Posts Tagged ‘magazine’

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

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Vengeance – Short Fiction – A Chilling Romance

December 8, 2009

VENGEANCE

Fiction Short Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE

I waited in anticipation, scared stiff, overcome by tremors of trepidation, secretly hoping he would not come.

But he did come. Right on the dot. Sharp ten o’clock at night. As planned.

He said nothing when he entered.

But the moment I recognized him I started to tremble.

He didn’t seem to notice. He turned around, as if he had forgotten something, took two quick steps and bolted the door.

Hoping to conceal my emotion, I began to speak in order to gain my composure: “Please be seated, sir,” I said. “Would you like a drink?”

“Whisky and soda,” he said, loosening the knot of his tie, as he moved towards the sofa. He sat down and gave me an appraising look.

I took my time getting up from my chair, taking care to make my movements deliberately slow, in order to hide my fear and nervousness.

I walked towards the fridge, my back turned in his direction, but still I could feel his eyes piercing me.

Soda, glass, opener, ice-bucket and a bowl of peanuts ready on a tray, I opened the liquor-cabinet. At first my hands instinctively touched a bottle of cheap whisky, but then I hesitatingly picked out a bottle of the best premium whisky. After all this was a first-class client. And maybe his last drink. Let him enjoy it.

I carefully set the loaded tray on the table in front of him and sat down on the chair across. I poured him a stiff drink and opened the bottle of soda.

“Put lots of ice,” he said, in a commanding voice. And then, as an afterthought, he added, “What about you?”

“No,” I said handing him the glass, “I don’t drink on duty.”

“Duty?” he laughed looking me in the eye.

He took a sip of the whisky and closed his eyes with a gesture of fatigue, as if waiting for the whisky to caress his brain. His was not an unpleasant face. In fact he looked quite handsome.

“Without any effort I could go straight to sleep,” he said with his eyes still closed. Then suddenly he opened his eyes, looked directly at me, and with a mischievous smile he said, “But there’s plenty to do tonight, isn’t it?”

“Yes indeed!” I said to myself. “There was plenty to do tonight.” In my mind’s eye, I tried to visualize how I was going to do it.

The man shifted on his seat, took out a wallet from his hip pocket and stylishly extracted ten crisp red thousand-rupee notes and put them on the table in front of me.

I did not pick up the money. “It’s okay,” I said. “It’s on the house.”

“Who said so?” he snapped an angrily.

“The person who sent me here,” I answered.

“What else did he say?”

“That you are a very special guest.”

“And?” he asked.

“He told me that I should be very discreet; shouldn’t even breathe a word to anyone.” I paused, and then said, “It is okay. You can trust me.”

He smiled and said, “Take the money. I always pay for everything. I am a man of principles.”

Suddenly I could feel the venom rising inside me. A man of principles my foot!

Hypocrite. That’s what he was. A bloody hypocrite!

Where were his principles when he had killed my husband and concocted lies that it was a gruesome accident? And then quickly disposed off my husband’s body at sea – consigned into the Davy Jones’s Locker at the bottom of the deep ocean.

Murderer, bloody murderer – that’s what he was – an unscrupulous mendacious murderer.

And tonight he was going to pay for it.

Everything was in my favour.

I had recognized him but he did not know who I really was.

For him I was just a nameless face. A one-night stand. To be used, discarded and forgotten. And though he could not possibly realize it, it was he who had reduced me to this. And now he had unknowingly walked right into my hands.

“Is it enough?” he asked, pointing to the money on the table.

“My normal rate is fifty thousand,” I said. I wanted to embarrass him for I had glimpsed into his wallet when he took out the money. I picked up the ten thousand rupees from the table, tucked them in my blouse, and said, “But for you, it’s okay.”

He smiled, looking intently into my eyes for a few seconds. Then he gulped down his drink, got up form the sofa, came around the table and stood behind me. I sat still, waiting for his next move. He put his hands on my shoulders and said matter-of-factly, “Let’s go to bed.”

When I woke up, for a moment I could not imagine where I was. The silence was so intense that I could hear my heart beating. The room was not quite dark, for the door of the bathroom was partly open, and the light in it had been left on.

As I turned and I saw him lying beside me, I felt a sudden flush of passion. It was after a long time that I had really enjoyed it. But I quickly controlled my feelings and carefully observed the sleeping man.

He breathed steadily, like a man immersed in deep sleep, fully satiated. But I had to be sure.

“Hello,” I whispered near his ear.

No answer. He was dead to the world.

Very slowly, very silently, I slipped out of my bed. I slowly bent down near the bedside table, unplugged the two-pin electric plug from the socket on the wall and carefully coiled the wires around the base of the table-lamp.

I picked up the table-lamp in both hands holding the plug carefully, and stood for a while, looking at the man to see whether I had disturbed him.

His breathing was as regular as before. I took a couple of tip-toe steps and halted, took a few steps more and waited, and so on, until I reached the bathroom door. Then I quickly went inside and locked the door.

I yanked out the wires form the table-lamp, and with my teeth, removed the plastic cladding from the open ends exposing at least two inches of naked copper on both the wires.

I smiled to myself. In my hands was a weapon of death. A set of coiled wires, one red and one black, long enough, a two-pin plug at one end and the other end exposed, naked.

I retraced my steps, tiptoed, leaving the bathroom light on and the door a bit ajar, so that I could just about see slightly. I put the plug in the socket. Then I uncoiled the wires, carefully holding one wire in each hand, a few inches away from the naked exposed copper, my hands apart.

I switched on the electric switch with my left toe, got on the bed and slowly advanced on my knees towards the sleeping figure. The man was lying on his back, sleeping soundly, dead to the world.

I decided to aim for his eyes. Simply thrust one live wire into each eye. Hopefully death would be instantaneous, the electric current flowing though his brain; even if it wasn’t, at least he’d be unconscious and then I could take my time.

The live wires had almost touched his eyes when some invisible force seemed to have grabbed my wrists.

I froze.

And suddenly felt a turbulence of conscience.

“I don’t want to be a murderess. What do I gain? And then what’s the difference between him and me? What about his family? Why should I make them suffer for no fault of theirs? And maybe what he said was indeed true; that it was just an accident, like he had reported,” said one part of my brain, pulling my hands back.

“Revenge! Vengeance! He deserves it,” desperately urged the other part of my brain, pushing my hands forward, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Do it now. Fast!” – And slowly my hands started moving forward.

Suddenly the man moved, started turning.

I panicked, and in a reflex action I instantly pulled my hands back.

In the confusion, the naked wires touched; there were sparks and then total darkness.

Short Circuit – the fuse had blown.

My blood ran cold. There was no movement from the man. Instinctively I guessed that the man had turned over on his side, his back towards me.

I tiptoed to the bathroom, retrieved the table-lamp, kept it on the bedside table and tucked the wires underneath.

Then I lay down on my bed as if nothing had happened.

The centralized air-conditioning was still on; but the bathroom light had gone off.

Probably only one fuse, the light fuse had blown, but I didn’t know where it was.

