Posts Tagged ‘internet’

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.
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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.

THREE-IN-ONE LOVE STORY

July 17, 2011

THREE-IN-ONE LOVE STORY.

click the title above to read this love story on my creative writing blog

Vikram Karve : FOOD – HOW TO EAT IT

February 14, 2011

Vikram Karve : FOOD – HOW TO EAT IT.

 

FOOD – HOW TO EAT IT

THE ART OF EATING
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Are you in the habit of “grabbing a bite”…?

Do you ever eat in the office while continuing to work or just skip meals altogether…?
Do you multitask while eating…?
Do you have power breakfasts, working lunches and business dinners…?
Do you eat fast and hurriedly, finish meals well ahead of everyone else and eat in bigger bites without savoring the taste of food…?
Can you vividly recall the taste of all the dishes you ate during your last meal?

Do you eat when you eat…?
Do you want to master the Art of Eating and learn how to enjoy your food…?
Remember, there is no love greater than the love of eating – so read on, learn and try to master the Art of Eating…
Good food must be savored delicately; slowly, attentively and respectfully; in a befitting manner, with finesse and technique, with relish and appreciation and you will experience true gustatory delight.
That’s essence of the Art of Eating.
It is sacrilege to eat in a ravenous and rapacious manner.
Never eat when tired, angry, worried, tense, hurried, and at mealtimes refuse to think or talk about unpleasant subjects.
It is best to eat alone, mindfully, with yourself, in glorious solitude, in a calm, serene, conducive and unhurried environment.
If you must have company, you must always eat with friendly, relaxed and tranquil people who love food and whose company you enjoy; never eat with “toxic”, “harried” or “stressed-out” people or in a tense or hurried atmosphere.
If you want to do full justice to good food, you must build up an appetite for it – merely being hungry is not enough.
And the first step towards building up an appetite for good food is to think about it – simulated imaginative gustatory visualization to stimulate and prepare yourself for the sumptuous indulgence.
An important thing we were taught at boarding school was to read the menu and prepare for the meal by beginning to imagine relishing each and every dish, from soup to pudding, in our mind’s eye.
Remember: First plan your “eat” and then eat your “plan”.
It is true.
I eat my food twice.
First I “eat” in my mind’s eye – imagining, visualizing, “vicariously tasting”, fantasizing, strategizing on how I am going to savor and relish the dish to my utmost pleasure and satisfaction till my mouth waters and I desperately yearn to eat it.
And then I do the honours – actually go ahead and physically eat it and enjoy the delightful experience.
Eating is not a gustatory experience alone; it is visual and olfactory as well.
Food must look good, smell good, taste good and, most importantly, make you feel good.
The Art of Eating – a Holistic, Multidimensional experience, encompassing all domains of your inner being.
Eat in silence. Mindfully. With full awareness.
Savour the aroma, delicately place the food on your tongue, chew slowly and experience the variety of flavours as the permeate your taste buds, fully aware and sense the nourishment as the food dissolves and sinks deep within you.
Chew your food to a pulp or milky liquid until it practically swallows itself.
Never mix food and drink – alcohol dulls the taste buds, and olfactory sensation, and encumbers the unmitigated enjoyment of good food.
You must always close your eyes during the process of eating.
When you eat, you must eat; nothing else, no seeing, no hearing, no talking. No multitasking. That’s right – never multi-task while eating.
Just eat…Yes, when you eat just eat

Focus all your senses on your food, eat mindfully, meditatively, and you will attain a state of delightful bliss and happiness.
It is simple. Very simple.

Create a positive eating atmosphere, an environment of happy conducive vibes, honour your taste buds, respect your food and eat it in a proper state of mind, with love, zest, awareness and genuine appreciation and it will transport you to a state of bliss and happiness.

Remember: There is no love greater than the love of eating…
In a nutshell, this is the “Art of Eating“.
Dear Reader, long back I read a Teaching Story (Inspirational Tale), maybe it was a Zen or Tao Story, quoted by Thich Nhat Hanh, from where I derived my inspiration for The Art of Eating. I am giving you this teaching story in my own words below for you to read and reflect on, as I feel it is most apt here, in your quest to master the ART OF EATING:

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Spirituality, Meditation and Art of Living had become the “in thing”.

Courses on the Art of Living were proliferating all over and every one was rushing to attain instant happiness, inner peace, nirvana and bliss.

A wise old man, a teacher, living in the neighbourhood announced that he would teach instant Art of Living free of cost.

On the first day he drew a huge crowd.

“What do you all want to achieve?” the teacher asked the audience.

“Inner peace, tranquillity and true happiness,” everyone shouted in unison.

“For that you have to attain enlightenment.” the teacher said.

“How?” the audience asked.

“By practicing the Art of Living,” the teacher said.

“How do you practice the Art of Living? Please teach us,” the audience asked the teacher eagerly.

“It is simple – just eat and sleep,” the teacher said, “you can practise the art of living by eating and by sleeping.”

“What nonsense!” the astounded audience exclaimed.

“Yes,” said the teacher nonchalantly, “When Hungry, Eat; and When Tired, Sleep – that is the Art of Living”.

“Everybody does that!” shouted the audience.

“No. Everybody does not Eat when they Eat and everybody does not Sleep when they Sleep”, the teacher said calmly, “but when I eat, I only eat and when I sleep I only sleep. That is the Art of Living I practice – I live in the present moment fully focussed on whatever I am doing with full awareness.”


So, Dear Reader, Please Don’t GRAB THAT BITE – Remember: First plan your “eat” and then eat your “plan”.

All the Best…!
Happy Eating…!

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
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.

VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale, and Bishop’s School Pune, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. 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. He has written a foodie book Appetite For A Stroll and a book of fiction short stories COCKTAIL which is being published soon and is currently busy writing his first novel. Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile of Vikram Karve:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
Creative Writing by Vikram Karve: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm


http://shopping.sify.com/appetiteforastroll-vikram-karve/books/9788190690096.htm


Short Stories Book:

Cocktail – Short Stories about Relationships :

http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?pages#!/pages/Cocktail-by-Vikram-Karve-APK-Publishers/177873552253247


© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

 

Vikram Karve : COCKTAIL – Short Stories about Relationships By VIKRAM KARVE

February 12, 2011

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: COCKTAIL – Short Stories about Relationships By VIKRAM KARVE.

