Sunday, July 24, 2011

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 12 – THE SECRET LI...

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 12 – THE SECRET LI...:

"MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 12 – THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY By VIKRAM KARVE “Just as science helps man to understand nature, ..."

Please click the link above and read on my creative writing journal
Regards
Vikram Karve

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 10 – SPY GAME

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 10 – SPY GAME:

MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 10 – SPY GAME By VIKRAM KARVE

Of all my stories that have won prizes at short story contests, this one is my favorite

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 9 – LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER

MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 9 – LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER

Click the link above and read on my creative writing journal

MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 9 – LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER

MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES
Part 9LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER
By
VIKRAM KARVE

At the end of World War II, a number of military men, from the army, navy and air force, who were demobilised and released from active military service, turned to creative writing and many achieved great success and fame as writers and novelists – Alistair MacLean, Nicholas Monsarrat, Herman Wouk, James A. Michener, Frederick Forsyth, to name a few, and, not to forget, Roald Dahl, the master storyteller, who not only wrote a large number of inimitable short stories but achieved success as a children’s writer too, especially with his classic book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Roald Dahl was best at suspense, mystery and horror. I love many of his stories, but the one I like the most is his classic story LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER. This is a perfect suspense story told in simple linear style slowly building up the suspense which climaxes with a brilliant ending.

I don’t want to spoil your fun by telling you about the plot, so just go ahead and enjoy LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER. This story is freely available on the internet (just google it or try any search engine or literary site). I am giving a link to the story and, for your convenience, I also pasting the story below (from the url link mentioned):


Lamb to the Slaughter
by
Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps alight-hers and the one by the empty chair opposite. On the sideboard behind her, two tall glasses, soda water, whiskey. Fresh ice cubes in the Thermos bucket.

Mary Maloney was waiting for her husband to come him from work.

Now and again she would glance up at the clock, but without anxiety, merely to please herself with the thought that each minute gone by made it nearer the time when he would come. There was a slow smiling air about her, and about everything she did. The drop of a head as she bent over her sewing was curiously tranquil. Her skin -for this was her sixth month with child-had acquired a wonderful translucent quality, the mouth was soft, and the eyes, with their new placid look, seemed larger darker than before. When the clock said ten minutes to five, she began to listen, and a few moments later, punctually as always, she heard the tires on the gravel outside, and the car door slamming, the footsteps passing the window, the key turning in the lock. She laid aside her sewing, stood up, and went forward to kiss him as he came in.

“Hullo darling,” she said.

“Hullo darling,” he answered.

She took his coat and hung it in the closer. Then she walked over and made the drinks, a strongish one for him, a weak one for herself; and soon she was back again in her chair with the sewing, and he in the other, opposite, holding the tall glass with both hands, rocking it so the ice cubes tinkled against the side.

For her, this was always a blissful time of day. She knew he didn’t want to speak much until the first drink was finished, and she, on her side, was content to sit quietly, enjoying his company after the long hours alone in the house. She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man, and to feel-almost as a sunbather feels the sun-that warm male glow that came out of him to her when they were alone together. She loved him for the way he sat loosely in a chair, for the way he came in a door, or moved slowly across the room with long strides. She loved intent, far look in his eyes when they rested in her, the funny shape of the mouth, and especially the way he remained silent about his tiredness, sitting still with himself until the whiskey had taken some of it away.

“Tired darling?”

“Yes,” he said. “I’m tired,” And as he spoke, he did an unusual thing. He lifted his glass and drained it in one swallow although there was still half of it, at least half of it left.. She wasn’t really watching him, but she knew what he had done because she heard the ice cubes falling back against the bottom of the empty glass when he lowered his arm. He paused a moment, leaning forward in the chair, then he got up and went slowly over to fetch himself another.

“I’ll get it!” she cried, jumping up.

“Sit down,” he said.

When he came back, she noticed that the new drink was dark amber with the quantity of whiskey in it.

“Darling, shall I get your slippers?”

“No.”

She watched him as he began to sip the dark yellow drink, and she could see little oily swirls in the liquid because it was so strong.

“I think it’s a shame,” she said, “that when a policeman gets to be as senior as you, they keep him walking about on his feet all day long.”

He didn’t answer, so she bent her head again and went on with her sewing; bet each time he lifted the drink to his lips, she heard the ice cubes clinking against the side of the glass.

“Darling,” she said. “Would you like me to get you some cheese? I haven’t made any supper because it’s Thursday.”