I had muffed up a golden chance.

The man was lucky to be alive.

Sheer luck!

But I knew I would try again.

Again and again.

Again and again.

I would not rest till I finished him off, had my vengeance, for he did not deserve to live.

And with these thoughts I drifted off to sleep.

When I woke up in the morning, I saw that the man was still fast asleep. The dawn had broken.

I opened the window and let the sunlight in.

“Who’s that?” he asked, startled, adjusting his eyes to the sunlight.

“You must go to your room now,” I said, “someone may notice.”

I walked towards the sofa, picked up his clothes and threw them to him.

He dressed hurriedly and quickly walked to the connecting door between our rooms. He opened the door, paused for a moment, and turning towards me he said, “Good Bye, Mrs. Morris. They told me that you want to kill me. I came to find out. But killing isn’t easy. You can take my word for it.”

With these words he left my room, silently closing the door.

I sat in dumbstruck silence, a deathly grotesque deafening silence.

I never saw him again. I never want to. For I have never felt so scared, so frightened, so petrified as I felt at that moment – and whenever I think of that chilling terrifying night, a tremor goes up my spine, a shiver perambulates throughout my whole body, and I resonate with fear.

VENGEANCE

Fiction Short Story

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.

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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

Appetite for a Stroll

vikramkarve@sify.com

SPDP Sev Potato Dahi Puri

October 11, 2009

SEV POTATO DAHI PURI


Short Fiction – A Tasty Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE

Pune. Fergusson College Road. Vaishali Restaurant. 5 PM on a Sunday evening.

Crowded. Crammed full. Jam-packed. All tables occupied chock-a-block. Aisles teeming with people waiting with watchful eyes for signs of someone finishing their refreshments.

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

I walk towards her and give her a smile.

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

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

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

“Two?” the waiter asks.

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

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

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

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

“Ravi told you all this?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’ve met before…”

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

“You mean…”

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

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

“Here, you eat,” she says pushing her untouched plate of Kachori and katori of whipped curds towards me, “I am all full – I ate an Uttapam, Idli-Vada Sambar, god-knows-what, waiting for you to come…”

She leans forward and casually picks up a Sev Potato Dahi Puri from my plate, pops into her mouth and says, “Wow. I love the chatpata flavour of SPDP – you call it Umami taste or something – that’s what you told Ravi, isn’t it?”

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

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

“Show me something?”

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

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

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

I look at her clueless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

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

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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

Appetite for a Stroll

vikramkarve@sify.com

MAKING LOVE TO A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN ON A SUNDAY MORNING

September 19, 2009

MAKING LOVE TO A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN ON A SUNDAY MORNING

[Short Fiction – A Love Story]

By

VIKRAM KARVE

I love making love on a Sunday morning.

I make love to a beautiful woman on Sunday morning – yes, I make love to her with my eyes.

Here is how we make love.

Tell me, what does a beautiful woman do when a handsome young man looks at her in an insistent, lingering sort of way, which is worth a hundred compliments?

I’ll tell you what she does.

First, she realizes I am looking at her, then she accepts being looked at and finally she begins to look at me in return.

Suddenly her eyes become hard and she grills me with a stern stare that makes me uncomfortable.

Scared and discomfited, I quickly avert my eyes and try to disappear into the crowd. I feel ashamed of having eyed her so blatantly. ‘What will she think of me?’ I wonder.

But soon, by instinct and almost against my will, my eyes begin searching, trying to find her again.

Ah, there she is. She stands at the fruit-stall, buying fruit.

She is an exquisite beauty – tall, fair and freshly bathed, her luxuriant black hair flows down her back, her sharp features accentuated by the morning sun, her nose slightly turned up, so slender and transparent, as though accustomed to smelling nothing but perfumes.

I am mesmerized.

Never before has anyone evoked such a delightful electric tremor of thrilling sensation in me.

An unknown force propels me towards the fruit-stall.

I stand near her and made pretence of choosing a papaya, trying to look at her with sidelong glances when I think she isn’t noticing.

She notices.

She looks at me.

Her eyes are extremely beautiful – enormous, dark, expressive.

Suddenly her eyes began to dance, and seeing the genuine admiration in my eyes, she gives me smile so captivating that I experience a delightful twinge in my heart.

She selects a papaya and extends her hands to give it to me.

Our fingers touch.

The feeling is electric. It is sheer ecstasy. I feel so good that I wish time would stand still.

I can’t begin to describe the sensation I feel deep within me.

I try to smile.

She communicates an unspoken good-bye with her eyes and briskly walks away.

Three months have passed. She has never misses her Sunday morning love date with me, same time, same place, every Sunday – at precisely Seven o’clock in the morning.

But, my dear Reader, do you know that not a word has been exchanged between us.

We just make love every Sunday morning using the language of our eyes and part with an unspoken good-bye.

Once I was slightly late for our rendezvous.

I could see her eyes desperately searching for me.

And when her eyes found me, her eyes danced with delight, and began making love to my eyes.

Tell me, is there any love making that can surpass our fascinating alluring love making?

It feels like the supreme bliss of non-alcoholic intoxication.

Should I speak to her?

I do not know.

Why doesn’t she speak to me?

I do not know.

Does one have to speak to express love? Are words from the mouth the only way to communicate love?

Maybe we both want our beautiful romance to remain this way.

Our silent love making with our eyes – so lovely, so esoteric, so exquisite, so pristine, so divine, so fragile, so delicate, so sensitive, so delicately poised.

Just one word would spoil everything, destroy our enthralling state of trancelike bliss, and bring everything crashing down from supreme ecstasy to harsh ground reality.

I think it’s best to let our exquisite Sunday morning love making go on for ever and ever, till eternity.

What do you feel, Dear Reader?

How long should we go making love like this?

Tell me, should I make a move, talk to her, break the spell?

I’ll do exactly as you say.

Till then, I will make love to the beautiful woman every Sunday morning – yes, I’ll make love to her with my eyes.

MAKING LOVE TO A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN ON A SUNDAY MORNING

[Short Fiction – A Love Story]

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.

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com


vikramkarve@sify.com

A DIVORCE STORY – MAN WOMAN and CHILD

September 14, 2009

MAN WOMAN and CHILD
[Fiction Short Story]

by

VIKRAM KARVE

“She can take the flat, but I want custody of my son,” the man says emphatically to the marriage counselor in the family court.

“No way,” shouts the woman, “he can keep his flat, his money, everything. I don’t want anything from him. I just want my son.”

The marriage counselor looks at the eight-year-old boy and asks him lovingly, “Dear boy, tell me, what do you want?”

“I want both of them,” the boy says.

“Both of them?” the counselor asks looking a bit puzzled.

“Yes,” the boy says emphatically, “I want both my mummy and my daddy.”

“I think you both should give it a last try, at least for your child’s sake,” the counselor says to the man and the woman.

“No. I’ve had enough. It’s over. We can’t stay with this man!” the woman says.