 

COCKTAIL – Short Stories about Relationships By VIKRAM KARVE

Dear Fellow Bloggers and Friends,
My book titled COCKTAIL – a collection of my fiction short stories is about to be published soon. I will let all of you know the moment it is ready and about the launch. I look forward to your patronage and encouragement. Here is the backcover blurb
Relationships are like cocktails.
Every relationship is a unique labyrinthine melange of emotions, shaken and stirred, and, like each cocktail, has a distinctive flavour and taste.
The twenty-seven stories in this collection explore fascinating aspects of modern day relationships – love, romance, sex, betrayal, marriage, parenting and even pet parenting.
You will relish reading these riveting cocktails of emotions narrated in easy engaging style and once you start reading you will find this delicious “cocktail” unputdownable.
Wish me luck
Vikram Karve
VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale, and Bishop’s School Pune, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. 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. He has written a foodie book Appetite For A Stroll and a book of fiction short stories COCKTAIL which is being published soon and is currently busy writing his first novel. Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile of Vikram Karve: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
Creative Writing by Vikram Karve: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm

http://shopping.sify.com/appetiteforastroll-vikram-karve/books/9788190690096.htm

http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?pages#!/pages/Cocktail-by-Vikram-Karve-APK-Publishers/177873552253247

Creative Writing by Vikram Karve: A POET AND HIS MUSE

February 3, 2011

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: A POET AND HIS MUSE.

A POET AND HIS MUSE
THE CREATIVE ENGINE
Fiction Short Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Do you remember the moment when you saw your first creative effort published, your very own words in print, for the world to read?
I do.
It was the happiest moment of my life when I saw my first fiction short story published in the Sunday literary supplement of a newspaper long long back. (Well  literary supplements have disappeared long back and today we have page 3 gossip and entertainment news in their place).
Tell me, dear reader, what inspires you to write…?
Do you have a “Creative Engine”  –  to inspire you and help you unleash your creative talents…?
Some of us may be inspired by a Muse.
Here is a simple Story of a Poet and his Muse. I am sure you will like the story.

Chotte Lal is in seventh heaven, on cloud nine…call it what you like.

But one thing is sure. This is the happiest moment of his life.


Chotte Lal experiences a delightfully beautiful emotion as he looks lovingly at his own words printed on the top left hand corner of the last page of the newspaper.

Chotte Lal experiences an ecstatic feeling of pride, joy, thrill – I really have no words to describe this unique emotion, but if you are a writer, just recall the moment when you saw your first creative effort in print, and you will understand what I mean.


Chotte Lal reads his poem to himself, slowly, deliberately, tenderly, drinking in each word, drowns his self in his creation, in a state of blissful timelessness, till the bookstall owner roughly shakes him out of his idyllic reverie loudly asking for money for the newspaper.

Chotte Lal pays him, and then, continuing to read his own poetry, walks with a spring in his step towards the running room to share his happiness with his colleagues.

And as he strides down the long platform towards his destination, let me tell you a bit about Chotte Lal, the hero of our story, an Engine Driver in the railways.

Chotte Lal’s father was a humble gangman whose life’s ambition was to make his motherless son an Engine Driver.

Everyday as he looked up from his lowly place beside the railway tracks fascinated by the sight of the haughty engine drivers speeding by, roughly snatch the tokens he held up for them, and then rudely throw their tokens kept in small leather pouches mounted on large cane rings at a distance for him to fetch and hand over to the signalman, his resolve became stronger and stronger, and Chotte Lal’s father dreamed of the moment when his son, sitting in the driver’s seat, would pick up the token from him.


The day his dutiful obedient son Chotte Lal was selected as an engine driver, his father was so overjoyed, that he celebrated all night, indulging himself so much that he died of liver failure in the morning.

Now let’s get back to our story and see what our hero Chotte Lal is up to.

Chotte Lal walks into the driver running room. No one notices. His fellow drivers are busy playing cards.

“See. See. My poem has been published,” Chotte Lal says excitedly holding out the newspaper.

A driver takes the newspaper from his hands and says. “Hey, look, there is going to be a pay hike…” and he begins reading the headlines from the front page as the others listen.

“No. No. Not there. My poem is on the back page,” Chotte Lal says.

“Where?”

Chotte Lal turns the paper and shows him.

“Good,” the driver says even without reading the poem, turns back to the first page and begins reading aloud details of the pay hike.

“Illiterate Greedy Dopes. Bloody Riff Raff…! Only interested in money,” Chotte Lal says in anger snatching the paper.

“Oh yes, we are illiterates worried about money, not philosophers like you wasting your time writing poetry,” someone says.

“Why don’t you become a Professor instead of wasting time here?” another taunts.

“Or join the film industry, write poems for songs, sher-shairy…” they jeer.

Chotte Lal walks out in a huff.

But let me tell you dear reader that the drivers are right.

Chotte Lal certainly doesn’t belong here amongst this hard drinking rough and earthy fraternity.

Chotte Lal lives on a higher plane – while his compatriots drink and gamble to pass their time in their leisure and changeover breaks, Chotte Lal reads, and now, he writes.

Had Chotte Lal got the proper opportunity he would be a man of erudition, but as I have already told you, circumstances willed otherwise and poor Chotte Lal he had no choice.


Chotte Lal is a good engine driver. He is happy in his job and content with life. He never gets bored with the long waits for he always carries with him a good book to read. And now he’s started writing – yes, creative writing.

Chotte Lal always wanted to write but did not know how till one evening, while waiting for a signal, the glorious spectacle of the setting sun, the picturesque countryside, the villagers hurrying home, the birds chirping returning to their nests, the endless tracks disappearing into the horizon in front of him, the whole scene in its entirety, inspired him so much that the spark of creativity was ignited within him and for the first time he poured out his inner feelings on paper, and thereby was born his first creative effort, a poem – Waiting for the Signal.