“No,” he said.

“If you’re too tired to eat out,” she went on, “it’s still not too late. There’s plenty of meat and stuff in the freezer, and you can have it right here and not even move out of the chair.”

Her eyes waited on him for an answer, a smile, a little nod, but he made no sign.

“Anyway,” she went on, “I’ll get you some cheese and crackers first.”

“I don’t want it,” he said.

She moved uneasily in her chair, the large eyes still watching his face. “But you must eat! I’ll fix it anyway, and then you can have it or not, as you like.”

She stood up and placed her sewing on the table by the lamp.

“Sit down,” he said. “Just for a minute, sit down.”

It wasn’t till then that she began to get frightened.

“Go on,” he said. “Sit down.”

She lowered herself back slowly into the chair, watching him all the time with those large, bewildered eyes. He had finished the second drink and was staring down into the glass, frowning.

“Listen,” he said. “I’ve got something to tell you.”

“What is it, darling? What’s the matter?”

He had now become absolutely motionless, and he kept his head down so that the light from the lamp beside him fell across the upper part of his face, leaving the chin and mouth in shadow. She noticed there was a little muscle moving near the corner of his left eye.

“This is going to be a bit of a shock to you, I’m afraid,” he said. “But I’ve thought about it a good deal and I’ve decided the only thing to do is tell you right away. I hope you won’t blame me too much.”

And he told her. It didn’t take long, four or five minutes at most, and she say very still through it all, watching him with a kind of dazed horror as he went further and further away from her with each word.

“So there it is,” he added. “And I know it’s kind of a bad time to be telling you, bet there simply wasn’t any other way. Of course I’ll give you money and see you’re looked after. But there needn’t really be any fuss. I hope not anyway. It wouldn’t be very good for my job.”

Her first instinct was not to believe any of it, to reject it all. It occurred to her that perhaps he hadn’t even spoken, that she herself had imagined the whole thing. Maybe, if she went about her business and acted as though she hadn’t been listening, then later, when she sort of woke up again, she might find none of it had ever happened.

“I’ll get the supper,” she managed to whisper, and this time he didn’t stop her.

When she walked across the room she couldn’t feel her feet touching the floor. She couldn’t feel anything at all- except a slight nausea and a desire to vomit. Everything was automatic now-down the steps to the cellar, the light switch, the deep freeze, the hand inside the cabinet taking hold of the first object it met. She lifted it out, and looked at it. It was wrapped in paper, so she took off the paper and looked at it again.

A leg of lamb.

All right then, they would have lamb for supper. She carried it upstairs, holding the thin bone-end of it with both her hands, and as she went through the living-room, she saw him standing over by the window with his back to her, and she stopped.

“For God’s sake,” he said, hearing her, but not turning round. “Don’t make supper for me. I’m going out.”

At that point, Mary Maloney simply walked up behind him and without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head.

She might just as well have hit him with a steel club.

She stepped back a pace, waiting, and the funny thing was that he remained standing there for at least four or five seconds, gently swaying. Then he crashed to the carpet.

The violence of the crash, the noise, the small table overturning, helped bring her out of he shock. She came out slowly, feeling cold and surprised, and she stood for a while blinking at the body, still holding the ridiculous piece of meat tight with both hands.

All right, she told herself. So I’ve killed him.

It was extraordinary, now, how clear her mind became all of a sudden. She began thinking very fast. As the wife of a detective, she knew quite well what the penalty would be. That was fine. It made no difference to her. In fact, it would be a relief. On the other hand, what about the child? What were the laws about murderers with unborn children? Did they kill then both-mother and child? Or did they wait until the tenth month? What did they do?

Mary Maloney didn’t know. And she certainly wasn’t prepared to take a chance.

She carried the meat into the kitchen, placed it in a pan, turned the oven on high, and shoved t inside. Then she washed her hands and ran upstairs to the bedroom. She sat down before the mirror, tidied her hair, touched up her lops and face. She tried a smile. It came out rather peculiar. She tried again.

“Hullo Sam,” she said brightly, aloud.

The voice sounded peculiar too.

“I want some potatoes please, Sam. Yes, and I think a can of peas.”

That was better. Both the smile and the voice were coming out better now. She rehearsed it several times more. Then she ran downstairs, took her coat, went out the back door, down the garden, into the street.

It wasn’t six o’clock yet and the lights were still on in the grocery shop.

“Hullo Sam,” she said brightly, smiling at the man behind the counter.

