“Piyu?” Victor said, his voice feigning ignorance but his eyes gave him away.

 

“Yes. Piyu! It’s written here in this book‘ To my darling Victor, with fond memories of those wonderful moments at Port Blair. Love Piyu ‘ And Wow! Look at the lovely cursive feminine handwriting. So delicate. If her handwriting is so beautiful, she must be really gorgeous. A real beauty! Tell me. Who is she?” I asked teasingly.

 

“Shalini, you shouldn’t pry into others’ private matters,” Victor said.

 

“Private ? This is no personal dairy. It’s ‘Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov’. I’m taking it to read.”

 

“No,” Victor shouted and started to move his wheelchair towards me.

 

I know I had touched a raw nerve.

 

“I’m sorry,” I said and gave him the book.

 

He opened it and stared at Piyu’s handwriting.

 

“I thought there were no secrets between us,” I said.

 

“There aren’t,” he said.

 

“Except Piyu?”

 

“Please Shalu…….”

 

“You want to tell me about her?”

 

“Okay,” Victor said. And then he told me. About Piyu. And him. And their days in Port Blair. Maybe not everything. But whatever he wanted to tell me, he told me.

 

“Piyu ? A funny name?” I said.

 

“That’s what I called her. Like you call me Victor.”

 

I left it at that and said, “Now there are no secrets between us?”

 

“No! Now there are no secrets between us!” Victor said and gave me the book, “Read it, Shalu. There’s a story called ‘The Darling’. You’re just like the heroine. Always trying to mother me.”

 

“That’s because you are a naughty boy,” I teased.

 

“Naughty boy? I’m almost an old man. You should play with girls of your own age.”

 

“Play? You think I’m a small kid to play Barbie Doll? And you’re not that old either. You are just thirty.”

 

“I am twice your age.”

 

“Girls mature faster,” I said. “And your mental age is the same as mine.”

 

“Come on. You’re just a kid compared to me. I am a man of the world with a lot of experiences.”

 

“Like Piyu ………” I bit my tongue and said, “I’m sorry.”

 

“Piyu is a closed chapter,” Victor said.

 

“I’ve forgotten her,” I said “Piyu will never come between us again.”

 

“Promise?”

 

“I Promise.”

 

“Shalu, why don’t you come to meet me more often?” Victor asked.

 

“I don’t want to disturb you too much,” I replied.

 

“Disturb me?” he smiled. “It is impossible to disturb me. You see, I never do anything. Every day is a holiday for me, from morning to night, from the moment I get up to the moment I sleep, there is nothing to do, nothing to look forward to…”

 

“Don’t speak like that,” I said.

 

“Okay. But please come more often, Shalu. You make me feel good.”

 

“You too make me feel good!” I said.

 

It was true.

 

Talking to someone who needs comforting seems to make one’s own troubles go away.

 

“I’ll come on Wednesday. We’ve got a holiday,” I said.

 

“Promise?”

 

“Yes. We’ll discuss Anton Chekhov,” I said holding up the book.

 

“The Darling?”

 

“The Darling!” I said.

 

“Okay. Bye. Take care,” he said and lovingly looked at me as I began to walk away.

 

Victor had come into my life on a cold and rainy evening just a few months back.

 

I had slipped and fractured my leg playing basketball. It was a simple fracture.

 

Victor was convalescing from a severe injury to both his legs. His was a complex case, and for months he was confined to a wheelchair not knowing whether or when he would be able to walk again.

 

Actually, his name wasn’t Victor – he was Vivek – but everyone called him Victor, so I too started calling him Victor.

 

At first I called him Victor uncle. But as our friendship grew, somewhere on the way, the ‘uncle’ dropped. And now there were no secrets between us.

 

On Tuesday evening I rushed to see Victor bunking the self-study period.

 

“A clandestine visit,” I joked.

 

“Better be careful, Shalu. If your warden finds out, she may think something.”

 

“Let her,” I said, “I came to tell you I won’t be coming tomorrow.”

 

“Oh, no! I was looking forward to discussing Anton Chekhov with you.”

 

“Daddy is coming to Dehradun for some urgent work. He wants me to meet him at the station. He rang up the Principal for permission.”

 

“That’s great. I’m dying to meet your Dad. Make sure you bring him up here to Mussoorie.”

 

“I’ll try,” I said.

 

“You must. I want to ask him for your hand,” he said, tongue-in-cheek.

 

“How cute,” I said coyly.

 

“I’ll miss you,” he said.

 

“Take care.”

 

“You too take care. Okay Bye,” I said and rushed back to my hostel.