Chotte Lal lives in a typical railway town, a relic of the Raj, with its spacious well laid out railway colony with huge bungalows and neat cottages, amidst plenty of greenery and expanse.

This quaint mofussil town boasts of a newspaper – a four page tabloid really.

The back page of this local rag features crosswords, tit-bits, and creative contributions from readers, which Chotte Lal always reads with avid interest and it was his dream to see his own creative writing printed right there on that page one day.


So he neatly wrote down his first creative composition “Waiting for the Signal” on a foolscap sheet of paper torn from his daughter’s notebook and personally submitted his contribution to the editor who gave him an amused look and said, “We’ll see!”

Chotte Lal waited, and waited, almost lost hope, and now, at long last, his poem had been published.

Chotte Lal walks conspicuously towards the exit of the Railway Station, deliberately stopping by at the Station Master’s Office, the ASMs, the Train Clerks, the TTEs, yearning for appreciation, hoping someone would say something, but all he gets is smiles of forced geniality.

“Useless fellows!” he says to himself, and then begins walking fast towards his house eager to show his poem to his wife and children.

Seeing Chotte Lal walk past his dhaba without even a glance in that direction, Ram Bharose senses something terribly is wrong, for every time Chotte Lal returns from duty he always stops by at Ram Bharose’s Dhaba for a cup of tea and to pick up a parcel of Anda-Bun for Engine, his pet dog.

As always, Engine is the first to welcome him at the compound gate of his home and gives him the customary enthusiastic reception, playful, vigorously wagging his tail, barking, jumping, running – but today Chotte Lal’s response is different – he just walks by –  no hugging, no fondling, no baby-talk and most importantly no Anda-Bun.

Engine is confused at his Master’s odd behaviour and follows him loyally towards the door of the cottage.

Chotte Lal rings the bell.

His wife of twenty years opens the door, gives him a preoccupied look, and begins walking towards the kitchen.


“See, See,” Chotte Lal says with childlike enthusiasm, “My poem had been published in the newspaper.”

“Poem…? What Poem…?” his wife asks.

Chotte Lal hands over the tabloid to his wife and shows her the poem – Waiting for the Signal.

His wife gives it a cursory glance and asks, “How much did they pay you for it…?”

“Pay me…? What are you talking…?” Chotte Lal asks puzzled.

“Yes. Pay you. Don’t tell me you are doing this for charity. Or maybe the poem is so third rate that they haven’t thought it worth even a paisa,” his wife says scornfully.

“Please!” Chotte Lal raises his voice getting angry, “This beautiful poem is the fruit of my creative effort, not some item for sale. Where is the question of money? You will never understand the value of creative reward!”

“Creative reward my foot…! This good for nothing local rag prints a poem of yours and you are boasting as if you have won the Nobel Prize…!” his wife mocks. “Why don’t you stop wasting your time doing all this nonsense and join my brother’s transport business – he wants to make you the Regional Manager.”

“I don’t want to go to the city.”

“You want to rot in this godforsaken place driving engines all your life?”

“I like my job. I like this place. I like to read and write.”

“Oh yes, now all you will be doing is wasting your time and your effort writing all this nonsense for free, when you could be earning handsomely if you put in the same efforts elsewhere!”

“I am happy where I am and content with what I have.”

“Oh, sure. You are happy to live in a gutter and watch other men climb mountains!”

“Papa, Mama is right,” his daughter interjects appearing suddenly, “Why don’t you retire and take your pension and then take up the job uncle is offering you as regional manager in his transport business and let us all move to the city…?”

“Here, here,” the father says excitedly, giving the newspaper to his daughter, “My poem is published today. Read it and tell me how you like it.”

“You can read it later. Have your breakfast first,” her mother says sternly, “you’re getting late for college.”

“Take the newspaper with you. Show my poem to your friends, your teacher,” he says.

A horn honks. The girl puts the newspaper in her bag and rushes out. Chotte Lal excitedly runs behind his daughter towards the gate and shouts to her, “My poem is on the back page…it is called Waiting for the Signal…”

A boy is waiting for her on a motorcycle. Maybe it’s her college classmate, her boyfriend, maybe… Chotte Lal realises how little he knows about his children.

His son – he has already gone to the city to work in his uncle’s company. He is obsessed with earning money and has no time for the finer things of life. Like mother like son. He feels sad. It’s a pity, a real pity.

There is nothing worse for a man than to realise that his wife, his son are ashamed of him.

Maybe his daughter will appreciate his poem, his talent, his creative genius, his worth – after all she is a student of arts.


He looks at his daughter. She is talking to the boy, pointing to the rear seat, telling him it is dirty.

Then, she takes out the precious newspaper which Chotte Lal has given her. Chotte Lal looks on in anticipation. Maybe his daughter is going to show the poem to the boy.

Yes, Chotte Lal’s daughter does take out the newspaper from her bag. But she doesn’t even open it, leave alone showing her father’s poem to her friend. She just crumples the newspaper and wipes the motorcycle seat with it and throws it on the ground.

Then she sits on the seat and they drive off on the motorcycle.


Chotte Lal experiences a pain much worse than if a knife had pierced through his heart.

His dog Engine rushes out, picks up the newspaper in his mouth, brings it to Chotte Lal, drops it at his feet and begs for his treat.

Suddenly Chotte Lal realises he has forgotten to get Engine’s customary treat – the Anda-Bun.

“Come,” he says to Engine.

He picks up the newspaper and they both, Master and dog, walk towards Ram Bharose’s Dhaba.


Chotte Lal looks at Engine as he happily cavorts and gambols in spontaneous delight at this unexpected outing.

“And now you have got a Pie Dog, a Mongrel,” his wife was furious when he had got the tiny abandoned pup whose mother had been run over by a train.

First he used to take the baby puppy along with him in his Engine, and his assistant driver named the pup “Engine”. But soon the word spread and he got a memo.

Since then Engine remained home, and whenever Chotte Lal was away on duty, poor Engine was dependent on the reluctant love of his wife who Chotte Lal suspected actually liked the cheerful dog.


They reach Ram Bharose’s Dhaba.

“What happened, Driver Sahib, you didn’t take your usual Anda-Bun parcel…?” Ram Bharose says.