“Why, good evening, Mrs. Maloney. How’re you?”

“I want some potatoes please, Sam. Yes, and I think a can of peas.”

The man turned and reached up behind him on the shelf for the peas.

“Patrick’s decided he’s tired and doesn’t want to eat out tonight,” she told him. “We usually go out Thursdays, you know, and now he’s caught me without any vegetables in the house.”

“Then how about meat, Mrs. Maloney?”

“No, I’ve got meat, thanks. I got a nice leg of lamb from the freezer.”

“Oh.”

“I don’t know much like cooking it frozen, Sam, but I’m taking a chance on it this time. You think it’ll be all right?”

“Personally,” the grocer said, “I don’t believe it makes any difference. You want these Idaho potatoes?”

“Oh yes, that’ll be fine. Two of those.”

“Anything else?” The grocer cocked his head on one side, looking at her pleasantly. “How about afterwards? What you going to give him for afterwards?”

“Well-what would you suggest, Sam?”

The man glanced around his shop. “How about a nice big slice of cheesecake? I know he likes that.”

“Perfect,” she said. “He loves it.”

And when it was all wrapped and she had paid, she put on her brightest smile and said, “Thank you, Sam. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Mrs. Maloney. And thank you.”

And now, she told herself as she hurried back, all she was doing now, she was returning home to her husband and he was waiting for his supper; and she must cook it good, and make it as tasty as possible because the poor man was tired; and if, when she entered the house, she happened to find anything unusual, or tragic, or terrible, then naturally it would be a shock and she’d become frantic with grief and horror. Mind you, she wasn’t expecting to find anything. She was just going home with the vegetables. Mrs. Patrick Maloney going home with the vegetables on Thursday evening to cook supper for her husband.

That’s the way, she told herself. Do everything right and natural. Keep things absolutely natural and there’ll be no need for any acting at all.

Therefore, when she entered the kitchen by the back door, she was humming a little tune to herself and smiling.

“Patrick!” she called. “How are you, darling?”

She put the parcel down on the table and went through into the living room; and when she saw him lying there on the floor with his legs doubled up and one arm twisted back underneath his body, it really was rather a shock. All the old love and longing for him welled up inside her, and she ran over to him, knelt down beside him, and began to cry her heart out. It was easy. No acting was necessary.

A few minutes later she got up and went to the phone. She know the number of the police station, and when the man at the other end answered, she cried to him, “Quick! Come quick! Patrick’s dead!”

“Who’s speaking?”

“Mrs. Maloney. Mrs. Patrick Maloney.”

“You mean Patrick Maloney’s dead?”

“I think so,” she sobbed. “He’s lying on the floor and I think he’s dead.”

“Be right over,” the man said.

The car came very quickly, and when she opened the front door, two policeman walked in. She know them both-she know nearly all the man at that precinct-and she fell right into a chair, then went over to join the other one, who was called O’Malley, kneeling by the body.

“Is he dead?” she cried.

“I’m afraid he is. What happened?”

Briefly, she told her story about going out to the grocer and coming back to find him on the floor. While she was talking, crying and talking, Noonan discovered a small patch of congealed blood on the dead man’s head. He showed it to O’Malley who got up at once and hurried to the phone.

Soon, other men began to come into the house. First a doctor, then two detectives, one of whom she know by name. Later, a police photographer arrived and took pictures, and a man who know about fingerprints. There was a great deal of whispering and muttering beside the corpse, and the detectives kept asking her a lot of questions. But they always treated her kindly. She told her story again, this time right from the beginning, when Patrick had come in, and she was sewing, and he was tired, so tired he hadn’t wanted to go out for supper. She told how she’d put the meat in the oven-”it’s there now, cooking”- and how she’d slopped out to the grocer for vegetables, and come back to find him lying on the floor.

Which grocer?” one of the detectives asked.

She told him, and he turned and whispered something to the other detective who immediately went outside into the street.

In fifteen minutes he was back with a page of notes, and there was more whispering, and through her sobbing she heard a few of the whispered phrases-”...acted quite normal...very cheerful...wanted to give him a good supper…peas...cheesecake...impossible that she...”

After a while, the photographer and the doctor departed and two other men came in and took the corpse away on a stretcher. Then the fingerprint man went away. The two detectives remained, and so did the two policeman. They were exceptionally nice to her, and Jack Noonan asked if she wouldn’t rather go somewhere else, to her sister’s house perhaps, or to his own wife who would take care of her and put her up for the night.