“We?” the man asks incredulously, “What do you mean ‘we’…Well you are most welcome to go wherever you want, but my son is staying with me. I am his father!”

“And I am his mother!” the woman pleads anxiously to the man, “Listen, I don’t want anything from you – maintenance, alimony, nothing! Just give me my son. I can’t live without him!”

“He’s my son too. I love him and I can’t live without him too!” the man says.

“See,” the counselor appeals to the man and the woman, “You both love your son so much. I still think you should try to reconcile.”

“No. I want out,” the woman says.

“Me too!” the man says.

“Okay, let’s go in,” the counselor says, shrugging her shoulders, “Since you two have agreed on everything else, the judge will probably ask you the same things I asked you, he will talk to the child, and then, considering the child’s age, let him stay with his mother and grant the father visiting rights.”

“This whole system is biased in favor of women! I can look after my son much better than her,” the man says angrily.

“My foot!” the woman says, “You’ll ruin his life. It is better he remains away from your influence!”

“Please don’t fight inside,” the counselor advises, “You want an amicable mutual consent separation, isn’t it?”

And so, the man and the woman separate, a step towards the death of their relationship.

Since their son is a small boy he goes with his mother.

After the six month long separation period is over, the man and woman assemble in the family court for their divorce.

“I want to tell you something,” the woman says to the man.

“What?” the man asks.

“Well I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’ve been seeing someone.”

“And you want to get married to him?”

“Yes.”

“That’s great. Go ahead. Good Luck to you!” the man says, “and who is the lucky guy?”

“Oh yes, he is indeed a lucky guy – He’s a childhood friend. Now he lives in the States and is here on a vacation.”

“So you’re off to the States?”

“Yes. Once all this divorce business is through.”

“Good for you.”

“It’s about our son…” the woman says awkwardly.

“What?” the man asks suspiciously.

“I want to leave him with you. As a gesture of goodwill, let’s say as a parting gift.”

“Goodwill? Parting Gift?” the man asks dumbfounded.

“We thought we should begin life afresh, without the baggage of the past.”

“You call our son the baggage of the past? How dare you? He is your son!” the man says angrily.

“And he is your son too!” the woman says, “He needs a father, especially now.”

“You’ve told the boy?”

“No,” the woman answers.

The man says nothing.

There is silence.

And then the man hesitantly says to the woman, “A friend of mine has just moved in with me. Actually she’s more than a friend. She’s going to live in with me for some time, to get to know each other better, and then we’ll decide. I don’t think it’s the right time for the boy to stay with me. I think you better keep our son with you – as goodwill, a parting gift, from me!”

Strange are the ways of life.

First the parents fought bitterly for his custody and now no one, not his mother nor his father, wants to keep him any longer.

And so the man and the woman each find their new life-partners and live “happily ever after” and their darling son is packed off to boarding school.

Sad, isn’t it, when children become hapless innocent victims of broken marriages.

MAN WOMAN and CHILD

[Fiction Short Story]

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.

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

vikramkarve@sify.com

A Flirty Date at Churchgate

September 3, 2009

A FLIRTY DATE AT CHURCHGATE


[Fiction Short Story – A Romance]

By

VIKRAM KARVE

What do you do if a man looks at you with frank admiration in his eyes – in an insistent suggestive sort of way that is worth a thousand compliments?

Nothing! You do absolutely nothing.

You do nothing because you are a thoroughly bored “happily” married thirty year old housewife sitting comfortably in your favourite rocking chair, browsing through Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care, at the Oxford Bookstore at Churchgate in Mumbai.

So you just look down, act as if you have not noticed his flirting, and try to concentrate on reading the book in your hands.

But you cannot read – the words just don’t focus in front of you. You think of the man, his lingering look, his eyes curiously languid, yet inviting – it’s the first time someone looked at you in such a flattering way for a long long time.

You feel a tinge of excitement.

Maybe something is going to happen. Something exciting – dangerously exciting. At long last.

Something that you secretly want to happen, but never ever happens.

Or maybe it’s just your imagination playing tricks.

So just to check up. Once. Only once.

You quickly look up – a fleeting glance.

He is still looking at you – not furtively, but brazenly, almost unashamedly, with waves of yearning flowing out of his eyes. He looks a decisive, hot-blooded and masculine man with his smart beard and piercing eyes.

You feel a flush inside. A shiver. A tremor. A tremor of trepidation – mixed with excitement. You cannot define how you feel – but it feels good. He looks at you. You look back at him in return. He begins to smile. You quickly look down and bury yourself into the pages in front of you and pretend to read.

But it’s no use. You can sense his unseen eyes locked onto you, burning into you, travelling all over your body and lingering exactly where they shouldn’t – just like a laser beam.

And now, he knows that you know.

What do you do? Best is not to react – just accept the fact of being looked at – ignore him. Keep on pretending to read.

Oh no! That may be dangerous. He may get ideas. You never know these types. He may think you are game. But are you? Or aren’t you?

Why not play on – have some fun. Flirt a bit. See what happens.

Why not have a little excitement to liven up your boring life a bit.

So you take a deep breath, brace yourself and start a dangerous game.

You look up from your book, pan your gaze slowly across the bookstore, looking at everything – the shelves of books, the people, the cha-bar, the sales counter – and finally, like a dog that has circled its bowl of food long enough, you look directly at him.

Eyes meet. His and yours. Yours and his. His appraising eyes look into yours. And then his eyes travel down and look at the book in your hands.

You spontaneously follow his gaze, and look down at the book in your hands – Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care – most inappropriate for what you have in mind. You quickly put it away into the rack, run your eyes across the shelf and pick up ‘The Art of Seduction’.

You turn the pages – nothing registers – so you look up at him almost seeking approbation.

He smiles – a wry canny smile – as if he knows something you don’t. And suddenly he gets up from the chair, keeps the magazine he is holding back in the rack and begins walking towards you.

Your heart stops – you want to disappear, but he is already standing in front of you.

“Good morning Anita,” he says. “I’m Sen. Dilip Sen.”

Anita? You are not Anita. Seems to be a case of mistaken identity – but you are curious, and in a playful mood, so you say, “Oh, Hello Mr. Sen. You are late.”

“Late? No,” he says looking at his watch, a confused look on his face. “The RV is correct – as planned.”

“RV?”

“Rendezvous.”

Now you are really curious. “Why don’t you pull that stool and sit,” you say.

“Not here. Let’s go to the cha-bar. We can talk in peace there,” he says.

“Okay,” You replace the book in its place in the shelf, get up and walk towards the cha-bar.

The cha-bar – the tea lounge – it’s the best thing about Oxford Bookstore. An ideal place to relax, browse, or have a quiet flirtatious chat over a cup of exquisite tea.

As you sip, savouring the fragrance and relishing the rich flavour of premium Darjeeling Tea, you feel a shiver of anticipation. It’s your first time. You wonder what’s going to happen next.

“Well done. Let’s recap,” he says pulling out a pocket diary.

Well done? Recap? You wonder what this is all about. The man seems to be crazy. But you keep your wits about, and to calm down you say to yourself, “Relax. Just keep quiet and go along.”