“I forgot,” Chotte Lal says, “Give me one Anda-Bun now, and a cup of tea.”

Chotte Lal thinks of showing the poem to Ram Bharose, but hesitates. The poor guy may barely be literate. And if educated people like his colleagues, even his wife, and daughter, no one could appreciate his creative composition, how can he expect this country bumpkin to do so.

So he sits down and decides to read his own poem to himself – celebrate his own personal victory, and not be dependent on others for his happiness.

He gives the Anda-Bun to his delighted dog Engine who sits at his feet and starts polishing it off hungrily.

Then he sips the piping hot rejuvenating tea and starts reading the poem to himself.

Suddenly he feels a nudge on his feet – it’s Engine, prodding with his paw, looking up expectantly at him, eyes dazzling, making a sound, talking, trying to say something.

“Want to hear my poem…?” Chotte Lal lovingly asks his pet dog Engine, affectionately caressing the dog’s ears.

Engine gets up, nods his head, places it on Chotte Lal’s knee adoringly, and wags his tail.

As Chotte Lal reads his poem “Waiting at the Signal”, his devoted dog Engine listens to His Master’s voice with rapt attention, his eyes glued on Chotte Lal’s face, and his tail wagging in appreciation.

After he finishes reading the poem, Chotte Lal looks lovingly at Engine. Engine looks back at him with frank admiration, wags his tail, and proffers his paw as a “shake hand” gesture.

Chotte Lal is overwhelmed with emotion. He orders one more Anda-Bun for Engine.

Delighted at his Master’s sudden spurt of generosity, Engine gratefully devours the delicious Anda-Bun and looks pleadingly at Chotte Lal as if saying: “Encore.”

“You want to hear once again,” Chotte Lal asks Engine, who again keeps his head tenderly on Chotte Lal’s knee, looks up lovingly at his Master, continuously wagging his tail, listening with rapt attention to his Master’s voice, waiting for him to finish, in eager anticipation for his reward of an Anda-Bun.

Many such recitations and Anda-Buns later, dog and master, Engine and Chotte Lal walk back home.

Chotte Lal looks admiringly at Engine – his sincere patron, a true connoisseur who understands, appreciates.

He gets the inner urge to write, to express, to say something – Engine has ignited the spark of creativity within him.


Moments later, the creativity within him unleashed, Chotte Lal sits at his desk and pours out his latent emotions, his inner feelings, on paper, writing poem after poem, while his darling pet dog, his stimulus, his inspiration, his muse, his motivating “Engine”, sits loyally by his side looking lovingly at his Master with undisguised affection.

And so, the Railway Engine Driver Chotte Lal creates and his “Creative Engine” inspires and appreciates – they sit together in sublime unison – the Poet and his Muse – in perfect creative harmony.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010

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.
VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale, and Bishop’s School Pune, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. 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. He has written a foodie book Appetite For A Stroll and a book of fiction short stories which is being published soon and is busy writing his first novel. Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm
Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:
http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile of Vikram Karve:

vikramkarve@sify.com
Foodie Book:
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

DEAD END

January 22, 2011

DEAD END.

 

DEAD END
Short Fiction – A Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE
From my Creative Writing Archives:
I wrote this short story sometime in the mid 1990s. Then, it was highly appreciated. I think it is quite relevant even today.
Manjunath was a contended 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. Isn’t this 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 where 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 operation began.
Awe-struck, Manjunath saw the might of the government on display. He 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 IV job for him out here.”
“Hold your tongue,” said the rehabilitation officer. “These so-called ‘illiterate buggers’, as you call them, were land-owners, displaced from their own land.”
“Okay, okay. Don’t get hot,” the employment officer said to the rehabilitation officer. Then he looked at Manjunath and curtly asked him, “Do you posses 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’ll 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 land-owner into a cook, first in the ramshackle canteen for construction workers and later 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 stooped going for my daily evening jog to Baicol beach, for now it was littered with debris from the construction work and the air was no longer pure, but polluted by fumes and dust and the noise 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, for I no longer loved the place and, more so, because it was getting painful to see 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 change 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.”
“Don’t give me bullshit!” I shouted. “Then how the hell has this posh residential complex come up here? And if they didn’t want the land for the steel plant then why wasn’t this land returned back to the original owners?”
“Sir, land which was sold by the acre in your time, fifteen years ago, is now priced the same 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.”
I wasn’t surprised. 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 what’s a 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 can’t 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’s 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 how to get Manjunath off the hook.
An hour later the SP came rushing into the police headquarters. He looked dazed, as if he had been pole-axed. “The guy went crazy,” he stammered. “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’s blood everywhere.”
In the morgue, looking at Manjunath’s dead body the SP commented, “Look at the expression on his face, sir. He looks so content.”
“Yes,” I said. “He’s reached the dead end.”
VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
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.

VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale, and Bishop’s School Pune, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. 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. His delicious foodie blogs have been compiled in a book “Appetite for a Stroll”. Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog –http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm
Academic Journal Vikram Karve – http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile of Vikram Karve – http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

LOVE IN MYSORE – a short story by Vikram Karve

January 19, 2011

LOVE IN MYSORE.

