Saturday, March 27, 2010


The Art of Remaining Single

A Mulla Nasrudin Story   

There is a beautiful and bright young girl who lives in my neighbourhood.

She wants to get married but it seems that she just can’t seem to find anyone suitable matching her "stringent" requirements.

She is surrounded by so many “eligible” boys, colleagues at work, in her friends circle, if she prefers a "love" marriage; and also she has “seen” and “rejected” a large number of boys her parents and well-wishers keep lining up for her, in case she wants to go in for an "arranged" marriage.

None of the boys seems to come up to her perfect standards and high expectations. But one thing is sure - she does want to get married.
I wonder whether I should tell her this apocryphal Mulla Nasrudin Teaching story – THE PERFECT WIFE :

Mulla Nasrudin was sitting in a tea shop when a friend came excitedly to speak with him.
“I am about to get married,” his friend said, “and I am so very excited.”
“Congratulations,” Mulla Nasrudin said, nonchalant,  pokerfaced.
“Tell me, Nasrudin, have you ever thought of marriage yourself?” the about to get married friend asked Mulla Nasrudin who had remained a chronic bachelor.
Nasrudin replied, “Of course I did think of getting married. In my youth, in fact, I very much wanted to get married.”
“So, what happened...?” the friend asked curious.
“I wanted to find for myself the perfect wife,” Nasrudin said, “so I travelled looking for the perfect wife. I first went to Damascus. There I met a beautiful woman who was gracious, kind, and deeply spiritual, but she had no worldly knowledge."

"Oh, how sad...!" said the friend, " then what did you do...?

"Then I travelled further and went to Isphahan. There I met a woman who was both spiritual and worldly, beautiful in many ways, but her social graces were not of the highest standards.”
“What a tragedy...then what did you gave up...?” the friend asked.
“No...No...I don't give up so easily...and I very much wanted  to get I kept on searching for the perfect wife and travelled all over the world meeting so many women..." Nasrudin said.
“And did you find her...? Tell me, did you finally find the perfect wife...?” the friend asked eagerly.
“Yes,” Nasrudin said, “after travelling all over finally I went to Cairo and there after much searching I found her. She was spiritually deep, graceful, and beautiful in every respect, at home in the world and at home in the realms beyond it. I knew I had found the perfect wife.”
“Then why did you not marry her...?” the friend asked excitedly.
“Alas,” said Nasrudin as he shook his head in dismay, “Unfortunately, she was searching for the perfect husband.”
Dear Reader, please be so good as to advise me:
Should I tell the beautiful and bright young girl this Mulla Nasrudin story right now...?
Or should I wait till she perfects the art of remaining single...?


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good Dog Bad Dog

A Dog's Life 
Short Fiction



There is tension brewing in my house. My brother, my sister, even my mother, all are trying to convince my father to sell off our lovely spacious bungalow with a huge compound surrounded by plenty of greenery on the banks the Mula river near Aundh on the outskirts of Pune. But he won’t budge.

I sprawl in the verandah and listen to their conversation.

 “Please try to understand, Papa,” my brother pleads, “we can’t stay in this dilapidated place forever. The builder is giving us a fantastic deal – a luxurious 4 BHK premium penthouse flat – and that too near Deccan Gymkhana – plus whatever money you want in exchange for this godforsaken place.”

“Godforsaken place? How dare you say that? I’ve built this house with my sweat and blood. I like it here and I am going to live here till my dying day!” my father affirms, “If you want, you all can go wherever you like. I’m not going anywhere, I am staying here.”

“Please, Papa!” my sister implores, “Deccan Gymkhana! Just imagine living in Deccan Gymkhana! It’s such a posh locality – and so near my college and all the happening places.”

“It’ll be better for you too,” my mother says, “I’ve seen the place. Luxurious fully furnished flats in a brand new posh building, right opposite Kamala Nehru Park. It’s so near your library, and your club, and you can walk and sit in the beautiful park. You’ll love it there.”

“Meena!” my father says angrily to my mother, “You’ve gone and seen it – without even telling me!”

 “Sanjay took me there in the morning,” my mother says sheepishly.

“Over my dead body!” my father shouts furiously and gets up from his chair. He looks at me and says, “I’m going for a walk. Come Moti – Chain, Chain!”

I jump in delight at the prospect of this unexpected extra outing and rush to get my chain from its place under the staircase. I bring the chain in my mouth – actually it’s not a metallic chain but a leather leash – and hold it in front of my father who ties it to my collar, he picks up his walking stick, and off we go for nice long walk on the jungle path skirting the banks of the Mula river. My father becomes playful and sings to me, “Come, come, come…Moti come!” and I teasingly grab the lead in my mouth, wag my tail and spring up and down and my father says,” Drop it! Drop it!” and I let go off the lead and bounce along.