And to Mr. Sen, you say confidently, “Okay. Sure. Let’s recap.”

Step 1,” he says looking into the diary in front of him, “you and I independently arrive at the previously agreed upon rendezvous. Your choice is excellent – this bookstore – easy to wait, observe and not be noticed. We just blended in. Much better cover than a railway station, park or restaurant. And the book you chose – Baby and Child Care – easily discernible – so aptly chosen. Perfect for your cover. Looked so natural in your hands.”

“Do I look pregnant?” you snap at him.

“No. No. I am sorry. I didn’t mean it that way,” he says, taken aback, “You look lovely. But the book – it suited your cover – as a bored housewife.”

Cover? What’s he talking?

A bored housewife!

That’s what you are, aren’t you?

Husband busy working, kids at school, and you – bored to death with nothing to do.

“I’m not bored,” you tease him with your eyes. Flatter him by looking steadily at him without letting your eyes stray.

Step 2 – making eye contact. We could be a bit more discreet next time, isn’t it?” he says smiling into your eyes.

Discreet? Next time? What’s going on? Who’s this guy?

Step 3 – the signal. Change of book. Okay. But ‘The Art of Seduction’?” he looks perplexed, “try something more sober – in line with your cover…..”

He goes on and on but you aren’t listening. You just look at him. He is a man who looks like a man. Solid, strong, decisive but vulnerable.

You fantasize.

Your imagination begins to run wild.

You feel his touch – he has put his hand in your arm. His touch is electric.

A shiver of anticipation rises within you.

Suddenly he is shaking you.

You snap back to reality.

“Okay Anita. Let’s get on with the tradecraft,” he says, in an almost imperative tone.

“Tradecraft?”

“Yes. And make sure you don’t grow a tail.”

“Tail? “

“Yes,” he says, “Be careful. Maybe you’ve already grown a tail – check it out and shake it off.”

“Grown a tail?” unknowingly you move your hand over your behind to check and instinctively shake your bottom.

“Not there!” he reprimands, in a voice a teacher uses to scold a careless student.

“Have you forgotten everything – counter surveillance protocol?”

“Counter surveillance protocol?” you ask credulous.

“Come on Anita. Snap out of it. Be alert. They told me you were a seasoned detective. Now get on with your mission.”

Detective? Mission? What’s he talking about?

Oh my God! Fear starts rising within you. It’s getting dangerous. This is for real – no longer fun. It’s time to run.

“Excuse me,” you say, quickly get up and start walking towards the exit. You sense he is following you. So the moment you get out of the bookstore, you deliberately avoid going to your car but walk in the opposite direction towards the Oval.

The Clock on Rajabai Tower is striking twelve – it is twelve noon.

You look back over your shoulder. Dilip Sen is following you.

You break into a run, still looking back, and suddenly bang into someone.

Oh, My God! It’s Nalini – your gossipy neighbour.

“What happened?” Nalini asks, steadying you up.

“Nothing,” you say.

“Hey. Why did you abort?” Dilip Sen asks, catching up with you, his hand clutching your arm.

“Abort?” exclaims Nalini, her eyebrows arched, a mischievous glint in her eyes.

You look at Nalini. Then at Dilip Sen. And then at Nalini again.

Nalini’s roving eyes travel all over you, look meaningfully at Dilip Sen, for that significant moment her eyes focus on his hand holding yours, taking in everything, till her gaze settles down pointedly looking at where it shouldn’t.

Everything seems frozen in silence – a terrible silence, a deafening silence, a grotesque silence.

You look at Nalini, her changing expression.

Nalini looks at you with envious awe. And you see something mischievously wicked in her large radiating eyes.

You know you are sunk.

Yes, you are truly sunk. Lock, Stock and Barrel. Up the Gum Tree, as they say.

You break out into laughter.

That’s the only sane thing left to do.

Life isn’t going to be boring any longer after this flirty date at Churchgate.

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

MARRIAGE DIVORCE MARRIAGE

July 14, 2009

Dating Mating Hating Resuscitating

Short Fiction – A Love Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE


The much delayed monsoon has finally arrived in Pune. It’s been raining incessantly all morning.

Ideally, at 10 o’clock in the morning on a working day, I should have been safely ensconced in my office, but today I sit in the driving seat of my car, slowly negotiating my way in the torrential rain, for I have an important appointment to keep.

Suddenly I see Avinash, half drenched, shivering under the bus-stop at Aundh, trying to protect himself from the pouring rain.

He sees me too. Our eyes meet. I don’t know who is more surprised at this unexpected encounter – he or me.

At first instinct, I just feel like ignoring him and driving away.

But then my humanitarian side takes over, so I stop the car near him, lean across, open the door and beckon him to get inside.

He seems hesitant, “Thanks, but I’ll take an auto – I am going to Deccan…”

“Come on Avinash, get in fast or you’ll get wet – you won’t get a rickshaw in this rain – I too am going towards Deccan Gymkhana – I’ll drop you on the way.”

He gets in and for a while we drive in silence.

“It’s been five years,” he says.

“Yes,” I say, “Quite a surprise, seeing you here in Pune…”

“Yes. I just came in from Mumbai by the Volvo bus, got down at Parihar Chowk… and you…what are you doing in Pune?”

“I relocated here six months ago…you still in the States?”

“Yes. But maybe I’ll come back…”

“Recession…?”

“Not really…”

“So you’ve come to look for a job in Pune…?”

“It’s actually something else…a family matter…”

“Family matter…? In Pune…?”

“My wife is from Pune…”

“Wife…? You remarried…?

“Yes…two years ago…”

“And I didn’t even know…!”

“We decided…didn’t we…to move on…go off on our different ways…not look back…”

“Yes…we lost track of each other completely…”

“That was good…isn’t it…for both of us…”

“Yes…”

“And you…? You married again…?”

“Yes…soon after you left for the States after our divorce…”

“On the rebound…?”

“Maybe…” I laugh.

Avinash has not changed…the way he says these devastatingly rude things in such a naïve innocent way.

We are nearing the Pune University circle so I ask, “Where is your wife’s house…? I’ll take the road accordingly…”

“It’s okay…just drop me wherever you can…”

“Come on…tell me…see how much it is raining…you want me to take Senapati Bapat Road…or drive straight ahead…to Fergusson College Road…or Jangli Maharaj Road…?”

“It’s okay…you go wherever you want to go in Deccan…I’ll get off there…”

“Oh…so you don’t want to show me your wife’s house…” I say, tongue in cheek.

“No…No…it’s not that…I am going somewhere else…to the Family Court…”

“To the Family Court…? I ask, taken aback.

“Yes,” he says, “it’s beyond Deccan, past Lakdi Pul…near Alaka…”

“I know where the family court is…” I say, “I hope you are not…”

“Yes…first it was the Family Court in Mumbai with you…and now…” he stops, as tears well up in his eyes.

“I too am going to the Family Court…” I say, sensing a lump in my throat.

“What…?” he looks at me, startled.