LOVE IN MYSORE
Romantic Fiction
by
VIKRAM KARVE
From my Creative Writing Archives: One of my earliest short fiction stories, written long back, maybe 15 years ago…
The Mysore racecourse is undoubtedly the most picturesque racecourse in India . The lush green grass track, the verdant expanse right up to the foot of the rugged Chamundi hills which serve as a magnificent backdrop with the mighty temple atop, standing like a sentinel. The luxuriant ambience is so delightful and soothing to the eye that it instantly lifts one’s spirit. And on this bright morning on the first Saturday of October, the atmosphere was so refreshing that I felt as if I were on top of the world!
“I love this place, it’s so beautiful,” I said.
“And lucky too,” Girish, my husband, added. “I have already made fifty grand. And I’m sure Bingo will win the Derby tomorrow.”
Girish appraisingly looked at the horses being paraded in the paddock, suddenly excused himself, and briskly walked towards the Bookies’ betting ring.
I still can’t describe the shock I experienced when I suddenly saw Dilip, bold as brass, standing bang in front of me, appearing from nowhere. “Excuse me, ma’am,” he said. “I think you have dropped this.” In his hand was tote jackpot ticket.
He was looking at me in a funny sort of way, neither avoiding my eyes nor seeking them. I understood at once. I took the tote ticket he proffered, put it in my purse and thanked him. He smiled, turned and briskly walked away towards the first enclosure.
I felt a tremor of trepidation, but as I looked around I realized that no one had noticed our quick encounter in the hustle-bustle of the racecourse. As I waited for my husband to emerge from the bookies’ betting ring, in my mind’s eye I marveled at the finesse with which Dilip had cleverly stage-managed the contrived encounter to make it look completely accidental.
It was only after lunch, in the solitude of my hotel room that I took out the tote jackpot ticket and examined it. I smiled to myself. It was the simplest substitution cipher – maybe Dilip thought I’d gone rusty – a last minute improvisation for immediate emergency communication.
That meant Dilip wasn’t shadowing me; he hadn’t even expected me at the Mysore racecourse. But having suddenly seen me, he desperately wanted to make contact. So he quickly improvised, contrived the encounter, and left further initiative to me. The ball was now squarely in my court.
I scribbled the five numbers of the jackpot combination on a piece of paper. For seasoned punters, racing buffs, it was an unlikely jackpot combination that hardly had a chance of winning, and now that the races were over the ticket was worthless. But for me hidden in it was some information since I knew how to decipher the secret code. To the five numbers I added the two numbers of my birth-date. I now had seven numbers and from each I subtracted Dilip’s single digit birth-date and in front of me I had a seven-digit combination. I picked up the telephone and dialed [At the time of this story Mysore still had seven digit telephone numbers – I wonder what it is now!]. It was a travel agency – a nice cover. I didn’t identify myself but only said, “Railway Enquiry?”
“Oh, Yes, madam,” a male voice answered. I recognized it at once. It was Dilip, probably anxiously waiting for my call. “You are booked on our evening sightseeing tour. Seat No. 13. The luxury coach will be at your hotel at 3 in the afternoon. And don’t carry your mobile with you. We don’t want to be tracked.”
I looked at my watch. It was almost 2:30 . Time for a quick wash. I tore up the jackpot tote ticket and scribble paper and flushed it down the toilet. It was too dangerous to keep them around once their utility was over. And should the ticket fall into the wrong hands, anything was possible – one couldn’t underestimate anybody. For human ingenuity cannot concoct a cipher which human ingenuity cannot resolve.
The tourist bus arrived precisely at 3 o’clock and soon I was in seat No. 13, a window seat. I had hardly sat down when Dilip occupied the adjacent seat No. 14. He was carrying the ubiquitous tourist bag, but I knew what was inside – the tools of his tradecraft.
“Thanks for coming, Vibha,” he said.
“I was scared you’d do something stupid, indiscreet.” I scolded him, “And Girish…”
“You haven’t told your husband about us?” Dilip interrupted.
“No.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know.”
“Tell him now. There’s no place for secrets between husband and wife”
“I can’t. I don’t want to. It’s too late now.” I was getting a bit impatient now. “Listen, Dilip. This is dangerous. What do you want? Girish, my husband…”
“He’s gone to Ooty. It’s a four hours’ drive. Should be half-way up the hills by now,” Dilip interjected looking at his watch.
“He is coming back tomorrow.”
“I know. He’ll be there in time for the Mysore Derby. Your horse Bingo is running, isn’t it? It’s a hot favourite too!”
“How do you know all this?”
“It’s common knowledge. Besides I make a living prying into other people’s lives.” Dilip paused for a moment. “Don’t worry, Vibha. The races start only at two in the afternoon. And the Derby is at four. We’ve got plenty of time together. He won’t know. I promise you.”
The bus stopped. We had arrived at the majestic Mysore Palace .
“Come, Vibha. Let me take your photo,” Dilip said, talking out his camera.
“No,” I snapped.
“Okay. You take mine. I’ll stand there. Make sure you get the Palace entrance in the frame.” He gave me the camera and said, “Have a look. It’s a special camera. I’ll focus the zoom lens if you want.”
I pointed the camera in the direction of the palace and looked through the viewfinder. But the palace wasn’t in the frame. The camera had a ninety-degree perpendicular prismatic zoom lens. I could see the tourists from our bus crowding around the shoe-stand about fifty meters to my left, depositing their shoes.
“Dilip, tell me, who is the Target?” I asked.
“Lady in the sky-blue sari, long hair. And the man in the yellow T-shirt and jeans, still wearing his Ray Ban aviator.”
I happily clicked away, a number of photos, the unsuspecting victims, the young target couple, not once realizing that it was they who were in my frame.
“I don’t think they are having an affair,” I said, once we were inside the cool confines of the Mysore Palace , admiring the wall paintings of the Dasera procession. “The boy looks so young, mod and handsome. And the woman – she’s middle-aged, a shy, timid, unadventurous, stay-at-home type. And just look at her face, her looks – so pedestrian. A most improbable combination.”
“Yes, a most improbable combination – that’s why their affair is flourishing for so long!”
I gave Dilip a quizzical look.
“Three years,” Dilip said. “It’s going on for over three years. The woman is a widow. She gets a huge monthly maintenance from her in-laws’ property – in lakhs. It’s a wealthy business family. They want to stop giving her the monthly maintenence.”
“I don’t understand,” I said, confused.
“The right of a widow to maintenance is conditional upon her leading a life of chastity,” Dilip quoted matter-of-factly.
“What nonsense!”
“That’s what their hot-shot lawyer told me. The one who commissioned this investigation,” Dilip said. “They’ll probably confront her with this evidence and coerce her into signing-off everything. Maybe even her children.”
“What if she doesn’t agree?”
“Then we’ll intensify the surveillance. A ‘no holds barred’ investigation. Two-way mirrors with installed video cameras, bugs with recording equipment,” Dilip paused, and said, “In fact, in this case I’m so desperate for success that I’m even considering image morphing if nothing else works.”
I was shocked. “Isn’t it morally disgusting? To do all these unethical dirty things. Extortion? Blackmail? To what length does one go?” I asked Dilip annoyed.
“Once you have the right information, the possibilities are endless,” Dilip said softly, “It’s not my concern to worry about moral and ethical issues. I never ask the question ‘why’. I just state my fee. And even if I do know why, I’ve made it a policy never to show that I understand what other people are up to.”
“What are you up to Dilip? And why me?” I asked.
Dilip did not answer. He just smiled and led me towards our bus. I was glad I had not married Dilip. I had never known he could sink to such depths. I hated him for the way he was using me. Taking advantage of my fear, my past, and my helplessness. Filthy emotional blackmailer. Shameless bully. I looked at Dilip with loathing but he just grinned at me bald-facedly like a Cheshire Cat.
