Posts Tagged ‘mussoorie’

SAPIENCE – My Favourite Short Stories Revisited Part 25

January 10, 2012

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: SAPIENCE – My Favourite Short Stories Revisited Part 25.

Click the link above to read one of my earliest short stories SAPIENCE


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RENDEZVOUS at LANDOUR PEAK

July 25, 2010

The Woman with Restless Eyes and Enticing Perfume.

Chilled Beer

May 6, 2010

CHILLED BEER

Fiction Short Story – A Mystery

By

VIKRAM KARVE

It’s a lazy Sunday morning and I sit languidly in my balcony reminiscing the good old days of my wonderful past, melancholically mourning the gloomy and depressing present, and speculating with foreboding about what the ominous future may hold in store for me.

The doorbell rings.

I curse at being disturbed from my reverie, and wonder who’s come to meet me on a Sunday morning.

I open the door.

I am dumbstruck.

It is that gorgeous snooty pompous beauty called Monica, my wife Anjali’s friend and colleague, who lives across the street.

“Anjali is not at home,” I say tersely.

“I know,” she says, “I’ve come to see you.”

“Me…?” I stare at her baffled, for till now the pretentious haughty Monica, who doesn’t care for losers, has always ignored me as if I did not exist.

“Yes, Ajay, I know Anjali is not at home. I’ve come to see you. I want to talk to you alone.”

“Alone…?” I am curious as I can feel a shiver of anticipation rising within me. We’ve never been alone before.

“Yes. Alone. Won’t you ask me to come in…?”

“Of course. Please come in. Shall we sit in the balcony…?”

“No. We’ll sit inside here, so no one will see us and we can talk in private.”

Monica looks chic and ravishing, in tight jeans and a close fitting pink T-shirt.

I try not to stare at her.

The moment we sit down on the living room sofa, she says, “Suppose you found out that your wife was being unfaithful. Tell me, Ajay, what would you do…?”

Taken aback by the bombshell, I say, “What…?”

“Suppose you caught her having an affair.”

“What nonsense…!” I say angrily, but inside me there germinates a small seed of doubt. Does Monica know something…? Why is she saying all this…? Trying to hide my fears, I put up a solid face and say, “Come on Mrs. Kumar. It’s impossible. You know Anjali for so many years and how much she loves me.”

“Hey, stop calling me Mrs. Kumar. I’ve told you before, haven’t I…? You just call me Monica…” Monica says, looks provocatively into my eyes, and asks, “Now think carefully…Suppose, just suppose, you caught your wife Anjali having an affair, cheating on you, betraying your trust with infidelity…”

“I’ll kill her,” I say instinctively.

“How…?”

“How…? What do you mean ‘How’…?”

“I mean ‘How’. How will you kill your wife…?”

“Well, I don’t know,” I say getting up from the sofa, not wanting to continue this conversation.

“Let’s hypothesize. Will you shoot her…? Strangle her…? Stab her to death…? Suffocate her with a pillow…? Push her over the balcony or shove her off a cliff…?  Electrocute her…? Drown her…? Douse her with kerosene and set her on fire…? An ‘accidental’ gas cylinder explosion…?”

“What do you want from me…? Why are you harassing me…? Please go away Mrs. Kumar. Anjali will be here any moment,” I beseech her.

“No, she won’t. I know she’s gone to the health club and parlour for her Sunday session. She’ll be back after twelve. We have enough time together, haven’t we…?” Monica says mischievously looking up at me and adds, “Okay, you just tell me how you would kill your wife if you caught her having an affair, and I promise I’ll go away…!”

“I’d probably use poison,” I say, and start walking towards the entrance door.

Monica remains seated in silence for some time, and then she looks at me intently and says, her words clear and deliberate, “Poison… The way you finished off Nisha, your first wife…?”

I stop dead in my tracks.

Stunned, pole-axed, I can sense a sharp, cold fear drilling into my vitals.

I look at Monica, into her shining eyes.

She knows…

And she wants me to know, that she knows…

And now I know that I have no choice.

I walk back to my sofa, sit down and say to her, “So you want to kill your husband. Just because you think he is having an affair.”