“I am divorcing my husband…today is the final hearing…hopefully…”

I slow down, stop the car near the kerb past E-Square. I wipe my eyes with tissue and hold the tissue box towards Avinash. He too wipes his eyes.

“Maybe we should have stayed together, tried to make our marriage work,” I say.

“Yes…it all happened so fast …maybe we were too hasty, too impatient, too headstrong…”

“Yes…we could have tried to make it work…”

“I think we sought the easy way out…we were too young…unrealistic…immature…impetuous…volatile…”

“Yes… ours was a tempestuous stormy relationship…a terrible marriage…but there is one thing…”

“What…?”

“With you I could be myself…no mask, no pretence, no forced geniality…”

“Me too…with you I could truly be myself…no contrived feelings, no holding back…I could never be like that with anyone else…with her too…the way could naturally be with you…you know I think we were made for each other…”

“Maybe we should give it a try…one more time…make things work…”

“You’re serious…?” he asks with a curious look in his eyes.

“Yes, Avinash. Let’s empty our cups and start afresh. Like you said, I too think we are made for each other.”

“Okay, but there is one thing…”

“What…?”

“Is it allowed to marry the same person twice…?

“I think so…I’ll ask my divorce lawyer…she will know…”

“Yes…I’ll confirm at the Family Court too…”

“One more thing…”

“Now what…?”

“This time…No Expectations, No Disappointments, Happy Marriage…”

“Yes,” I say lovingly putting my hand on his: “No Expectations…No Disappointments…Happy Marriage…”

Suddenly I notice that it has stopped raining and the sun is peeping through the clouds.

I feel good. I start the car and we drive on towards the Family Court…to erase the second chapter of our marital lives forever and to begin writing our first inchoate chapter afresh.

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


vikramkarve@sify.com

LPO – THE ART OF OUTSOURCING

July 11, 2009

ART OF OUTSOURCING 

by 

VIKRAM KARVE 


Short Fiction – On of my favourite stories, revisited  

 

One leisurely morning, while I am loafing on Main Street, in Pune, I meet an old friend of mine.   

“Hi!” I say.  

“Hi,” he says, “where to?”   

“Aimless loitering,” I say, “And you?”   

“I’m going to work.”   

“Work? This early? I thought your shift starts in the evening, or late at night. You work at a call center don’t you?”   

“Not now. I quit. I’m on my own now.”   

“On your own? What do you do?”   

“LPO.”   

“LPO? What’s that?”   

“Life Process Outsourcing.”   

“Life Process Outsourcing? Never heard of it!”   

“You’ve heard of Business Process Outsourcing haven’t you?”   

“BPO? Outsourcing non-core business activities and functions?”   

“Precisely. LPO is similar to BPO. There it’s Business Processes that are outsourced, here it’s Life Processes.”   

“Life Processes? Outsourced?”  

“Why don’t you come along with me? I’ll show you.”   

Soon we are in his office. It looks like a mini call center.   

A young attractive girl welcomes us. “Meet Rita, my Manager,” my friend says, and introduces us.   

Rita looks distraught, and says to my friend, “I’m not feeling well. Must be viral fever.”  

“No problem. My friend here will stand in.”   

“What? I don’t have a clue about all this LPO thing!” I protest.  

“There’s nothing like learning on the job! Rita will show you.”   

“It’s simple,” Rita says, in a hurry. “See the console. You just press the appropriate switch and route the call to the appropriate person or agency.”

And with these words Rita disappears. It’s the shortest induction training I have ever had in my life.   

And so I plunge into the world of Life Process Outsourcing; or LPO as they call it.  

It’s all very simple.

Everyone is busy. Working people don’t seem to have time these days, but they have lots of money; especially those double income couples, IT nerds, MBA hot shots, finance wizards; just about everybody running desperately in the modern rat race.
 
So what do they do? Simple. They ‘outsource’!

‘Non-core Life Activities’, for which you neither have the inclination or the time – you just outsource them; so you can maximize your work-time to rake in the money and make a fast climb up the ladder of success. 

A ring, a flash on the console infront of me and I take my first LPO call.  

“My daughter’s puked in her school. They want someone to pick her up and take her home. I’m busy in a shoot and just can’t leave,” a creative ad agency type with a husky voice says.    

“Why don’t you tell your husband?” I suggest.   

“Are you crazy or something? I’m a single mother.”   

“Sorry ma’am. I didn’t know. My sympathies and condolences.”  

 “Condolences? Who’s this? Is this LPO?”   

“Yes ma’am,” I say, press the button marked ‘children’ and transfer the call, hoping I have made the right choice. Maybe I should have pressed ‘doctor’.  

 Nothing happens for the next few moments. I breathe a sigh of relief.   

A yuppie wants his grandmother to be taken to a movie. I press the ‘movies’ button. ‘Movies’ transfers the call back, “Hey, this is for movie tickets; try ‘escort services’. He wants the old hag escorted to the movies.”   

‘Escort Services’ are in high demand. These guys and girls, slogging in their offices minting money, want escort services for their kith and kin for various non-core family processes like shopping, movies, eating out, sight seeing, marriages, funerals, all types of functions; even going to art galleries, book fairs, exhibitions, zoos, museums or even a walk in the nearby garden.   

A father wants someone to read bedtime stories to his small son while he works late. A busy couple wants proxy stand-in ‘parents’ at the school PTA meeting. An investment banker rings up from Singapore; he wants his mother to be taken to pray in a temple at a certain time on a specific day. 

Someone wants his kids to be taken for a swim, brunch, a play and browsing books and music.   

A sweet-voiced IT project manager wants someone to motivate and pep-talk her husband, who’s been recently sacked, and is cribbing away at home demoralized. He desperately needs someone to talk to, unburden himself, but the wife is busy – she neither has the time nor the inclination to take a few days off to boost the morale of her depressed husband when there are deadlines to be met at work and so much is at stake.   

The things they want outsourced range from the mundane to the bizarre; life processes that one earlier enjoyed and took pride in doing or did as one’s sacred duty are considered ‘non-core life activities’ now-a-days by these highfalutin people.   

At the end of the day I feel illuminated on this novel concept of Life Process Outsourcing, and I am about to leave, when suddenly a call comes in.   

“LPO?” a man asks softly.   

“Yes, this is LPO. May I help you?” I say.   

“I’m speaking from Frankfurt Airport. I really don’t know if I can ask this?” he says nervously.   

“Please go ahead and feel free to ask anything you desire, Sir. We do everything.”   

“Everything?”   

“Yes, Sir. Anything and everything!” I say.   

“I don’t know how to say this. This is the first time I’m asking. You see, I am working 24/7 on an important project for the last few months. I’m globetrotting abroad and can’t make it there. Can you please arrange for someone suitable to take my wife out to the New Year’s Eve Dance?”   

I am taken aback but quickly recover, “Yes, Sir.”   

“Please send someone really good, an excellent dancer, and make sure she enjoys and has a good time. She loves dancing and I just haven’t had the time.”   

