Posts Tagged ‘short story’

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

October 17, 2014

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

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

DEAD END aka ZAMEEN
Short Fiction Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

From my Creative Writing Archives:

There is a saying in Urdu:

 Har qatl di e jar zan zar zameen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, the story was highly appreciated.  

Huge land acquisitions take place for building projects and institutions. 

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

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

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

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

Do tell me if you like the story.

DEAD END – Short Fiction Story by VIKRAM KARVE

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

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

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

I avoided his gaze and looked around the room. 

Everyone was looking at me in a curious manner. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The employment officer was in a foul mood. 

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

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

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

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

At least he had become a cook. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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RENDEZVOUS AT CAFE NAAZ

May 13, 2011

RENDEZVOUS AT CAFE NAAZ.

RENDEZVOUS AT CAFE NAAZ 
Fiction Short Story – Detective Fiction 
By 
VIKRAM KARVE

From my Creative Writing Archives: 

For a change, here is a Detective Story I wrote recently. Old timers in Mumbai will surely remember the inimitable Cafe Naaz near Hanging Gardens on Malabar Hill overlooking Marine Drive. Sitting at Naaz Restaurant you got the best view of Mumbai. Well Cafe Naaz is no longer there, but memories remain!

A detective always remembers his first case. 

Let me tell you about mine.

This happened long back – more than thirty years ago – in the 1970s – when Pune was a salubrious pensioners’ paradise – a cosy laid back friendly town where everybody knew everybody. 
 
And let me tell you – at the time of this story – I was not even a full fledged detective – but I was just a rookie part-time amateur self-styled sleuth – studying in college – skylarking in my spare time as a private detective – masquerading as a Private Investigator for my uncle who ran a private detective agency.

Dear Reader, please remember that way back then, in good old days of the 1970s, there were no cell-phones, no PCs, no mobile cameras, handy cams or digital cameras, no modern technology gadgets, not even things like email and the internet that you take for granted today and the only method of investigation was the tried and tested good old physical surveillance where one spent hours and hours patiently shadowing and tailing your target.
 
“A woman wants her husband watched,” my uncle said giving me a slip of paper with a name and the room number of a well-known hotel in Pune.
 
“That’s all…?” I asked.

“He is a businessman from Mumbai…drives down to Pune very often…at least once a week…sometimes twice…ostensibly in connection with business…but she suspects there is some hanky-panky going on…”

One week later, waiting for the client to arrive at our planned rendezvous, I sat on the balcony of Café Naaz in the Hanging Gardens atop Malabar Hill sipping a cup of delicious Chai and enjoying the breathtaking view of the inimitable Mumbai sunset as the Arabian Sea devoured the orange sun followed by spectacular view of the Queen’s Necklace as the lights lit up Marine Drive.

She arrived on the dot at seven and sat opposite me.

I looked at my client.  She was a Beauty, a real beauty, 35… maybe 40… must have been a stunner in her college days…I tried not to stare at her.
  
“Okay…Tell me…” she said, getting to the point straightaway.
 
I started reading from my pocket-book, “Thursday morning at ten fifteen he left his hotel room…deposited key at reception telling them that he was going for work would return in the evening…started to drive down in his car towards Deccan…picked up a female who seemed to be waiting for him…she sat next to him…and as they drove off away from the city into the countryside they seemed to be getting amorous…lovey-dovey, you know, a bit of kissing, cuddling…”

“No…No…skip the details…just tell me…is he or isn’t he…?” she interrupted me. 
  
She seemed to be in a hurry. Maybe she was not comfortable being seen sitting with me over here and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.

“I think he is having an affair,” I said.
  
“You think he is having an affair?” 

“Yes. I am pretty sure he is having an affair.”

“How can you be so sure…?”

“Well we look for three things.


“Three things?
  
“Yes, the three key ingredients required to have a affair – Time, Inclination, Opportunity.”

“Time … Inclination … Opportunity…” she repeated looking quite perplexed.
 
“Well they certainly had the Time … they spent the whole day together in seclusion … and they certainly had the Opportunity … behind the privacy of closed doors in that lonely discreet motel hidden in the back of beyond … and as far as the Inclination part is concerned … well, the way they were behaving with each other … well, I have no doubt about it….”

A smile broke out on her face. 

I was flabbergasted. Now tell me dear reader – what would your reaction be if you came to know that your spouse was having an affair? Would you just smile? 

Suddenly I remembered what my uncle had told me, so I asked the woman, “Do you wish to increase coverage?” 

“Coverage?” 

“Yes, full coverage – Photographs, hotel receipts, documentary evidence, round the clock surveillance, explicit details, everything, no holds barred, the full works…” I elaborated. Of course all this detailed investigation would be personally handled in a professional manner by my experienced uncle and his agency. I was very keen that this woman ask us to do a comprehensive investigation. My uncle would be pleased with me and maybe he’d take me along and for me it would be a great learning experience.
  