I love these bubbly walks with my father, there is so much to see, so much to play, so much to sniff – and soon my father will let me off the leash and play chase-chase with me on the sandy ground near the river.

“I don’t know why my father is so stubborn, so adamant,” my brother says to the real estate agent next morning as they talk on the lawn in front of our beloved bungalow, “I think he has gone senile!”

“He’s not gone senile at all,” the wily agent says, “in fact I think your father is a shrewd bargainer.”

“Shrewd bargainer?”

“Had you sold this bungalow last year you wouldn’t have got even half the price you’re getting now. Real estate has suddenly skyrocketed, and yours is the only plot left in this entire place – that’s why they are offering you so much. The developer has managed to acquire everything around here – even that finicky old lady’s place. He’s given her a flat in Mumbai and enough money to live her remaining life in luxury. Once he gets your bungalow he can start his project. That’s why he’s offering you so much – the maximum – it’s a fantastic offer – a deluxe exclusive penthouse apartment in Deccan and a hefty sum of money. I’m telling you – You better make the deal fast; otherwise they’ll try and somehow manage to get hold of your place by hook or crook.”

“Hook or crook?”

“The developer – he’s a big guy – he’s got connections right till the top. Big money is involved. They can even get the DP altered.”


“Yes, DP – it means Development Plan. They’re so desperate to start the project that they’ll get the DP changed and get your land acquired for their project. Then you’ll get a pittance and regret all your life. Better strike while the iron is hot.”

“We will try and convince our father,” my brother says, and then asks the agent, “What’s coming up in this desolate place anyway?”

“It’s a huge 5-star project – IT Park, BPOs, Hotels, Malls, Multiplexes… This whole place is going to be transformed into something so magnificent and futuristic you can’t even imagine – you better make your father see reason, otherwise you’ll be just swept away by the winds of change. Even if you manage to stick on your lone bungalow will be dwarfed between high rise commercial structures all around and it will be difficult to live here.”

The real estate agent pauses, puts his arm around my brother’s shoulder and says, “Talk to your father, your mother – convince them. If they don’t like Deccan, they can choose an apartment from any of our projects – Kondhwa, Kalyani Nagar, Baner, Kothrud – wherever you want – but I am telling you there is nothing to beat Deccan – it’s impossible to get a place there now-a-days!” 

Sitting quietly unnoticed by anyone I hear every word carefully and I feel confused, apprehensive and frightened by all this but I know my father will not succumb. And my chest swells with pride as I know the reason why!

At night, curled up on my mat under my father’s and mother’s double-bed, I attentively listen to my mother nagging my father as they lie down to sleep. “Please Shankar. Don’t be so obstinate. Try to understand – at least for the children’s sake.”

“What about Moti?” my father asks.


“Yes, Moti. Tell me Meena – have you thought about Moti? She can’t live cooped up in a multi-storey flat – she need all this ground and space – there Moti will suffocate,” my father says matter-of-factly.

“What?” my mother suddenly shouts, “I can’t believe this! You’re more bothered about that bloody pie-dog than your own children!”

“Pie-dog? How dare you? Moti is not a pie-dog, she is my daughter!” my father says emphatically.

“Daughter? Have you gone mad Shankar? The comfort of that wretched mongrel is more important to you than the future of your own children, your own blood!”

“Listen Meena,” my father says, “The children will grow up and go way, but Moti will remain with us forever.”

My heart swells with affection and tears of happiness well up in my eyes; words cannot describe the immense love, adoration and warmth I feel for my father.

My Life

My name is Moti. In Marathi, Moti means Pearl, and generally it is a boy’s name, but my father named me Moti and I like it. 

I was born in the garbage dump down the street.  My ‘birth-mother’ was the local street dog, and she died a few days after giving birth to me and my six brothers and sisters, and my ‘dog-father’ is unknown.

We all lay wallowing in the rubbish, and one day they suddenly came and took away all my brothers and sisters in the garbage truck and somehow they left me behind, and I lay helpless and frightened, wondering what was going to be my destiny, when suddenly I found a tough-looking bearded man staring at me.

Shivering with fear I looked back at him in terror as he extended his hands towards me.

But the moment he held me in his large cozy hands, caressed me lovingly, and put his finger tenderly in my mouth, I felt snug, warm, loved, safe and secure.