“You killed Nisha, didn’t you…?” she asks, looking directly into my eyes.

I feel very frightened, scared.

How much does Monica know…?

Or is she just speculating, guessing…?

Maybe she’s just trying a shot in the dark…

But seeing the venom in her eyes, I realize that I dare not take any chances, so I smile and say, “Well, Monica, you have got your manacles on me, haven’t you…?”

“Listen, Ajay,” Monica says, her voice soft, as she speaks in measured tones, “I don’t want a scandal, that’s why I haven’t given him even the slightest hint that I suspect. But I can’t live a lie any longer pretending I am happy. The flimsy façade of our successful marriage, the veneer of pretence – it’s all going to blow-up sooner or later as he is becoming more and more indiscreet and careless.”

She pauses for a moment and says, “He’s got to go. Quickly. Quietly. As ‘normal’ a death as you can arrange.”

“Why don’t you leave him…? Ask him for a divorce.”

“It’s much better to be a widow than a divorcee, isn’t it…?”

I think about what she says.

Monica is right. It is much better to have all the sympathy of a widow than the stigma of being a divorcee; inherit all her husband’s riches, money, property rather than the paltry alimony.

Her husband is rich and successful, and her marriage a social triumph.

“Tell me, who is he having an affair with…?” I ask out of sheer curiosity.

“It’s none of your business,” she says angrily. “Just do what I tell you and don’t delve too deeply.”

“I thought maybe…”

“What’s the use…? He’ll get another one – bloody philanderer,” Monica says with contempt. “It’s he who has betrayed me and I want to get rid of him fast. You do this for me, Ajay, and my lips remain sealed about Nisha forever. I promise…”

“That’s all…?”

“I’ll clear all your gambling debts, your loans, the mortgages – with the bookies, financers…”

Inside I tremble with indescribable terror… outside I try to be calm and say, “You know all about me, don’t you…?”

“I’ve done my homework. Now you execute a foolproof plan. And after it’s all over there’ll be plenty more to come for you. I’ll give you so much money, you can’t even imagine…”

“Okay, let’s brainstorm. You tell me everything about your husband. Each and every detail, his food habits, his routine, his programme for the next few days, about both of you, everything. Absolutely everything.”

“I’m thirsty,” Monica announces.

“Fresh Lime…?”

“How about a chilled beer?”

I get two cans of chilled beer from the fridge.

“Hey,” Monica exclaims holding up a beer can, “you know what…? Kumar drinks the same brand of beer as you do…! It’s his favourite beer.”

“That’s a good start,” I say and clink my beer can with hers, “Cheers… To our success… Now tell me everything.”

Monica tells me everything about her husband Kumar.

I listen intently and carefully make notes.

By the time Monica finishes, in my mind’s eye I am already evaluating the pros and cons of various options of how Kumar is going to die.

“How do you want him to die…? Instantaneous death or prolonged illness…?” I ask Monica.

“I want to finish it off as quickly as possible. Painless. Fast. When he is far away from here. Like maybe during his trekking trip to Mussoorie next week,” she pauses for a moment and says, “but make sure it’s a perfect foolproof job – not even an iota of doubt or needle of suspicion.”

My mind races, exploring and weighing all the options, like maybe an exotoxin which leaves no trace, excretes itself from the organism within a few hours…?

I keep on thinking, my brain cells working at lightning speed, and all of a sudden I know what I’m going to do…

“We’ll give him something in his favourite beer,” I say.

“What…? Tell me, please…” Monica says excitedly.

“Now you don’t delve too much…” I say haughtily. “Just do what I say. Lips sealed. And ask no questions…”

“Okay.”

I look at the notes I have made when she was telling me about her husband and ask, “His weight is only 70…?”

“That’s right. Seventy kilograms. Five feet ten. Thirty Eight years of age. Ideal, isn’t it… He’s a fitness freak.”

“And he leaves for Mussoorie on Thursday…”

“Yes. Early in the morning.”