“Of course, Sir.”   

“And I told you – I’ve been away abroad for quite some time now and I’ve got to stay out here till I complete the project.”   

“I know. Work takes top priority.”   

“My wife. She’s been lonely. She desperately needs some love. Do you have someone with a loving and caring nature who can give her some love? I just don’t have the time. You understand what I’m saying, don’t you?”   

I let the words sink in. This is one call I am not going to transfer. “Please give me the details, Sir,” I say softly into the mike.  

As I walk towards my destination with a spring in my step, I feel truly enlightened.    

Till this moment, I never knew that ‘love’ was a ‘non-core’ ‘life-process’ worthy of outsourcing.  

Long Live LPO

Life Process Outsourcing


Love Process Outsourcing

Call it what you like, but I’m sure you’ve got the essence of outsourcing. 

 

VIKRAM KARVE 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

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

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com  

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve  

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

LOVEDALE

July 10, 2009

LOVEDALE

[Short Fiction – A Slice of Life Story]

By

VIKRAM KARVE

Lovedale.

A quaint little station on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway that runs from Mettupalayam in the plains up the Blue Mountains on a breathtaking journey to beautiful Ooty, the Queen of Hill Stations.

On Lovedale railway station there is just one small platform – and on it, towards its southern end, there is a solitary bench.

If you sit on this bench you will see in front of you, beyond the railway track, an undulating valley, covered with eucalyptus trees, and in the distance the silhouette of a huge structure, which looks like a castle, with an impressive clock-tower.

In this mighty building is located a famous boarding school – one of the best schools in India. Many such ‘elite’ schools are known more for snob value than academic achievements, but this one is different – it is a prestigious public school famous for its rich heritage and tradition of excellence.

Lovedale, in 1970 – that’s all there is in Lovedale – this famous public school, a small tea-estate called Lovedale (from which this place got its name), a tiny post office and, of course, the lonely railway platform with its solitary bench.

It’s a cold damp depressing winter morning, and since the school is closed for winter, the platform is deserted except for two people – yes, just two persons – a woman and a small girl, shivering in the morning mist, sitting on the solitary bench.

It’s almost 9 o’clock – time for the morning “toy-train” from the plains carrying tourists via Coonoor to Ooty, the “Queen” of hill-stations, just three kilometres ahead – the end of the line. But this morning the train is late, probably because of the dense fog and the drizzle on the mountain-slopes, and it will be empty – for there are hardly any tourists in this cold and damp winter season.

“I’m dying to meet mummy. And this stupid train – it’s always late,” the girl says. She is dressed in school uniform – gray blazer, thick gray woollen skirt, navy-blue stockings, freshly polished black shoes, her hair tied smartly in two small plaits with black ribbons.

The woman, 55 – maybe 60, dressed in a white sari with a thick white shawl draped over her shoulder and a white scarf around her head covering her ears, looks lovingly at the girl, softly takes the girl’s hand in her own, and says, “It will come. Look at the weather. The driver can hardly see in this mist. And it must be raining down there in Ketti valley.”

“I hate this place. It’s so cold and lonely. Everyone has gone home for the winter holidays and we have nowhere to go. Why do we have to spend our holidays here every time?”

“You know we can’t stay with her in the hostel.”

“But her training is over now. And she’s become an executive – that’s what she wrote.”

“Yes. Yes. She is an executive now. After two years of tough training. Very creditable; after all that has happened,” the old woman says.

“She has to take us to Mumbai with her now. We can’t stay here any longer. No more excuses now.”

“Even I don’t want to stay here. It’s cold and I am old. Let your mummy come. This time we’ll tell her to take us all to Mumbai.”

“And we’ll all stay together – like we did before God took Daddy away.”

“Yes. Mummy will go to work. You will go to school. And I will look after the house and all of you. Just like before.”

“Only Daddy won’t be there. Why did God take Daddy away?” the girl says, tears welling up in her eyes.

“Don’t think those sad things. We cannot change what has happened. You must be brave – like your mummy,” says the old lady putting her hand softly around the girl.

The old lady closes her eyes in sadness. There is no greater pain than to remember happier times when in distress.

Meanwhile the toy-train is meandering its way laboriously round the steep u-curve, desperately pushed by a hissing steam engine, as it leaves Wellington station on its way to Ketti.

A man and a woman sit facing each other in the tiny first class compartment. There is no one else.

“You must tell her today,” the man says.

“Yes,” the woman replies softly.

“You should have told her before.”

“Told her before? How? When?”

“You could have written, called her up. I told you so many times.”

“How can I be so cruel?”

“Cruel? What’s so cruel about it?”

“I don’t know how she will react. She loved her father very much.”

“Now she will have to love me. I am her new father now.”

“Yes, I know,” the woman says, tears welling up in her eyes. “I don’t know how to tell her; how she’ll take it. I think we should wait for some time. Baby is very sensitive.”

“Baby! Why do you still call her Baby? She is a grown up girl now. You must call her by her real name. Damayanti – what a nice name – and you call her Baby!”

“It’s her pet name. Deepak always liked to call her Baby.”

“Well I don’t like it! It’s childish, ridiculous!” the man says firmly. “Anyway, all that we can sort out later. But you tell her about us today. Tell both of them.”

“You want me to tell both of them right now? My mother-in-law also? What will she feel? She will be shocked!”

“She’ll understand.”

“Poor thing. She will be all alone.”

“Stop saying ‘poor thing’, poor thing’. She’ll be okay. She’s got her work to keep her busy.”

“She’s old and weak. I don’t think she’ll be able to do that matron’s job much longer.”

“Let her work till she can. At least it will keep her occupied. Then we’ll see.”

“Can’t we take her with us?”

“You know it’s not possible.”

“It’s so sad. She was so good to me. Where will she go? We can’t abandon her just like that!”

“Abandon? Nobody is abandoning her. Don’t worry. If she doesn’t want to stay on here, I’ll arrange something – I know an excellent place near Lonavala. She will be very comfortable there – it’s an ideal place for senior citizens like her.”

“You want to me to put her in an Old-Age Home?”

“Call it what you want but actually it’s quite a luxurious place. She’ll be happy there. I’ve already spoken to them. Let her continue here till she can. Then we’ll shift her there.”

“I can’t be that cruel and heartless to my mother-in-law. She was so loving and good to me, treated me like her own daughter, and looked after Baby, when we were devastated. And now we discard her when she needs us most,” the woman says, and starts sobbing.

“Come on Kavita. Don’t get sentimental,. You have to face the harsh reality. You know we can’t take your mother-in-law with us. Kavita, you must begin a new life now – no point carrying the baggage of your past,” the man realizes he has said something wrong and instantly apologizes, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.”

“You did mean it! That’s why you said it! I hate you, you are so cruel, mean and selfish,” the woman says, turns away from the man and looks out of the window.

They travel in silence, an uneasy disquieting silence.

Suddenly it is dark, as the train enters a tunnel, and as it emerges on the other side, the woman can see the vast lush green Ketti Valley with its undulating mountains in the distance.