This was my new father and he had already decided my name – Moti – the name of his canine ‘son’ who had passed away a few days ago.

“She was destined to come here,” my father said feeding me warm milk when everyone asked him why he had brought such an ugly, weak and sickly pie-dog home.

He made a nice warm bed for me in a basket and put it below his own bed. And as I drifted into sleep, he gently fondled me with his hands.

I felt so wonderful, safe, comfortable and happy for the first time in my life.

As I grew up, everyone started liking me, my mother who I follow all around the house, my brother who is a Software Engineer, my sister who studies in Fergusson College, and, of course, my father who always adored me. I am sure my father loves me even more than his "human" children.

I love my family; I love my house, and I love the wonderful life I live.

I wake up early in the morning, get off my cozy mat under my father’s bed, rub my cold wet nose against his hand and give him a lick.

He grunts and growls and opens his sleepy eyes, and the moment he sees me his face lights up and he lovingly caresses me and says, “Good Morning, Moti,” gets up from bed and opens the main door to let me jump out into the garden, do my ‘little job’ at my favorite place near the mango tree, generally dig in the soft morning mud a bit and sniff around to find out if there are any new morning smells, not forgetting to run and welcome the milkman the moment he comes on his cycle.  

When I return I find that my father is back in his bed and my mother is up and about.

She pats and cuddles me and goes about her business making tea in the kitchen while I loiter around the house.

She surreptitiously sneaks to the bedroom and slyly hands over a tidbit to my half-asleep father under the blanket when she thinks I am not looking.

I pretend not to notice, as I do not want to spoil their fun. Earlier, when I was small and impatient, I used to snuffle out the tidbit from my father’s hand, but this spoilt his fun and he became grumpy, and now that I am a mature young girl well experienced in the ways of the human world I have realized that it is better for us dogs to act dumb and let these humans think they are smarter than us.

So I go outside, sit down and put on a look of anticipation towards the gate and pretend not to notice my mother hiding and peeping through the corner of the window and giggling to herself.

The moment the newspaperman comes on his cycle and shouts ‘paper’, I rush to the gate and fetch the newspaper in my mouth, gripping it just right between my teeth, and hold it up to my horizontal father, who gets up, takes the paper from me and gives me the dog-biscuit he’s been hiding in his hand, as my mother, who has rushed behind me, watches me with loving pride in her eyes.

My brother and my sister, who till now were fast asleep in the other room, call out my name, and as I dart between their beds wagging my tail, they both hug and cuddle me all over saying, “Good Morning, Moti. Moti is a good girl!”   Everyone is cheerful and happy and my day is made!

Soon my father will be up and about and call me for playing the “bone-game” – but before that let me tell you about my home.

In front of our roomy bungalow there is a huge garden, or rather an orchard, with all types of trees and bushes, and a lush green lawn on which I love to frolic, prance and roll upside down, and lots of flower beds which I love digging up to my mother’s horror.

I love digging up the mud – it’s so tasty – and there is plenty of it in the spacious kitchen garden behind the house where I create havoc digging up to my heart’s content, and the only thing I’ve spared are the tomatoes and some horrible tasting leaves called Alu, in Marathi, because they itch. 

When I want to go out, I tap the front door with my paws and they let me out, and when I want to come in I peep through the windows, and, if no one notices I bang the door from the outside or make entreating imploring sounds.

And my father taught me ‘human talk’ and some words, and soon I began to ‘speak’ to him – well, we have a vocabulary of our own.

Of course, our communication styles are different – he uses words, speaks in human language, while I rely on varied sounds like whines and howls and groans and non-verbal antics like nudging, pawing, begging, tugging, licking, and when I want his attention desperately, giving him a shake-hand.

I’m lucky – they don’t tie me up but leave me free to roam and play around as I please. And there is so much to explore and investigate, in the nooks and corners of our verdant garden with plenty of trees, bushes and hedges.

There is so much to sniff, so much to dig, and so much to chase - squirrels, mongooses and birds and butterflies.

The cats have disappeared though; ever since the day I almost caught one.

My father has warned me not to leave the compound, but sometimes I can’t resist the temptation, and slither under a gap I’ve discovered under the fence and go out to explore the street outside but take care to quickly return unnoticed.

The only few days he totally restricts my freedom is when I have my chums. He becomes very overprotective, and guards me like a shadow, never taking me off the leash when we go outdoors.

Once, during my chums, I managed to slip away across the fence, and all hell broke loose, and I was located, chased, captured and, for the first time in my life, I was  soundly scolded by my father who was really furious. I felt miserable, and sulked, but then my father caressed and baby-talked me and I knew how much he loved and cared for me, and it was all okay.