“I don’t think so,” the woman said.
 
“No?” I said perplexed, “but you will require all this as evidence to establish that your husband is committing adultery.”
 
“Husband? Who said that man is my husband?” she said grinning like a Cheshire cat.
 
“You said so – to the head of the detective agency.”
 
“No, I did not tell your boss that the man was my husband – I never said that he was my husband. I just gave him the name of a man and told him that I wanted that man followed.
  
“But we assumed…”
  
“A good detective shouldn’t assume things, isn’t it…?
 
“But then why did you want that man followed…?” I asked curious.
  
“Well that’s my private matter,” she said, “but since you are such a cute boy and I like you, I will tell you. It is like this – One day, fifteen years ago, the day I completed my graduation, my parents showed me two photographs. The first photo was of the man you were following and the second photo was of the man who is now my husband.”

The woman paused for a moment, had a sip of water, and continued, “My parents told me to choose one, and I made my choice, but ever since then, during all these years of my married life, I was always tormented by the thought that I had made the wrong choice. But now, thanks to you, I know I made the right choice.”
 
She took out an envelope from her purse and gave it to me. “Here is your fee, and I have put in a little bonus for you for doing such an excellent job, she said. 

The woman patted my hand, then she got up and walked away into the enveloping darkness.
  
I opened the envelope and saw that the “little bonus” was much more than the fee – in fact, the bonus for me was more than double the fee for the entire investigation. 

I wondered whether she had two envelopes in her purse, one for each eventuality.

So my first case was over. 

I never forgot the cardinal lesson I learnt from this case. 

Since then, I never assume anything or presume anything – I never take anything for granted. Before I start a new investigation, the first thing I do is to carry out a background check of my client. Maybe that’s why I am such a successful detective.

So if you are thinking of hiring me, remember that the first thing I will do is to check you out.


VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2011
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Did you like this story?
I am sure you will like the 27 stories in COCKTAIL
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:

About Vikram Karve 

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures(2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse – his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts. 

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile Vikram Karve: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
Vikram Karve Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/vikramkarve
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm
Email: vikramkarve@sify.com          
Fiction Short Stories Book

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

THE SUCKER PUNCH

August 12, 2010

Dear Reader, click the link below and read one of my short fiction love stories – THE SUCKER PUNCH

THE SUCKER PUNCH.

Tell me if you liked the story

Vikram

LIP SYMPATHY and CROCODILE TEARS

August 10, 2010

LIP SYMPATHY and CROCODILE TEARS.

TIME INCLINATION OPPORTUNITY Detective Fiction

August 1, 2010

TIME INCLINATION OPPORTUNITY Detective Fiction.

RENDEZVOUS at LANDOUR PEAK

July 25, 2010

The Woman with Restless Eyes and Enticing Perfume.

Love Torn Apart – A Lovedale Story

July 23, 2010

LOVE TORN APART

Fiction Short Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE

One of my earliest fiction short stories set on the beautiful Nilgiri Mountain Railway –  for old times’ sake…

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 is 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 in the compartment.

“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. And by the way, she is your ex-mother-in-law now.”

“How can you say that…?”

“Come on, Kavita, don’t get too sentimental…you must begin a new life now…there is no point carrying the baggage of your past…” the man realizes he has said something wrong and instantly apologizes, “I am 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 the man turns to the young woman and 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.

It wants to cry.

It tries to cry.

But it cannot even a shed a tear.

For it is not human.

So it suffers its sorrow in inanimate helplessness, powerless, hapless, a silent spectator, and a mute witness. Yes, Lovedale helplessly watches love being torn apart.

“Love being torn apart at Lovedale” – a pity, isn’t it…?

Yes, a pity…real pity…!

LOVE TORN APART

Fiction Short Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010

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

VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU and The Lawrence School Lovedale, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. His delicious foodie blogs have been compiled in a book “Appetite for a Stroll”. Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog – http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Professional Profile of Vikram Karve – http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

Email: vikramkarve@sify.com

Links to my creative writing blog and profile

CREATIVE WRITING by VIKRAM KARVE

VIKRAM KARVE Profile and Bio

MY FOODIE ADVENTURES BOOK

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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

Appetite for a Stroll

vikramkarve@sify.com

The Healthier Side

July 14, 2010

A YUMMY DATE

Short Fiction – A Breezy Romance

By

VIKRAM KARVE
She stands in front of the full-length mirror and looks at herself.

She cringes a bit, for she does not like what she sees.

The jeans make her look fat.

And the tight blue top – it’s all wrong!

So she wears a loose dress – Churidar, Kurta and Dupatta – to hide her bulges.

She looks at her new high-heels – should she? They’ll make her look tall, less fat.

No.

Not today.

Now it’s got to be walking shoes.

A brisk invigorating walk from Chowpatty to Churchgate rejuvenating her body breathing the fresh evening sea breeze on Marine Drive is what she needs to cheer her up.