 

On Wednesday morning I left Mussoorie at six by the first bus and reached Dehradun railway station just in time for the express from Delhi which steamed in at eight.

 

Daddy was the first to get down from the AC coach and the moment he saw me his face lit up and he gave me a tight warm hug and smothered my cheeks with kisses.

 

“Please Papa,” I said embarrassed, “People are looking.”

 

“I feel so good when I see you, Shalu,” he said.

 

Papa kept the bag he was holding next to me and said, “Look after this. I’ll get the rest of the luggage.”

 

He beckoned to a porter and went back into the coach.

 

“Rest of the luggage?” I wondered.

 

Normally Papa travelled light, with just one bag.”

 

Soon there were three bags, a basket and a tall young woman with a small child in her arms standing beside Papa.

 

“Shalu, this is Ms. Bhattacharya. We travelled together from Delhi,” Papa introduced the woman, who smiled a sweet hello, and we began following the porter to the exit.

 

I looked at the woman through the corner of my eye. She was a real beauty, fair, with a skin like smooth cream. She looked straight ahead, as if looking at a distant object, and walked on expressionless.

 

But I noticed the way my Papa stole glances at her when he thought I wasn’t looking and I knew that she was much more than a mere fellow passenger.

 

I felt a tingle of excitement. Something was brewing. Maybe Papa was falling in love. Ten years after mummy had gone.

 

My father walked with a spring in his step, pulling his stomach in and thrusting his chest out.

 

“You seem very happy, Papa,” I said mischievously.

 

“Yes. Yes.” he said, “I’m so happy to see you, Shalu. You look so good.”

 

He opened the door of the taxi and looked at her, trying to mask the undisguised love in his eyes. It seemed a desperate case of thunderbolt.

 

I decided to have a bit of fun, quickly got in the car, and said, “Thanks, Papa, for treating me like a lady.”

 

Then I looked at the woman and said, “Bye Auntie.”

 

“Auntie is coming with us,” Papa said, “Shalu, you sit in front.”

 

“It’s okay, I’ll sit in front,” Ms. Bhattacharya said.

 

“There’s place for all of us at the back,” I said. “We can keep the basket in front next to the driver.”

 

I shifted, she sat next to me with the baby on her lap, Papa next to her on the other side and we drove in silence through Palton Bazar towards Rajpur road.

 

I kept quiet, waiting for Papa to tell me everything, but he too remained silent, probably because of the driver.

 

He got off outside an office. “You two can go to the guest house and freshen up. I’ll join you after finishing my work.

 

We sat alone at the breakfast table. The baby was sleeping inside. I looked at Ms. Bhattacharya. She looked so elegant yet youthful.

 

Late twenties? Maybe! Or maybe a bit younger.

 

I was dying to ask her everything, wondering what to say, when she looked into my eyes and spoke softly, “Shalu, I want to be your mother.”

 

I was touched by the way she phrased it.

 

I can’t begin to describe the emotions I felt, but instinctively I blurted out, “Why didn’t Papa tell me?”

 

She touched my hand and said, “He felt shy, embarrassed. You know how he is. He wanted me to tell you. And leave the decision to you.” She paused, and said; “I know it’s difficult for you. I promise we’ll do what you want. But try to understand. Your Papa feels very lonely.”

 

“And you?” I asked.

 

“I am lonely too,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes.

 

Suddenly she started to cry into her handkerchief, “I’m sorry,” she said, got up, and went into her room.

 

I sat confused.

 

She had been so calm and composed. And suddenly she broke down.

 

Had I said something wrong?

 

Maybe I was too young to understand. All I wanted was that Papa should be happy, everyone should be happy; even she should be happy.

 

Ms. Bhattacharya came out of the room. She had washed up, done up her face and looked so beautiful, so vulnerable, that I instantly felt like hugging her.

 

Something inside told me that she would make Papa very happy. And me too!

 

“I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s just that sometimes you wait for a moment and when it comes you don’t know what to do with it.”

 

 “I like you,” I said. “I know you’ll make Papa happy. Only I wish Papa had told me. Shall I call you mummy?”

 

She smiled, “Come on Shalini. Be my friend. Call me Priya.”

 

“Okay,” I held out my hand, “Priya, let’s be friends. And you call me Shalu.”

 

“Shalu, actually even I wanted your Papa to tell you,” she said.

 

“He must’ve been embarrassed.”

 

“Embarrassed?”

 

“To tell me that he’s fallen in love at his age.”

 

“He’s only 43.”

 

“And you, Priya?”

 

“28. Oh come on, I shouldn’t be telling you my age.”

 

“You look 25,” I said.