And during those sensitive days he specially pampers me and takes me for long leisurely walks, on a tight leash, keeping an eagle eye and stick ready in his hand for those desperate rowdy rascal mongrels who suddenly appear from nowhere and frantically hang around and try to follow me, their tongues drooling, looking at me in a lewd restless manner.

Once they even had the gumption to sneak into the compound at night, and beseechingly whine outside, till my father chased them away. 

When I was small, and my gums itched, and my milk teeth began to break through, I could not resist chewing up anything I could lay my teeth upon – like shoes, slippers, clothes, toothbrushes, furniture . I especially loved chewing up my father’s favourite Kolhapuri ‘Kapshi’ chappals which were so silky-soft and yummy.

So my father bought me a chewy bone which, it said on the wrapper, was guaranteed to save everything else.

I don’t know why, but I secretly buried the bone in a hole I dug below the Mango tree, and I used to dig it out when I thought no one was looking, chew it a bit, and bury it in some other secret place. 

One day my inquisitive mother found out, and she dug up the bone when I was sleeping and hid in under the pomegranate tree. When I didn’t find it, at first I was confused, then I tracked the bone down with my nose, and when I spied my mother giggling and grinning like a Cheshire cat, I knew who the culprit was.

This started the “bone-game”.

First they (the humans – my mother and father) would give me the bone, and after I hid it they would rush out into the garden and dig it out – then they would hide the bone (after locking me in the house so I could not see) and make me find it, which I did using my nose. 

I wondered how they found the bone so fast, and one day I caught them spying crouching behind the hedge when they thought I wasn’t looking and the mystery was solved.

So now I first let them see where I’m hiding the bone, and when they complacently and confidently go inside thinking they know everything, I dig out the bone and hide it some other place which they do not know and then watch the fun as they search in vain.

Then when they go inside and my father asks me to get the bone, I run out and get it, for which I earn a tidbit.

The way these humans act sometimes, I really wonder who is more intelligent – they or I?

Dog Days

One day my brother, my sister, and even my mother, they all gang up on my poor hapless father, apply all kinds of pressure – emotional blackmail, threats, cajoling – and soon he wilts, his defenses broken down – and it is not long before we leave our beloved bungalow and move, lock stock and barrel, to the ‘luxurious’ flat in Deccan Gymkhana.

And with the huge sum of money the builder has given him, my father has transformed overnight from a simple frugal pensioner to a rich prosperous crorepati.  

For me, life is horrible - just like hell.

The marble floors are so hard, smooth and slippery that my nails break and paws get sore.

The fancy ‘luxurious’ fittings are so fragile, and decorative adornments are so delicate, that my mother is always on the edge when I prance around, scolding me to sit down quietly.

There is no earth to dig, no bushes and trees to smell, no grass for a carefree loll, and, worst of all, no cats and rats, mongooses and squirrels, and birds to chase.

The society over here is so elitist that even their dogs are snobbish, and they sneer at me and loudly speculate about my pedigree. 

I can’t even pee where I please after sniffing around and selecting a bush, or a tree, as in the good old days.

Here, in the "luxurious" flat, there is a stipulated sand-pit in the corner of the terrace earmarked for my ablutions.

They don’t allow me in the lift, so my poor old father has to walk me down ten floors, and then up again after our daily walk.

Even that I don’t enjoy any more, as we have to squeeze ourselves on the crowded streets in the hustle bustle and din of traffic, since on the first day he took me out, we were to stopped at the entrance of the verdant
Kamala Nehru Park and my father was rudely shown the sign – DOGS NOT ALLOWED.

In short, my life is hell!

My father too has a guilt conscience and is more and more affectionate towards me, and I too feel sorry for him and snuggle up to him whenever I can and tell him it’s okay and I’m happy.

My loving father and I have become closer to each other than ever before and endure our misery together in silence, while the rest of my family, celebrating their newfound affluence, are becoming more and more distant.

One evening while huffing and puffing up the stairs my father suddenly cries out my name, “Moti! Moti!” and then he drops my leash, clutches his heart and collapses in a heap.

I bark and bark desperately, but no one comes for quite some time, and then suddenly they all appear, carry my father to the lift and take him away. I follow them to the gate and watch them put my father in a car. I want to go with him but they shoo me away.

Everyday I eagerly wait for my father to come back.

I wait and wait, but my father never comes back.

Never – he never comes back – and I never see my father again.