“Okay,” I say, “I’ll have the beer can ready by Wednesday evening. Make sure you collect it by six before Anjali comes back from office and see that he drinks it…”

“No. No. You serve it to him. Let him have it here. In front of you. Right here.”

“He’s never come here to our place before…”

“He will come here. If you invite him.”

“Fine. I’ll tell Anjali to invite both of you to dinner on Wednesday evening. She’s been wanting to call you over for a long time.”

“And…?”

“I’ll make sure your Kumar drinks the special beer. He’ll be off to Mussoorie on Thursday, and you should have the ‘good news’ by Sunday morning.”

“He shouldn’t pop off here…”

“He won’t. I’ll calculate everything precisely – make sure there’s at least a 36 hour incubation and proliferation period.”

After Monica leaves, I realize three things.

Firstly, murder is a rather lucrative business.

Secondly, from an amateur, I am going to become a professional.

And thirdly, infidelity is not only reason why Monica wants to get rid of her husband.

Everything works as per my plan.

I meticulously keep the vacuum microencapsulated ‘special’ can of beer firmly in its designated place in the fridge on Wednesday morning the moment Anjali leaves for work.

Then I leave for my office.

When I open the fridge the moment I return early from work on Wednesday evening I notice that the particular beer-can is missing.

My heart skips a beat, I feel a tremor of trepidation, search desperately in the fridge, don’t find the can, and soon I’m in a state of total panic.

After a frantic search I find the empty beer can in the kitchen dustbin.

I pick up the can and check.

Oh yes, no doubt about it – it is the same beer-can.

And the beer can is empty…

I try to think, steady my confused mind.

Who can it be…?

Everything becomes clear all of a sudden and I find myself shaking in sheer terror.

I rush to the bedroom, run around the house like a crazy animal.

Anjali is not at home.

I dial her mobile.

An excruciating wait as time stands still.

Anjali answers.

“Anjali…? Where are you…?”

“In the mall. Picking up some stuff for the evening.”

“So early…?”

“I took half a day off. Came home for lunch, got things tidied up and ready for the evening and am just getting a few things from the market. I’ll be back soon.”

“Anjali. The beer…! The beer…! ” I stutter anxiously.

“You want me to get more beer…? I thought we had enough.”

“No. No. There is a beer-can missing in the fridge. I found it in the dustbin.”

“Oh, that. I drank it in the afternoon,” Anjali says.

“What…? You drank that beer…?” I shout anxiously.

“Yes. I drank it. I came home in the afternoon. It was hot. I felt thirsty. So I opened the fridge, picked up a can of beer and I drank it. It’s that simple.”

“You stupid fool… Why did you drink that beer-can…?” I scream into the phone.

“Stupid fool…? How dare you…? Ajay, have you lost it…? I just can’t understand your behaviour now-a-days…” Anjali says and disconnects.

It was extraordinary, how my mind became clear all of a sudden.

There was no known antidote to the stuff I had synthesized.

Clinically, there was nothing I could do.

Logically, there was no point in doing something stupid in desperation.

It was a question of my own survival.

Having sunk to the depths of depravity, all I could do was helplessly wait and haplessly watch Anjali die.

She was less than sixty kilos, much lighter than Kumar.

By Saturday evening it would all be over…

The evening passes in a haze.

My heart sinks as I watch Kumar enjoy beer after beer, but what’s the use…? That beer-can, the one I had specially prepared for him, is lying empty in the dustbin.

There is a gleam in Monica’s eye.

What excuse am I going to give her…?

She does not know what’s happened and I shudder to think what she may do when she realizes.

At best she may forget everything; but knowing her vindictive streak, anything is possible…

Inside I tremble with fear in unimaginable agony… outside I try to present a happy and cheerful façade and make pretence of enjoying the dinner.

Time crawls.

I feel wretched and suffer in painful silence the longest and most agonizing hours of my life.

Thursday. Friday. Saturday.

I closely observe Anjali for symptoms, waiting for the worst.

Nothing happens.

Anjali seems normal, in fact, quite hale and hearty.

Sunday.

Anjali is still going strong…!

She sits across the dining table devouring her favorite idli-chutney-sambar Sunday breakfast.