Nalini, my elder sister, had been right about Dilip. Thanks to her for saving my life. But for her timely intervention, I would have married Dilip. Maybe even eloped with him. I shudder to think what my life would have been like had I married Dilip.
“It’s beautiful,” Dilip said, looking at the famous painting – ‘Lady with the Lamp’ – at the Mysore Museum .
“Yes,” I answered, jolted out of my thoughts.
“Remember, Vibha. The last time we were here. It’s been almost ten years.”
I did not answer, but I clearly remembered. It was our college tour. And Dilip had quickly pulled me into a dark corner and kissed me on the lips. A hasty inchoate stolen kiss. My first kiss. And the tremors of trepidation. How could I ever forget?
“Vibha. Tell me honestly. Why did you ditch me so suddenly, so mercilessly?”
“Nalini told me not to marry you,” I said involuntarily, instantly regretting my words.
“And then she forced you to marry Girish, your brother-in-law.”
“Girish is not my brother-in-law. He is my co-brother.”
“Co-brother indeed! He is the younger brother of your elder sister Nalini’s husband. So he is your brother-in-law also, isn’t it?” Dilip said sarcastically.
“So what?” I snapped angrily. “It’s not illegal. Two brothers marrying two sisters – it’s quite common. And it’s none of your business.”
“Business!” Dilip said. “That’s it. Business! Two sisters marry two brothers. So it’s all in the family. The business. The money. The tea estates and coffee plantations. The industries. The property. Everything.”
“So that’s what you had your eyes on, didn’t you? My father’s property!” I knew it was a cruel thing to say and I could see that Dilip was genuinely hurt. Instinctively I realized that Dilip was still in love with me. Maybe he was jealous of my successful marriage, my happiness and probably my wealth, my status in society and that’s what had made him bitter. But seeing the expression on his face I knew that Dilip would not harm me, for he was indeed truly in love with me. “I’m sorry, Dilip. Forget the past and let’s get on with our surveillance,” I said looking at the ‘target’ couple.
And so we reached the magnificent Brindavan gardens, posing as tourists in the growing crowd of humanity, stalking the couple, surreptitiously taking their photographs as they romantically watched the water, gushing through the sluice gates of Krishnarajasagar dam, forming a rainbow admits the spraying surf.
After sunset we enjoyed the performance at the musical fountain sitting right behind the ‘couple’. Suddenly, the lights went out, everyone stood up and started moving. Trying to adjust our eyes to the enveloping darkness, we desperately tried not to lose track of target couple as they made their way, in the confusion, towards “Lovers’ Park.”
It was pitch dark. But through the lens of the night vision device I could clearly discern two silhouettes, an eerie blue-green against the infrared background. The images were blurred and tended to merge as the two figures embraced each other, but that did not matter since I knew that the infrared camera would process the signal through an image intensifier before recording, rendering crystal-clear photo quality pictures.
“Let’s go,” Dilip whispered, and we stealthily negotiated our way out, but in hindsight, there was really no need to be clandestine about it, since we were just another couple ostensibly having a “good time” in the darkness and dense foliage of “Lovers’ Park” as it was known.
Pondering over the day’s events I realized how right Dilip had been taking me along. Surveillance involves hours of shadowing and stalking training and tracking your target, sitting for hours in all sports of places like hotels, restaurants, parks, cars, hanging around airports, railway stations, bus stands or even on the streets, waiting and watching. A man and a woman would appear for less conspicuous than a single man or a pair of men. And if they look like a married couple it’s even better for the cover. And we did look like a much-married tourist couple.
I wondered why I’d agreed to do all this. Maybe because I felt a sense of guilt, remorse, a sort of an obligation I owed Dilip. Any girl always has a feeling of debt, a guilt-complex, towards a decent man who she has ditched, brutally dumped. Or maybe because I wanted to find out what life would have been like had I married Dilip. Or maybe because I was scared and fearful that Dilip would blackmail me. Dilip was the only secret I had kept from my husband – a skeleton I wanted to keep firmly locked away in the cupboard. Or maybe it was because a woman’s first love always has an enduring place in her heart. I guess it was a combination of all the above reasons.
The tourist bus reached my hotel at precisely 9.30 p.m. Before getting down from the bus, Dilip handed over the bag containing the infrared device, special cameras and all paraphernalia to a non-descript middle-aged man sitting right behind us.
“Who was that man?” I asked after the bus drove away with the man  sitting in it.
“Never mind,” Dilip said leading me into the foyer of the hotel.
“No,” I insisted. “I want to know.”
“It is sometimes important for an operative conducting surveillance to put himself, his own self, under observation,” Dilip said nonchalantly.
At first the sentence sounded innocuous, but gradually comprehension began to dawn on me, and as I realized the import of those words I experienced a chill of panic. All sorts of thoughts entered my brain. Photographs of Dilip and me. Oh my God! The man may even have bugged our conversation. The possibilities were endless. I looked at Dilip. Didn’t he have any scruples? My impulse was to run to my room and lock myself up. But when Dilip invited me to have dinner with him in the restaurant I knew I dared not refuse. I had no choice. Dilip now had me at his mercy. He had his manacles on me. The only way to escape Dilip’s clutches was to tell Girish everything. But could I? Especially after today! I couldn’t even bring myself to imagine the consequences.
After dinner I invited Dilip to my room for a cup of coffee. I knew it was suicidal but I had decided to give Dilip what he wanted and get rid of him, out of my life, forever.
The moment we entered the room, the phone rang. It was for Dilip- a man’s voice – probably the same man sitting behind us in the bus.
Dilip took the receiver from my hands and spoke, “I told you not to ring up here……… What…? But how is that possible?……… Oh, my God! I am coming at once.”
“What happened?” I asked him.
“We got the wrong couple on the infrared camera in Lovers’ Park. Couldn’t you see properly?”
“No, it was dark and hazy,” I said. “I could see just blurred images.”
Instinctively I rushed along with Dilip to his office-cum-laboratory. He emphatically told me not to come, but I did not listen, a strange inner force propelling me.
I looked at the blurred images on the large workstation monitor. Then as Dilip kept zooming, again and again, enhancing the magnification and focus, the images started becoming clear, and as I watched something started happening inside me and I could sense my heartbeats rise.
Oh, My God! I couldn’t believe it! It was Nalini and Girish. Or Girish and Nalini. Whichever way you like it. It doesn’t matter. Or does it? Nalini, my darling elder sister – the very person instrumental in arranging my marriage to Girish. And Girish – my beloved ‘faithful’ husband. Their expressions so confident, so happy, so carefree. So lovey-dovey. So sure they would never be found out. So convenient. How long was this going on? Living a lie. Deep down I felt terribly betrayed. I felt as if I had been pole-axed, a sharp sensation drilling into my vitals, my stomach curdling as I threw up my dinner.
It was extraordinary how clear my mind became all of a sudden. “Listen, Dilip,” I said emphatically, “I want a full-scale comprehensive surveillance. Two-way mirrors, bugs, photos, video, audio – the entire works. A no-holds barred investigation. And dig deep into the past. I want to know everything.”
“No, Vibha !” Dilip said. “I can’t do it.”
“You can’t do it or you won’t do it?” I asserted. “Listen, Dilip. You have to do it. I want you to do it.”
“Why, Vibha. Why?”
I smiled and said, “Dilip, remember what you said in the afternoon about your professional credo and motto: You never ask the question ‘why’. You just state your fee.”