Things change, my brother gets married, his newly wedded wife hates dogs, so they tie me up in a dirty corner of the terrace whole day, and for the first time in my life I realize that I, Moti, once the apple of their eyes, have now become a terrible burden.

Days pass, a baby is born, and I am further banished from the house lest the delicate baby get allergic. One day, the baby crawls towards me.

I wag my tail welcoming my adorable little nephew.

The baby catches my tail, pulls my tail with his full weight and tries to stand up.

The pain is terrible, but I grit my teeth and stoically suffer the excruciating agony.

The baby innocently pulls my tail even harder, and now, unable to bear the terrible excruciating pain I squeal, howl and yelp in unimaginable agony, desperately crying for help.

My brother’s wife comes running out and starts shouting, “The dog, the dog, it’s killing my baby!” and my mother comes out and runs towards me.

The baby releases my tail, I try to lovingly lick the baby, but my mother takes him away, comes back and glares at me, while I look at her trying to convince her of my innocence.

Tell me, how can I ever think of even slightly harming my little baby nephew who I love so much?

But it’s no use. In the evening, my brother comes home, and he and his wife have a heated argument about me. “Either I stay in this house or the dog stays,” she warns my brother threateningly, “I can’t leave my baby with this dangerous dog. If the dog stays, I’ll go to my mother’s place. You make your choice.”

Later, in the evening, after taking me for my customary walk, my brother stops by at the vet doctor’s clinic and I overhear snippets of their conversation, “unprovoked…aggressive…behaviour…put to sleep…”

Shivers of fear drill my insides.

Alarmed, I tug violently with all my strength, break the hook holding the collar to the leash and run for my dear life.

My brother chases me so I turn swiftly into an alley; see a garbage dump, jump inside and hide.

No one comes for some time.

Wallowing miserably in the filth I smile to myself at the irony of it all. Born in a rubbish dump, and now it looks like I am destined to die in a rubbish dump.

That’s the tragedy of a dog’s life, isn’t it?

Well that's my story. A Dog's Story. My Life Story.


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. 


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SHENANIGANS - Short Fiction - A New Age Love Story


Short Fiction – A Love Story



“I want to marry your husband.”

“What? Are you mad or something?”

“No. I am not mad. Can’t you see? I am perfectly okay. I want to marry your husband. So I have come to ask you to please let him free…”

“I don’t want to talk to you. Please leave my office.”

“Come on Anu…”

“Anu? Listen Madam, my name is…”

“Anamika – Mrs. Anamika Prem Kumar, Senior Project Manager, IT whiz kid, ambitious, ruthless, careerist… I know everything about you…and don’t ‘madam’ me…call me Priti…that’s my name...Prem must have told you about me.”

“Priti?...never heard of you…I don’t know who you are…Prem’s told me nothing about you…he’s never even mentioned your name.”

“Funny, isn’t it? Think about it. I know everything about you but you know nothing about me. You see, your husband Prem tells me everything about you – each and every detail, he even shares your intimate secrets, but he doesn’t tell you about me – your darling husband hides his relationship with me from you!”

“Relationship? Intimate secrets? What nonsense…”

“Shall I tell you about your honeymoon…Things only you and Prem should know?”

“Who the hell do you think you are? Barging into my office unannounced…”

“Hey, I didn’t barge in. I sent you my visiting card, and you called me in, isn’t it? It’s all there on my card, my name, designation, the company I work for…Let’s say I am your husband’s colleague, his work-mate, his teammate, we almost share the same desk...”

Anamika looks at the card, picks up her cell-phone, but before she can dial Priti interrupts her, “You’re calling Prem? Don’t disturb him, Anu. Prem must be sleeping.”

“Sleeping? At eleven in the morning? He should be in office…”

“See, you don’t even know…”


“Prem had his wisdom tooth extracted last evening…it was very very painful…Poor Prem…He was in such excruciating agony that I had to sit at his bedside the whole night…First thing in the morning I gave him a sedative and drove straight down to Pune to meet you.”

“You were with him the whole night?”

“No. No. It’s not what you think. We’re not having a physical affair – it’s purely platonic – maybe you can call it an emotional affair – at least till now – but it’s still a love affair, isn’t it?”

“Love? How can he love you? I am his wife!”

“Wife? Oh yes, you’re his legally wedded wife! But tell me Anu, where are you when he needs you..?”

“Needs me…?”

“See, you’re so busy out here in Pune chasing your career dreams that you don’t even know what he’s going through staying alone in Mumbai.”