“Listen Kavita, I think I’ll also get down with you at Lovedale. I’ll tell them. Explain everything. And get over with it once and for all,” the man says.

“No! No! I don’t even want them to see you. The sudden shock may upset them. I have to do this carefully. Please don’t get down at Lovedale. Go straight to Ooty. I’ll tell them everything and we’ll do as we decided.”

“I was only trying to help you, Kavita. Make things easier for everyone. I want to meet Damayanti. Tell her about us. I’m sure she’ll love me and understand everything.”

“No, please. Let me do this. I don’t want her to see you before I tell her. She’s a very sensitive girl. I don’t know how she’ll react. I’ll have to do it very gently.”

“Okay,” the man says. “Make sure you wind up everything at the school. We have to leave for Mumbai tomorrow. There is so much to be done. We’ve hardly got any time left.”

The steam engine pushing the train huffs and puffs up the slope round the bend under the bridge. “Lovedale station is coming,” the woman says. She gets up and takes out her bag from the shelf.

“Sure you don’t want me to come with you to the school?” asks the man.

“No. Not now. You go ahead to Ooty. I’ll ring you up,” says the woman.

“Okay. But tell them everything. We can’t wait any longer.”

“Just leave everything to me. Don’t make it more difficult.”

They sit in silence, looking out of different windows, waiting for Lovedale railway station to come.

On the solitary bench on the platform at Lovedale station the girl and her grandmother wait patiently for the train which will bring their deliverance.

“I hate it over here in boarding school. I hate the cold scary dormitories. At night I miss mummy tucking me in. And every night I count DLFMTC ?”

“DLFMTC ?”

“Days Left For Mummy To Come! Others count DLTGH – Days Left To Go Home.”

“Next time you too …”

“No. No. I am not going to stay here in boarding school. I don’t know why we came here to this horrible place. I hate boarding school. I miss mummy so much. We could have stayed on in Mumbai with her.”

“Now we will be all staying in Mumbai. Your mummy’s training is over. She can hire a house now. Or get a loan. We will try to buy a good house. I’ve saved some money too.”

The lone station-master of the forlorn Lovedale Railway Station strikes the bell outside his office.

The occupants of the solitary bench look towards their left.

There is no one else on the platform.

And suddenly the train emerges from under the bridge – pushed by the hissing steam engine.

Only one person gets down from the train – a beautiful woman, around 30.

The girl runs into her arms.

The old woman walks towards her with a welcoming smile.

The man, sitting in the train, looks furtively, cautious not to be seen.

A whistle; and the train starts and moves out of Lovedale station towards Fern Hill tunnel on its way to Ooty – the end of the line.

That evening the small girl and her granny sit near the fireplace with the girl’s mother eating dinner and the woman tells them everything.

At noon the next day, four people wait at Lovedale station for the train which comes from Ooty and goes down to the plains – the girl, her mother, her grandmother and the man.

The girl presses close to her grandmother and looks at her new ‘father’ with trepidation. He gives her a smile of forced geniality.

The old woman holds the girl tight to her body and looks at the man with distaste.

The young woman looks with awe, mixed with hope, at her new husband.

They all stand in silence. No one speaks. Time stands still. And suddenly the train enters.

“I don’t want to go,” the girl cries, clinging to her grandmother.

“Don’t you want to stay with your mummy? You hate boarding school don’t you? ” the man says extending his hand.

The girl recoils and says, “No. No. I like it here. I don’t want to come. I like boarding school. I want to stay here.”

“Come Baby, we have to go,” her mother says as tears well up in her eyes.

“What about granny? How will she stay here all alone? No mummy – you also stay here. We all will stay here. Let this man go to Mumbai,” the girl pleads.

“Damayanti! I am your new father!” the man says firmly to the girl.

And then turning to the young woman he commands, “Kavita. Come. The train is going to leave.”

“Go Baby. Be a good girl. I will be okay,” says the old woman releasing the girl.

As her mother gently holds her arm and guides her towards the train, for the first time in her life the girl feels that her mother’s hand is like the clasp of an iron gate; like manacles.

“I will come and meet you in Mumbai. I promise!” the grandmother says fighting back her tears.

But the girl feels scared – something inside tells her she that may never see her grandmother again.

As the train heads towards the plains, the old woman begins to walk her longest mile – her loneliest mile – into emptiness, a void.

Poor old Lovedale Railway Station, the mute witness, doesn’t even a shed a tear.

It wants to cry. It tries. But it can’t. Poor thing. It’s not human. So it suffers its sorrow in inanimate helplessness.

Powerless. Hapless. Helpless.

A Silent Spectator. A Mute Witness.

A pity. A real pity!

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

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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

How I discovered the Meaning of Love

June 22, 2009

HOW I DISCOVERED THE MEANING OF LOVE

[Short Fiction – A Love Story]

by 

  VIKRAM KARVE  

  

 

 

            I do not know how the idea entered my brain in the first place; but once conceived, it haunted me with such urgency that a strange force took charge of me, impelling me to act. I tucked the packet under my arm and walked towards my destination, looking around furtively like someone with a guilty conscience. 

 

            The moment I saw her photograph I knew that I had to see her. A man’s first love fills an enduring place in his heart. Ten years. Ten long years. She had married money. And status. I was heartbroken. Yet I bore her no pique or rancor. Never will. How can I? I had truly loved her. I still love her. I will always love her. Till my dying day.

 

             I was desperately eager to impress her. To give her a gift would be too obvious. I did not know how much she had told her husband. About me! About us! 

 

            Her children should be the same age as mine. Maybe slightly older. They say the best route to a married woman’s heart is through her children. I looked at the packet under my arm. A gift. The deluxe set of children’s encyclopedias I had promised my son. And my daughter. Year after year. For the last three years. And did not buy. Because it was too expensive. And now I was going to present it to Anjali’s children. Just to impress her. Why? I do not know.

 

            As I rang the doorbell, I felt a tremor of anticipation. Suddenly I realized that I did not know whether Anjali would be happy to see me or pretend she didn’t recognize me. The door opened. Anjali looked ravishing. She gave me her sparkling smile and welcomed me with genuine happiness, “Sanjiv! After so many years! What a delightful surprise. How did you manage to find me?’

 

            We looked at each other. Anjali had fully blossomed and looked stunning. She looked so exquisite, so dazzling, that I cannot begin to describe the intense emotion I felt as I looked intently into her radiating eyes, totally mesmerized by her beauty.

 

            “Stop staring at me, “Anjali said, her large expressive eyes dancing mischievously.

 

            “You look so beautiful. And so young!”

 

            “But you look old. Even your beard has becoming gray.” Anjali paused, probably regretting what she had said.

 

            Then suddenly she held out her hand to me and said, “I am so happy to see you, Sanjiv. Come inside.”

 

            Her house was extravagant. Wealth and opulence showed everywhere. Anjali carried herself majestically with regal poise; her demeanor slick and confident. No wonder! To ‘belong’ had always been the driving force of her life. Money, status, social prestige, success – she had got everything she wanted. I couldn’t help feeling a pang of envy, and failure.