I paused, and said, “So my dear Dilip. Don’t ask any questions. Just state your fee. And do a good job!”

“But, Vibha. What will you do with all this information?” Dilip protested.

“The possibilities are endless,” I said, almost licking my lips in anticipation, as I could feel the venom rising within me. “Yes indeed! Information is power, isn’t it? Once I have all the information, just imagine what all I can do. The possibilities are endless – aren’t they?”

“Yes,” he echoed, “The possibilities are endless.”

“Now,” I said, intertwining my arm in his, “Let’s go to Lovers’ Park!”

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
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.
VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU and The Lawrence School Lovedale, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. 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. His delicious foodie blogs have been compiled in a book “Appetite for a Stroll”. Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm
Academic Journal Vikram Karve – http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile of Vikram Karve – http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

TIME INCLINATION OPPORTUNITY Detective Fiction

August 1, 2010

TIME INCLINATION OPPORTUNITY Detective Fiction.

DISCOVERING FREEDOM – short fiction – a romance

June 18, 2010

DISCOVERING FREEDOM

Fiction Short Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE

From my archives: Here is one of my lazy Mumbai stories…

Anonymity. That’s what I like about Mumbai. As I lose myself in the sea of humanity leaving Churchgate station in the morning rush hour, I experience a refreshing sense of solitude. I notice that I am walking fast, in step with the crowd, as if propelled by the collective momentum. I experience the tremendous advantages of obscurity as I lose myself in the huge enveloping deluge of people. That’s freedom – the power of anonymity.

But I am in no hurry. I have no office, no destination to reach. I had come here to spend some time with myself. Where no one would be watching me. And I can do as I please. That’s freedom – to be able to do what I want to do.

I stand outside the subway at Churchgate. Should I turn right, walk past Asiatic, Gaylord, and Rustoms towards Marine Drive on the Arabian Sea? Or go straight ahead, past Eros, to Nariman Point? Or walk to my left, between the Oval and Cross Maidan, towards Hutatma Chowk? I feel good. On top of the world. I am free to go wherever I please. That’s freedom!

The essence of travel is to have no destination. A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going to reach before he starts his journey. One decides on the spot. Instinctively. Intuitively. Impulsively. Spontaneously. That’s freedom! To be able to do as one likes. To go where one wants. Yes. That’s real and true freedom!

I choose the third option, leisurely walk on the pavement, looking at the boys playing cricket on the Oval to my right. The pavement booksellers near the Central Telegraph Office are gone. I cross the road and stand near the Fountain. Might as well ring up my husband. Not that he would bother. He’s not bothered, neither am I – it is mutual. Indifference. Yes, Indifference – that is the essence of our relationship – marital indifference – mutual indifference. That’s not freedom – indifference is not freedom.

But the mask of caring and sharing, the facade of conjugal conviviality has to be carefully maintained. At least for the sake of the outside world. That’s  what matters. To him, at least. And maybe for me too; at least till now.

I search for a public telephone. I am not carrying my cell-phone. I did not forget to carry my mobile phone. I purposely did not bring my it with me. That’s freedom! Unshackling myself from the manacles of my cell-phone.

I find a phone, insert a coin and dial his office number.

“I shall be late today,” I say.

“Okay,” he replies trying to suppress his irritation. But I can sense his annoyance a hundred miles away. Transmitted through the telephonic waves. He doesn’t like to be disturbed at office. Especially by me. For he is always too busy with his affairs. I wonder who his latest conquest is. Last time it was that petite girl at his office. Who looked so innocent, so pristine, so pure. An improbable paramour for a man of fifty. That’s why probably she made such a good one for so many months. There were many before. Many will be there in future.

Deep down I feel betrayed. It is terrible to love and not be loved in return. I don’t know what to do. I feel a sense of futility and helplessness. That’s not freedom.

What can I do? Walk out of the marriage. And do what? Perhaps I can have also had an affair. Tit for tat. I have the looks, but lack the guts. That is the reason why I have no choice but to continue this futile and meaningless relationship. That’s not freedom. That’s cowardice, what they also call compromise.