“Of course I know. I speak to him on the mobile every day…”

“I know. Prem tells me all about it…and he also tells me how you bore him sick during your weekend rendezvous with your nauseating mask of fake love, he is fed up of your sugary sweet talk, your pretence, your ‘caring and sharing’ act...”

“That’s not true…we spend ‘Quality Time’ together…”

“Ha, Ha... ‘Quality Time’ indeed…once a week…it’s once a month now isn’t it…since you have started working on weekends to meet your deadlines…and long gaps when you go globetrotting on your projects…well you may be having your rare moments of ‘Quality Time’ with Prem, but me and Prem are spending plenty of ‘Quantity Time’ together…and that’s what really matters…”

“Listen Miss Priti…I’ve tolerated you long enough…I think it’s time you go now…I’ve work to do…And I am warning you…don’t try to steal my husband from me…”

“Steal your husband? There is no need for me to steal your husband…he is already mine…it is you who have thrown Prem into my arms then I am quite willing to have him be there…and hold onto him tight...”

The woman called Anu gets up and says, “I think it is time for you to go now.”

“I’ll tell Prem to get the papers ready. I think it’s best to get this over with as fast as possible.”

“Papers? What papers? I am not going to sign any papers. And I am warning you Miss…you just stay away from my husband…Good Bye!”

“Be reasonable, Anu…we are three persons in this marriage. That’s not good. There should be only two persons in a marriage, not a threesome. You are his paper wife, I am his office wife. Between the two of us I think I am more in tune with him, so I think it is you who will have to leave the threesome…Think about it…take your time…I am sure you will understand…” Priti says and leaves Anu’s office.

She doesn’t take the lift, but deliberately walks down the staircase, reflecting on her tête-à-tête with Anu, congratulating herself on a job well done.

She returns her visitor’s pass at the reception, walks past the foyer, crosses the road and reaches her car.

The moment Priti sits in her car she calls up her “office husband” Prem from her mobile.

“I spoke to her,” Priti says to Prem, the moment comes on line.

“I know. Anu rang up just now,” Prem says.

“So fast?”

“You really seem to have really rattled her. Anu’s coming down to Mumbai this evening after work. She’s taken a week’s leave. She wants to stay with me in Mumbai, talk things over. She was even asking about my wisdom tooth…she said she wanted to look after me!”


“Thanks, Priti. I think you’ve saved my marriage.”

“Come on Prem…there’s no ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ between friends.”

“Yes, Priti, you’re really my true friend, my best friend in the world!”

“Hey, don’t get senti…and by the way…if she doesn’t turn up…gives you a ditch…remember I’m always there for you…but I’m sure she’ll come and everything will work out for you two.”

“I hope so.”

“I’m sure of it…and now I am going to make myself scarce for a few days…spend some time with my sister in Pune…then we’ll meet at the office and talk…bye.”

“Bye,” Prem says and he feels a flood of love, a unique affection, a sort of warm gratitude for Priti.

Meanwhile, Anu aka Mrs. Anamika Prem Kumar leaves her office and walks across to the cabin of her “office husband”. She enters and closes the door.

“You won’t believe it,” she laughs, “dodo is having an affair!”

“Your husband is having an affair? I cannot believe it!” the man says incredulous.

“The female was here. Her name is in Prem's office...she came here all the way from Mumbai,” Anu says, and then Anu tells her companion all about it.

“Just imagine, Anu! You were almost going to tell him about us...and you were feeling so what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to Mumbai to meet him. I’ll throw a real tantrum…I will create a ruckus, tell him he is a cheat...I will accuse him of infidelity, of being disloyal, of betraying me...I will tell him I want out...I think it is better that he has the guilt conscience, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” the man says, “it is much better that he has the guilty conscience.”


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.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


This is one my earliest amateurish attempts at creative writing.
At that time, more than twenty years back, blogging was non-existent, and the only way to get someone to read your writings was to try and publish it in one of the magazines, and unlike today, when it is so easy to instantly communicate and blog one’s thoughts and writing, thanks to creative vehicles like Sulekha, at that point of time creative writers were at the mercy of “non-creative” editors.
You submitted your story, and waited and waited…and maybe finally, if you got a reply at all, it was a rejection letter…and sometimes, very rarely, you suddenly saw your story in print.
But as far as this piece is concerned, when I read it now, I’m not surprised it was rejected.
Now, I’m posting it on my blog for you to read.
If you like the story, do comment.
If you don’t like it, please do send in your brickbat along with constructive criticism to help me improve my writing. I will appreciate your feedback.
Maybe, this can be a lesson in how not to write a short story