I marvel at her constitution, her liver, it’s got to be super-strong; or maybe I’ve goofed up!

My cell-phone rings.

It’s Monica.

My heart skips a beat.

“Hello,” I say with trepidation.

“Ajay, congrats… You’ve done it… Kumar is dead. I just got a call from Mussoorie,” Monica says excitedly.

“How…?” I mumble incredulously, perplexed, baffled out of my wits in consternation.

“It happened exactly like you said. In the early hours of Sunday morning. He died in his sleep. They say maybe it was heart failure. Painless, instantaneous death.”

“I’ll come now…?” I ask Monica.

“No… No… Not now. We can’t take chances. I’m rushing to Mussoorie now. I’ll finish off everything; make sure the paperwork is done okay. And when I return, you can come and offer your condolences…” I hear Monica’s voice trail away.

I disconnect, put my mobile phone in my pocket, and look at Anjali.

“Who was it…?” she asks.

“Someone from the office,” I lie, trying to keep a straight face.

“Anything important…?”

“No. A man died. That’s all…” I say nonchalantly.

I look at Anjali, into her large brown liquid eyes, and comprehension dawns on me like a bolt of lightening.

What a cuckold she’s made me, a real sucker.

My brain goes into a tizzy. I wonder what I should do to her.  The possibilities are endless, aren’t they…?

And while I contemplate on my plan of action…I think I’ll have a chilled beer…

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.

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

I AM FEELING GOOD – Pure Romance

November 22, 2009

I AM FEELING GOOD

 

Short Fiction   –   Pure Romance   –   A Love Story

 

By 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

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

 

 

I felt good.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I know I had touched a raw nerve.

 

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

 

He opened it and stared at Piyu’s handwriting.

 

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

 

“There aren’t,” he said.

 

“Except Piyu?”

 

“Please Shalu…….”

 

“You want to tell me about her?”

 

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

 

“Piyu ? A funny name?” I said.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“I am twice your age.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Piyu is a closed chapter,” Victor said.

 

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

 

“Promise?”

 

“I Promise.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Don’t speak like that,” I said.

 

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

 

“You too make me feel good!” I said.

 

It was true.

 

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

 

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

 

“Promise?”

 

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

 

“The Darling?”

 

“The Darling!” I said.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“A clandestine visit,” I joked.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“I’ll try,” I said.

 

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

 

“How cute,” I said coyly.

 

“I’ll miss you,” he said.

 

“Take care.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Rest of the luggage?” I wondered.

 

Normally Papa travelled light, with just one bag.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Late twenties? Maybe! Or maybe a bit younger.

 

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

 

I was touched by the way she phrased it.

 

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

 

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

 

“And you?” I asked.

 

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

 

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

 

I sat confused.

 

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

 

Had I said something wrong?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“He must’ve been embarrassed.”

 

“Embarrassed?”

 

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

 

“He’s only 43.”

 

“And you, Priya?”

 

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

 

“You look 25,” I said.

 

She blushed. The baby cried. She went inside.

 

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

 

They – 43 and 28 – Adult Love!

 

We – 15 and 30 – Puppy Love?

 

It’s not fair, isn’t it?

 

I drifted into sleep.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Yes,” she said.

 

“You’ve seen Cellular Jail?” I asked.

 

“Of course,” she said. “Many times.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Silence. Pregnant silence.

 

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

 

“Six months,” she said.

 

“You haven’t named him?

 

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

 

“Vivek?”

 

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

 

“Yes,” I answered.

 

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

 

“Hospital?” Priya asked flabbergasted.

 

“I want you to meet someone,” I said.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

As I write this I am feeling good.

 

Yes, I am feeling good.

 

Don’t ask me why.

 

Happiness goes when you speak of it.

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE  

 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

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

 

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

 

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

 

 

Appetite for a Stroll

  

 

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

 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

 

Why Did You Dump Me ?

July 23, 2009

WHY DID YOU DUMP ME ?

[Flash Fiction – A Short Story]

By

VIKRAM KARVE

The moment I saw the e-mail I did two things.