She stands on the weighing machine at Churchgate station and, with a tremor of trepidation, puts in the coin.

Lights flash.

Out comes the ticket.

She looks at it.
Same as yesterday.
And the day before.
And the day before.
No change.
She is doomed.
There is never any change in her weight or in her fortune!
Her face falls.

She’s trying so much… exercising, dieting.
But it’s of no use… her weight, her size, remains the same…

She looks longingly at the Softy Ice Cream counter.

There is a smart young handsome man with two Ice Cream cones, one in each hand.

He looks at her for that moment longer than necessary.

She averts her eyes, but he walks up to her and says, “Hi! How are you?”

She looks at him confused.

His face seems vaguely familiar.

“You are Sheena’s roommate, aren’t you?” he asks.

She remembers him.

He is Sheena’s boyfriend from HR.

“Here,” he says, coming close, proffering an Ice Cream cone.

She steps back awkwardly, perplexed and taken aback by the man’s audacity.

“Take the ice cream fast. It’ll melt,” he says.

She hesitates, confused.

“Come on. Don’t be shy. I know you love Ice Cream. Sheena told me.”

She takes the Ice Cream cone from his hands.

“I’m Mohan. I work in HR.”

She doesn’t say anything.

“Let’s walk,” he says, “and hey, eat your ice cream fast before it melts”.

They start walking.

As they walk slowly out of Churchgate station towards Marine Drive, they slowly lick the creamy yummy softy ice cream off their cones.

“You walked all the way?” he asks.

“Yes,” she speaks for the first time.

“All alone?”

“Yes.”

“You come here every evening?”

“Yes. I jog every morning too.”

“All alone?”

“No. On other days we come together.”

“We?”

“Sheena and me.”

“And today?”

“Sheena’s gone out.”

“For the office party at the disc?”

“Maybe.”

“And you? Why didn’t you go for the party? Didn’t want to go all alone is it? No date?”

She’s furious.

But she controls herself.

She says nothing.

No point getting on the wrong side of HR.

He notices and says, “Hey, don’t get angry. I didn’t go the party too.”

She hastens her steps and says, “Okay. Bye. Time for me to go! And thanks for the Ice Cream.”

“No. No. Wait. Let’s have a Pizza over there,” he says pointing to the Pizzeria on Marine Drive by the sea.

“No. Please. I’ve got to go.”

“Come on. Don’t count your calories too much. And don’t weigh yourself every day.”

“What?” she goes red with embarrassment!

This is too much! So this guy has been stalking her – watching her every day.

Outwardly she fumes. But inside, she secretly feels a flush of excitement.

“Yes. Don’t get obsessed about your weight. Like Sheena.”

“Sheena?”

“She keeps nagging me about my weight?”

“But you’re not fat!” she says.

“Then what would you say I am?” he asks.
“Let’s say you’re on the healthier side?”

“Healthier side? That’s great!” he says amused. “Then you too are on the healthier side, aren’t you?”

“Oh yes. We both are on the healthier side.” She laughs.

He laughs.

They both laugh together.

Healthy laughter!

They sit in the sea breeze and relish, enjoy their pizzas.

He is easy to talk to, she has much to say, and the words come tumbling out.

And so they enjoy a ‘healthy’ date.

Relishing delicious Pizzas, and other lip smacking goodies, to their hearts’ content, capping the satiating repast with the heavenly ice creams at Rustom’s nearby.

“Where were you?”  Sheena asks when she returns to their room in the working women’s hostel late at night.

“I had a date.”

“You? Fatso? A date?”  Sheena says disbelievingly

“Yes. A yummy date at Churchgate.”

“A date at Churchgate? Wow! Things are looking up for you yaar!”

“Yes. Things are really looking up for me. And you Sheena? How was your date?”

“The whole evening was ruined. That creep Mohan. He stood me up. He didn’t turn up at the disc and kept his mobile off.”

“Mohan?”

“You’ve met him.”

“Mohan? You’ve not introduced me to any Mohan.”

“Of course I have. He’s come here to pick me up so many times. He comes over to meet me at our office too. He works in HR.”

“Oh the guy from HR. The chap on the healthier side! That’s your darling Mohan, is it?”

“Darling? My foot!” Sheena says angrily, “Bloody ditcher, that’s what that Mohan is – how dare he stand me up – to hell with him!” Sheena mutters and goes off to sleep.

But our heroine cannot sleep.

She eagerly waits for sunrise.

For at six in the morning her newfound beau Mohan has promised to meet her on Marine Drive opposite the Aquarium – for a “healthy’”jog on Marine Drive.

And they will be meeting in the evening too – at Churchgate – for ice cream, pizza and a yummy lovey-dovey date.

She feels happy, full of anticipation and zest.

Happiness is when you have something to look forward to.
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://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

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

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

BPO KPO LPO – My Call Center Story

June 14, 2010

BPO KPO LPO – My Call Center Story.

BREAKUP

June 5, 2010

BREAKUP.

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