Short Fiction - A Romance


I wrote this fiction short story long back, sometime in the 1980’s, when there were first class compartments in trains, and air-conditioned sleeper coaches had just made their appearance. I wonder why I never told anyone this story. 
So, my Dear Reader, you're the first one I am telling this story to...  
             I wondered how you said goodbye to a woman with whom you made love, for the first time.
            “Goodbye,” she said. “We both got what we wanted, didn’t we?”
            She didn’t wait for my reply, but picked up her bag and went away. I remained tongue-tied, frozen. I was too confused to react. It had been my first experience.
            “How was the trip to Vizag...?” asked Sanjiv, welcoming me to his living room.
            I started talking shop.
            Sanjiv opened a bottle of beer and said,” All that can wait till tomorrow morning – in the office. Anything exciting...? Any conquests...?”
            “Yes,” I said. “But you won’t believe me.”

            “Tell me”, he said

            I told him, very briefly.

 He listened with interest.

          Probably he did believe me.

         He handed me a beer mug as we walked towards the balcony. We sat down, said ‘cheers’ and took a long pull of beer.
            “Tell me everything, all the juicy details,” Sanjiv said, in an almost peremptory manner.
            I had no choice. Sanjiv was my boss. I had to tell him everything.

            This is the story that I told him.
            Sunrise, on the eastern coast, is a resplendent spectacle. I stood on the beach to behold the breaking of the sun’s upper limb over the horizon of the sea. It was a breathtaking sight – like the unfolding of crimson petals of a gigantic flower. It was my first morning in Visakhapatnam
– ‘Vizag’ as it is popularly known.

            I turned to walk back to my hotel.

            I saw her almost at once.


           Our eyes met.

           She had capricious eyes.

            I smiled.

           She smiled.

           I felt instantly attracted to her. She looked so nubile, and the same time voluptuous. I just couldn’t take my eyes off her.

          She gave me a canny look, then suddenly turned around and walked away.

           I looked at my watch. It was precisely 6 o’clock in the morning.


            For the next ten days, I never missed my rendezvous at sunrise with her. In fact, it was the only event I used to look forward to. But I never made any attempt to talk to her. Don’t ask me why. Maybe I was too shy, or maybe I wanted to keep our relationship that way – beautiful, fragile.

            I felt sad when my stay in Vizag came to an end and as I saw my first love, my "Sunrise Sweetheart" walk away from me on my last morning at the beach.
That evening, I stood on the railway platform and scanned the passenger list on the reservation chart pasted on the First Class coach of the Express train - the night train to Hyderabad.

         No matter how many times I begin a train journey; there is always an intriguing interest in seeing who one’s fellow-passengers are. I was in coupe compartment ‘E’. The other berth had been reserved in the name of a Mr Rao – Male Age 58. Bad luck, as usual. Might as well pick up a book. I went to the bookstall and bought a paperback – ‘Great Short Stories’.  The cover was attractive and the title appealed to me. I wondered how Short Stories could be called ‘Great’.
            The train started, but there was no sign of Mr. Rao. I opened the book and started reading. The ticket collector entered. He checked my ticket and said, “The other passenger has not come. I will adjust you in some other compartment.”
            “But why should I shift?” I asked.

            “There is a single lady on the waiting list. I don’t know where to put her,” the ticket collector explained.
            Suddenly she entered. My heart skipped a beat. What a coincidence! It was she – My ‘Sunrise Sweetheart’. She gave me a warm friendly smile.
            The ticket collector stood up and spoke to her, Please sit here for the time being, madam. I shall try and shift the gentleman to some other compartment in case there is a vacant berth.”
            “It’s okay,” she said.  “We know each other. We’ll travel together.”

            The ticket collector looked visibly relieved, thanked her, and went away.
            I stood up and helped her secure her baggage. I offered her the window seat. She sat down and we started talking. I found that she was easy to talk to. I experienced a strange feeling of elation. In these moods, there was so much to say – the words simply came tumbling out. I told her everything about myself. She was a good listener. Time flew. I soon realized that she was looking at me with undisguised affection. She radiated an extraordinary sensuousness. I was aroused. But it was she who made the first move.
            I paused and looked at Sanjiv. His eyes were gleaming in anticipation for the juicy bit. But I was not going to oblige him. It was too personal.

            “Did you get her address?” Sanjiv asked eagerly. 

            “No”, I answered truthfully.

            “What is her name?” 

            “I don’t know,” I lied.