Everyone looks at us with envy and admiration. The successful husband. The charming wife. The ideal couple. ‘Made for each other’. And from time to time I hear myself tell everyone my biggest lie, “I’m so lucky. It’s been a lovely marriage. My life has been such a marvellous success.” Mendacity, hypocrisy, pretence – that’s not freedom.

I window-shop on MG Road opposite the university till I reach Kalaghoda. There’s a sale almost everywhere. Have a glass of refreshing cold sugarcane juice on the roadside stall. Browse at the Magna Book Store. Hear the latest music at Rhythm House. See the latest paintings at Jehangir Art Gallery. You can see, feel, browse, and hear whatever you want but need not buy – that’s freedom.

I decide to have lunch. Stuffed Parathas at Café Samovar. Heavenly rich tasty stuff with an abundance of calories and cholesterol. To hell with self-imposed killjoy restrictions. That’s freedom!

I sit alone in the long rectangular restaurant which reminds me of the dining cars on trains of yesteryears. I eat alone. I eat unhurriedly and consciously. It is sacrilege to eat delectable food hastily.

Nobody stares at me as I eat slowly and mindfully, relishing the piping hot stuffed parathas to the fullest, dipping them liberally in the spicy chutneys with my fingers. I indulge till I am satiated. Follow up with ice cream. A delightful delicious meal enjoyed alone. Epicurean pleasure of the highest order. That’s freedom!

Once again I realize the benefits of anonymity. Nobody knows me. Nobody’s bothered about me. The arty restaurant is full – with artists, art-lovers, office-goers, society ladies. All busy in their own world. The creative types – preoccupied with their own thoughts. No one gives a damn. This is Mumbai. Not our company township, and in it the exclusive residential campus near Pune, where my husband is the undisputed boss – the feudal lord, the ‘King’ – and I the ‘Queen’, pampered with all the comforts, fawned and flattered, by plenty of sycophants masquerading as friends, secretly envied by all, but trapped in a golden cage. That’s pseudo-freedom!

My daughter must have returned from college. She is independent. On her own trip. Having been given all the material comforts she desires. With every passing year the distance between us keeps on increasing. I telephone from the phone outside the restaurant.

“I’ll be late,” I tell my daughter.

“So shall I,” she replies. “I am going out with my friends.”

Brevity in communication. The hallmark of our family.

I spend the next few hours doing what I always liked. Aimless loafing on Colaba Causeway, a brief visit to the Museum, gazing at the ships across the Gateway of India, a movie at Regal, a walk across the Oval, invigorating Irani Style Tea at the Stadium restaurant, sitting on the parapet at Marine Drive and watching the sun being swallowed up by the sea. I lose myself in my pleasure trip, in a state of timelessness. This is freedom – not the artificial sterile synthetic life I am living.

The sky is overcast and it starts to drizzle. I walk leisurely on A-Road enjoying the weather. Mumbai is at its best in the monsoon season. I stop before my house. My old house. My parents’ house. The house of my childhood. The house where I grew up. The house my parents had to sell for my dowry. In the hope that I would enjoy a better life. And yes, they were so happy – for my parents, my marriage was a social triumph.

I feel a sense of nostalgia. I reminisce. There is no greater pain than to remember happier times when one is despondent, depressed and dejected with life. But it is also true that when one’s intractable desires are thwarted by reality, there is a tendency to hark back to happy memories. It is indeed at vicious circle. In which I felt trapped at that moment. So I turn away from my house of the past and walk into the present, back towards Marine Drive.

The sea is rough. It is windy. I can smell the rain in the distance. I look at my watch. Almost 7 PM. More than ten hours since I left my house in Pune. I am enjoying the change of routine. A break. After a long long time. Most of us have a preference for some kind of routine or rhythm in our day-to-day life. But when the rhythm becomes sinusoidal, the routine overwhelms you. That’s when you got to break it. Like I had done. Today. At precisely 6.30 AM I had left my house. As usual. But today I wasn’t wearing leotards underneath. For I wasn’t going to the health club. I went straight to the Pune railway station and caught the Deccan Queen. To Mumbai.

It’s raining now. I rush towards Churchgate station. As I cross my favourite Chinese restaurant I wonder with whom my husband would be having his “working” dinner. He wouldn’t have missed me. We never eat together now-a-days. Except breakfast on Sundays. When he would bury himself behind the newspaper nursing a hangover. On other days he would be off to office by the time I returned form the health club. And I would busy myself with my daily routine. Everything runs like clockwork. Everyone takes me for granted. There are no problems. That is the real problem. Oh yes! My problem is that I do not have any problems! Or do I? You tell me.

I catch a Volvo bus from Dadar and reach home late at night. It’s almost 11. There is no one at home. The servants ask me if I want anything and then go off to sleep.

I wake up late in the morning. My husband gives me a beautiful diamond necklace. A gift for his darling wife.  As always – a gift to compensate his guilty conscience for his misdemeanours – the bigger the misdemeanour, the larger the guilt, and the more expensive the gift. That’s not love, that’s not freedom.

We sit at the breakfast table. No one asks me where I was yesterday. Maybe I have become redundant. Or have I?

“Be ready at 12. I’ll send the car. We’ve got to go for that business lunch at the Golf Club,” my husband snaps peremptorily.

Oh yes. I’ll go along. As Arm Candy“.

“And, Mom, after that you’ve got to come with me to the jeweller,” my daughter commands. That’s all I am worth these days, isn’t it? I just have ornamental value. Soon I won’t have even that.

The moment they go away I break into a laugh. To hell with them! From now on I am going to be free! Do exactly as I want. Go wherever I wish. Do whatever I please.

Yesterday it was Mumbai. Today, where should I go – Lonavala? No, it’s too boring. Mumbai? – Not again! Bangalore ? – I’ve been there many times. Delhi? – Maybe! Why not head for the hills – Ooty, Mussoorie, Darjeeling, Shimla, Nainital, Mahableshwar? The possibilities are endless!

Hey! Why should I tell you? I’m free to do as I please. I’m off on my own trip.

That’s freedom…I’ve discovered my freedom…!

DISCOVERING FREEDOM

Fiction Short Story

by

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010

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

vikramkarve@sify.com

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