 

            “You like my house?” she asked. “Sit down. And don’t look so lost.”

 

            I sat down on a sofa and kept the gift wrapped packet on the side-table.

 

            Anjali sat down opposite. “How did you know I live here? We shifted to Mumbai only a month ago.”

 

            I took out the wallet from my pocket and gave it to her. “Your husband’s purse. I saw your photograph in it.”

 

            Anjali opened the purse and started to check the contents.

 

            “You don’t trust cops, do you?” I smiled.

 

            Anjali blushed. She kept the wallet on the table. She looked at me with frank admiration in her eyes. “IPS? That’s fantastic. I never thought you would do so well! What are you? Superintendent? Deputy Commissioner?”

 

            Now it was my turn to blush. “No,” I said sheepishly. “I am only a sub-inspector.”

 

            “Oh!” she said, trying to hide her disappointment. But I had read the language of her eyes. The nuance wasn’t lost on me. Suddenly she had changed.

 

            “Is Mr. Joshi at home?” I asked.

 

            “He is still at the office,” Anjali said.

 

            “Oh! I thought he would be home,” I said.

 

            “I’ll make you some tea,” she said and started to get up.

 

            “Please sit down, Anjali. Let’s talk.” I looked at my watch. “It’s already six-thirty. Let’s wait for Mr. Joshi. Maybe he’ll offer me a drink. And dinner.”

 

            “My husband comes home very late,” Anjali said. “After all, he is the Managing Director. There is so much work. And conferences. Important business meetings. He is the top boss – a very successful and extremely busy man.” She couldn’t have spelt it out more clearly. I got the message loud and clear.

 

             Anjali changed the topic and asked, “Where did you find the purse?”

 

              “It was deposited in the lost-and-found section last evening,” I lied.

 

             “It’s strange,” Anjali said. “He didn’t mention anything.”

 

            “He may not have noticed,” I said, tongue-in-cheek, “After all Mr. Joshi is a very busy man to notice such minor things like a missing purse.”

 

            “Yes,” she said, giving a distant look. Anjali opened the purse once more and examined his credit cards and driving license. At first she appeared confused. Then she gave me a cold hard look. But she didn’t say anything. There was a long period of silence. 

 

            Anjali kept staring at me. Looking directly into my eyes.  A distant look. Almost dismissive. I began to feel uneasy. Suddenly I remembered the gift wrapped packet I had brought and exclaimed enthusiastically, “Anjali, where are your children? I have got a gift for them. Just a small present for your kids!”            

 

            From the look on her face, I immediately sensed that I had said something terribly wrong. I saw tears well up in her eyes. All of a sudden, Anjali looked small, weak and vulnerable. I felt a sense of deep regret as comprehension dawned on me. I looked at her helplessly, pleading innocence, but it was of no use. Some day Anjali might understand my actions, but at that moment it was hopeless to try and explain. The hurt was deep, and I had to let it go in silence.

 

            We just sat there in silence, not knowing what to say. A deafening silence. A grotesque silence.

 

            It’s strange how moments you have rehearsed for end up with a different script.

 

            I could not bear it any longer. I quickly got up and started walking swiftly towards the door. Suddenly I realized that I had forgotten to pick up the packet – the gift. But I did not turn back. Why? I do not know.

 

            “Don’t go, Sanjiv. I want to talk to you,” Anjali spoke coldly.

 

            I stopped in my tracks. I could hear Anjali footsteps behind me. I turned around to face her. She seemed a bit composed.  

 

            “You lied to me, Sanjiv,” Anjali said. “I want to know where you found this wallet.”

 

             I did not know what to say. I tried to avoid her eyes.

 

            “Tell me,” Anjali pleaded.

 

            When in doubt, I speak the truth. “We raided one of those exclusive classy joints last night,” I stammered. “A posh call-girl racket……….” I could not continue. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

 

            “I know! Oh yes I know!” Anjali said mockingly. “That impotent creep! Trying to prove his virility to himself.” 

 

            With those few words, she had bared the secret of her marriage. I looked at her. Her manner was relaxed and nonchalant; her fury was visible only in her eyes. 

 

            I was nonplussed. Suddenly I blurted out, “Don’t worry Anjali. I have dropped the charges. I’ll hush it up.” 

 

            I still don’t know why I uttered those words, but on hearing them there was a visible metamorphosis in Anjali. Suddenly she became flaming mad. She looked so distraught and angry that I felt very frightened. Terrified that she would go berserk and attack me, slap me, or something, I instinctively stepped back. But Anjali suddenly turned and left the room. I waited, pole-axed, for a moment and after regaining my composure decided to leave and started to move towards the door.

 

            “Wait!” I heard her scream. I stopped in my tracks and turned around. 

 

            Anjali quickly walked towards me and thrust out her right hand. She held a bundle of hundred rupee notes. “So this is what you have come for, isn’t it? A bribe to hush up the case, isn’t it? Even from me! You unscrupulous dog, I didn’t expect you to fall so low. Here – take the money and get out. This is all I have at home. If you want more, you know where to find my husband; don’t you?”           

 

            “No, Anjali,” I recoiled. “Please don’t ………..”

 

            “Cheap!” Anjali spat out. There was contempt in her eyes. “Cheap riffraff! That’s what you always were, Sanjiv. Get out you filthy blackmailer.” She threw the bundle of notes at me. It hit my chest and fell on the ground, the money scattering near my feet.

 

            “I love you, Anjali,” I said, trying to sound sincere.

 

            “Love,” she exclaimed, her radiating eyes burning with anger. “So you have come to see how your barren old flame is flourishing, isn’t it?” She paused and said sarcastically, “So you are pleased aren’t you? Happy to see my success?”

 

            Her sly and sarcastic suggestion that I might be happy at her misfortune hurt me more than anything else. I turned around and walked out of the house. As I walked towards the gate something hit me on my back. I winced in pain. The three volumes of the expensive Children’s Encyclopedia were scattered on the ground, their silver paper gift wrapper torn. I knew that Anjali was standing in the door looking at me. But I did not look back at her. I gathered the books and walked away into the darkness.

 

            As I gradually came into consciousness from my drunken stupor, I realized that I was in my bed. Though sunlight filtered in through the open windows, everything looked blurred. Slowly things began to come into focus.
 
           My daughter was sitting beside me on the bed. She touched my arm with tenderness. There were tears in her eyes.
 
           My son stood aloof on the other side of the bed. There was fear in his eyes.
 
           My wife looked at me with loving pity and said, “The children want to thank you for the lovely gift. They are so happy!” She was holding the set of encyclopedias in her hands.

          I smiled and reached out to them. They held my hands and smiled back. 

           I looked at the pure unadulterated joy in their eyes. For the first time in my life I experienced a deep genuine true love for my wife and children. A love which I had never felt before. 
          
           Tears of joy welled up in my eyes. I had discovered love.

           Yes, I had discovered the true meaning of love.

  

 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.

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