   Of course she had told me her name – Anita – but I wasn’t going to tell him.
            “What did you do in the morning? You two must have at least talked something.”
            “There was no time," I said, “When I woke up she had gone to the toilet. By the time she came back, the train had reached Hyderabad . She said goodbye and got down.” I paused. Then I said hesitantly, “I managed to put the short stories book in her bag when she had gone to the toilet, as a token of remembrance.”
            Sanjiv laughed, “surely you must have written your name and address on the book; along with your message of thanks and love, of course.”
            “No,” I said. “Frankly, I was feeling quite confused and perplexed, probably scared. And I was in a hurry to confirm my reservation on the connecting train to Mumbai.”
            “You are a bloody dope, a clueless poltroon,” Sanjiv exclaimed with visible disappointment. “She was a long term investment. You are a real dope to have lost her. I wish I was there in your place.”

            Sanjiv prided himself in being a Casanova. He often boasted of his exploits and conquests. As far as I was concerned, I genuinely cherished my one and only experience.

             A man’s first love has an enduring place in his heart. I could never forget Anita; her face, her eyes, her body, the swells and peaks, the nooks and crevices, her touch, her extraordinary sensuousness.
            The flight from New York landed in Mumbai at the unearthly hour of midnight. I was returning to India after a longish stint abroad. Sanjiv received me at the airport. As he drove me home, Sanjiv dropped the first bombshell, “I got married last week. It was a rush affair. Love at first sight. We had to keep it low profile – opposition from both sides, the usual stuff. I just couldn’t inform you.”

              I congratulated him. 

            “What are your plans?” he asked. “Any luck abroad.”

            “I am going to try and find that girl I met on the train,” I said, with genuine nostalgia and yearning, “My first love - Sunrise Sweetheart - hey, Sanjiv, you remember...?”
            Sanjiv burst out laughing, “I didn’t know it was that serious. Maybe my wife can help you. She is from Hyderabad.”

            We reached Sanjiv’s flat.

           The door opened and Anita stood in front of me – bold as brass.

           I froze dumbstruck and stood like a zombie.

           I certainly hadn’t bargained for this.

           Sanjiv and Anita...!

          The coincidence was unbelievable.

           As I started at Anita incredulously, I cannot begin to describe the emotion I felt, but my heart ached and my throat went dry.
Meanwhile, Sanjiv had taken my bag and gone inside. Then I felt a tinge of sadness. A man’s first love fills an enduring place in his heart. I looked into Anita eyes. She pointedly avoided my glance. I kept starting at Anita. She looked ravishing. Her beauty had enhanced with age. Her low-cut blouse, which accentuated the curves of her shapely breasts, made her, look temptingly desirable. Her crumpled sari and dishevelled hair added to her sensuous appeal. But there was not a trace of recognition in her eyes. We just stood there in silence, deafening silence.
            I was at my wits’ end when Sanjiv suddenly appeared and said, “Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t introduce you two. This is Anita – my wife’s best friend. And this,” he said pointing to a young attractive woman who had emerged from the bedroom, “is my wife Rajashree.”
            I cannot begin to describe the bizzare emotions I experienced at that moment but I just burst out laughing.
            “He is a crazy guy,” remarked Sanjiv to the ladies. “Must be the jet lag. Let’s go to sleep. Whatever is left of the night, that is...!”
            I looked at Anita as she walked away. There was still no trace of recognition in her eyes. I felt angry and disappointed. I would tackle her in the morning. I switched off the lights and went to sleep on the sofa in the living room.
            I woke up with a start. I could sense that there was someone standing near me in the darkness. I at once knew who it was.
            “Thanks for the book,” Anita said, and abruptly walked away, vanishing into her room.
            I got up and switched on the lights. The paperback on ‘Great Short Stories’ was lying on the table near the sofa. She had returned my token of remembrance. I wondered whether she was sending me a message - was there still hope or was it all over...?
            I slept late, almost till noon, and as we sat for lunch I noticed that Anita was missing so I enquired about her.
            “She has gone back to Hyderabad by the morning flight,” said Sanjiv.
            Rajashree, Sanjiv’s wife, spoke, “Poor thing. She had come here to Mumbai to see a boy but it didn’t work out. I feel sorry for Anita. She is almost thirty, four years older than me. And she’s still unmarried. Yet she keeps rejecting boys...!”
            “Maybe she is waiting for someone, maybe she hasn’t forgotten her first love” I interjected and said, “Give me her address.”
            “Shall I book you on the evening flight?” asked Sanjiv with a canny smile.
            “No,” I replied, tongue in cheek. “I prefer trains.”
            And I made it to the station just in time to catch the Hyderabad Express.



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.