 

She blushed. The baby cried. She went inside.

 

I went into my room and lay on the bed. What a day! I just couldn’t wait to tell Victor all this. He’d die laughing. Maybe I should marry him. We are so happy together. If Papa can marry Priya, why can’t I marry Victor?

 

They – 43 and 28 – Adult Love!

 

We – 15 and 30 – Puppy Love?

 

It’s not fair, isn’t it?

 

I drifted into sleep.

 

When I woke up, Papa was sitting beside me on the bed.

 

“It’s past one,” he said. “Let’s go for lunch.”

 

“Why didn’t you tell me, Papa?” I asked.

 

His cheeks, his ears became red. He avoided my eyes.

 

“I guessed it the moment I saw you two at the station,” I said.

 

“You’ve really grown up, Shalu,” Papa said. “I’m so happy you have accepted her and your little brother.”

 

“Brother?” I said dumbstruck, and slowly comprehension dawned on me. I closed my eyes. All sorts of thoughts entered my brains. And suddenly everything was clear. “Oh yes. My little brother.”

 

Lunch passed off in a trance and soon we were on our way to Mussoorie. I’d wanted to go alone by bus, but Papa wouldn’t hear of it. He had work at the site office near Mussoorie and Priya wanted to see my school. She hadn’t been to Mussoorie before.

 

It was almost five when Papa got off at the site office and we were cruising on the Mall on the way to my school. Priya was looking out of the window as if searching for something. Suddenly she asked the driver to stop.

 

“I have to get something. Please look after the baby for a moment,” she said.

 

I took the baby in my lap and saw her enter Hackman’s, the biggest departmental store in Mussoorie.

 

She returned fast. “A small gift for you, Shalu” she said giving me a gift-wrapped packet and an envelope containing a greeting card.

 

I opened the envelope. It was a ‘Thank-you’ card.

 

She had written a message on the inside of the card:  “…To my darling daughter and friend, Shalini…”

 

I kept on starting at the beautiful handwriting, unable to read further.

 

Instantly, I recognized the same unique familiar lovely cursive handwriting, so feminine, so delicate.

 

Tremors started reverberating in my stomach, like a roller coaster. My pulse was racing. The car negotiated the steep road past Picture Palace up the winding slopes of Landour.

 

“Priya, look,” I said pointing out of the car window, “that’s the oldest building in Mussoorie. It’s called Mullingar. Isn’t it just like the Cellular Jail?”

 

“Yes,” she said.

 

“You’ve seen Cellular Jail?” I asked.

 

“Of course,” she said. “Many times.”

 

“You’ve been to Port Blair?” I persisted.

 

“Yes. I’ve lived there. It’s a lovely place,” she said.

 

“How lucky,” I said. “I’ve only seen pictures of Cellular Jail.”

 

Silence. Pregnant silence.

 

Then I spoke, looking at her child seated on her lap, “Baby. He’s so cute. How old is he?”

 

“Six months,” she said.

 

“You haven’t named him?

 

“Oh yes,” she said, “we call him Baby, his real name is Vivek.”

 

“Vivek?”

 

“Yes. Vivek ,” she said “It’s a nice name, isn’t it?”

 

“Yes,” I answered.

 

I patted the driver on the shoulder and said, “Seedha Le Chalo. Jaldi. Drive fast. To Landour Hospital.”

 

“Hospital?” Priya asked flabbergasted.

 

“I want you to meet someone,” I said.

 

The car stopped outside the hospital. “Come,” I said, and Priya holding her baby in her arms followed me towards the door of Victor’s room.

 

I opened the door and said, “Come Piyu. Go right in. Your Victor is waiting for you, for both of you.”

 

I didn’t wait to see the expression on her face.

 

I quickly turned and ran to the car and shouted to the driver, “Driver – jaldi karo. Be quick. Take me to the site office. Fast.”

 

As the car descended down the steep slopes of Landour, past Char-Dukan, towards Picture Palace at the end of the Mall, I took out Anton Chekhov’s book from my purse.

 

I’ll have plenty of time to read it now.

 

Maybe I’ll keep it as a souvenir to remember Victor.

 

I opened the book, read on the first page: “To my darling Victor…Love. Piyu.”

 

I took out my cell-phone and sent an SMS to Victor: “Happy Reunion!”

 

Then I turned the page and began reading Anton Chekhov’s enthralling short story ‘The Darling.’

 

As I write this I am feeling good.

 

Yes, I am feeling good.

 

Don’t ask me why.

 

Happiness goes when you speak of it.

 

 

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.

 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

 

 

Appetite for a Stroll

  

 

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

 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

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