First I took a print-out of the mail, kept it in my purse and deleted the mail from my mailbox.

Then I called the airlines and booked my ticket on the next flight to India.

The e-mail contained a name and an address. That’s all – just a name and an address.

I cannot begin to describe the emotion I felt as I looked at the name.

I had so many questions to ask him – Unanswered questions that were haunting me for so many years.

It all began when my fiancé Anil suddenly broke off our engagement without any explanation.

“Why?” I asked him totally shocked.

“I can’t tell you,” he said.

“You can’t dump me just like this. I’ve done nothing wrong,” I pleaded heartbroken.

“I’m sorry, Rita. I can’t marry you,” he said trying to look away from my eyes.

“What do you mean you can’t marry me?” I shouted shaking him.

He didn’t say anything, just remained silent, averting his eyes.

“Is it someone else? What do you mean you can’t marry me? Actually you don’t want to marry me, isn’t it?”

“Okay, you can think what you like. I don’t want to marry you.”

“You have to give me an explanation. I am not going to accept being jilted like this.”

“You have to accept it. Don’t delve too much.”

“How dare you say ‘don’t delve too much’, you unscrupulous cheat?” I screamed in anger, taking hold of his collar.

“Cool down,” he said pushing me away. “It’s you who tried to cheat me.”

“I? Cheated you?” I said dumbfounded and furious.

“You shouldn’t have tried to hide things from me,” he accused.

“Hide what?” I asked, getting livid.

“You never told me that you are an adopted child,” he said.

“What nonsense! Don’t talk rubbish. I’m not adopted!” I shouted in anger.

“You are.”

“Who told you?”

“We got some pre-matrimonial enquiries done.”

“Matrimonial Enquiry? You spied on me,” I accused him, “to blackmail me, to humiliate me? With all these lies!”

“Don’t worry. No one else knows. It’s a reliable and discreet investigation agency.”

“It’s not true. I’m not adopted,” I said feeling shattered numb, as if I had been pole-axed.

“Why don’t you ask your parents?” Anil said as he walked away from my life, leaving me heartbroken, desolate and shattered.

I never asked my parents, the only parents I knew. They were the one’s who loved me, gave me everything. I could not ask them; hurt them. I did not have the heart to. They did not say anything to me but I could see the sadness and a sense of guilt in their eyes, as they withered away having lost the will to live. I felt deeply anguished and helpless.

My parents loved me, meant everything to me, and we carried on our lives as if nothing had happened, and I lovingly cared and looked after them till their very end; but deep down I felt terribly betrayed.

Years passed. I relocated abroad past and immersed myself in my work. I tried to forget but I could never forget.

One day I could bear it no longer.

I decided to find out.

And now I had found out.

The investigation agency had done a good job. Confidential and discreet.

For the first time I knew the name of my actual father – my real father, my biological natural father.

And now I had to meet this man and ask him why he did it, commit that cruel unforgivable act of abandoning me to the world.

I landed at Delhi airport in the very early hours of the morning.

It was cold, the morning chill at once refreshing and invigorating, the driver drove fast and it took me six hours by taxi to reach the magnificent bungalow near Landour in Mussoorie.

I checked the nameplate and briskly walked inside, eager to see my real father for the first time.

There was a small crowd gathered in the porch.

“What’s happening?” I asked a man in the crowd.

“Bada Sahab is no more. He passed away this morning. He was so good to us,” he said with tears in his eyes.

I pushed my way through the crowd.

My father’s lifeless body was lying on a white sheet bedecked with flowers, ready for the last rites.

As I looked at his serene face, tears welled up in my eyes.

Suddenly I lost control of myself and cried inconsolably, “I have become an orphan. An orphan!”

“Me too!” a familiar voice said softly behind me.

I turned around and stared at my ex fiancé Anil.

Anil looked into my eyes in awe.

Slowly comprehension began to dawn on us, Anil and me, and we kept looking into each other’s eyes.

Frozen, we looked at each other in silence; grotesque silence; deafening silence; illuminating silence – an enlightening silence.

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

http://www.ryze.com/go/karve

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

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