No, she said. She didn’t feel she could move even a yard at the moment. Would they mind awfully of she stayed just where she was until she felt better. She didn’t feel too good at the moment, she really didn’t.

Then hadn’t she better lie down on the bed? Jack Noonan asked.

No, she said. She’d like to stay right where she was, in this chair. A little later, perhaps, when she felt better, she would move.

So they left her there while they went about their business, searching the house. Occasionally on of the detectives asked her another question. Sometimes Jack Noonan spoke at her gently as he passed by. Her husband, he told her, had been killed by a blow on the back of the head administered with a heavy blunt instrument, almost certainly a large piece of metal. They were looking for the weapon. The murderer may have taken it with him, but on the other hand he may have thrown it away or hidden it somewhere on the premises.

“It’s the old story,” he said. “Get the weapon, and you’ve got the man.”

Later, one of the detectives came up and sat beside her. Did she know, he asked, of anything in the house that could’ve been used as the weapon? Would she mind having a look around to see if anything was missing-a very big spanner, for example, or a heavy metal vase.

They didn’t have any heavy metal vases, she said.

“Or a big spanner?”

She didn’t think they had a big spanner. But there might be some things like that in the garage.

The search went on. She knew that there were other policemen in the garden all around the house. She could hear their footsteps on the gravel outside, and sometimes she saw a flash of a torch through a chink in the curtains. It began to get late, nearly nine she noticed by the clock on the mantle. The four men searching the rooms seemed to be growing weary, a trifle exasperated.

“Jack,” she said, the next tome Sergeant Noonan went by. “Would you mind giving me a drink?”

“Sure I’ll give you a drink. You mean this whiskey?”

“Yes please. But just a small one. It might make me feel better.”

He handed her the glass.

“Why don’t you have one yourself,” she said. “You must be awfully tired. Please do. You’ve been very good to me.”

“Well,” he answered. “It’s not strictly allowed, but I might take just a drop to keep me going.”

One by one the others came in and were persuaded to take a little nip of whiskey. They stood around rather awkwardly with the drinks in their hands, uncomfortable in her presence, trying to say consoling things to her. Sergeant Noonan wandered into the kitchen, come out quickly and said, “Look, Mrs. Maloney. You know that oven of yours is still on, and the meat still inside.”

“Oh dear me!” she cried. “So it is!”

“I better turn it off for you, hadn’t I?”

“Will you do that, Jack. Thank you so much.”

When the sergeant returned the second time, she looked at him with her large, dark tearful eyes. “Jack Noonan,” she said.

“Yes?”

“Would you do me a small favor-you and these others?”

“We can try, Mrs. Maloney.”

“Well,” she said. “Here you all are, and good friends of dear Patrick’s too, and helping to catch the man who killed him. You must be terrible hungry by now because it’s long past your suppertime, and I know Patrick would never forgive me, God bless his soul, if I allowed you to remain in his house without offering you decent hospitality. Why don’t you eat up that lamb that’s in the oven. It’ll be cooked just right by now.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Sergeant Noonan said.

“Please,” she begged. “Please eat it. Personally I couldn’t tough a thing, certainly not what’s been in the house when he was here. But it’s all right for you. It’d be a favor to me if you’d eat it up. Then you can go on with your work again afterwards.”

There was a good deal of hesitating among the four policemen, but they were clearly hungry, and in the end they were persuaded to go into the kitchen and help themselves. The woman stayed where she was, listening to them speaking among themselves, their voices thick and sloppy because their mouths were full of meat.

“Have some more, Charlie?”

“No. Better not finish it.”

“She wants us to finish it. She said so. Be doing her a favour.”

“Okay then. Give me some more.”

“That’s the hell of a big club the gut must’ve used to hit poor Patrick,” one of them was saying. “The doc says his skull was smashed all to pieces just like from a sledgehammer.”

“That’s why it ought to be easy to find.”

“Exactly what I say.”

“Whoever done it, they’re not going to be carrying a thing like that around with them longer than they need.”

One of them belched.

“Personally, I think it’s right here on the premises.”

“Probably right under our very noses. What you think, Jack?”

And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle.



Terrific … isn’t it? The murder weapon – “Probably right under our very noses”.

Till now I wrote short fiction. Now I am trying to write a novel. The other day I got stuck – too many characters, too many things happening, too much confusion, I was trying to say too much. I stopped writing and switched on my TV. A movie began. It was the evergreen romantic comedy ROMAN HOLIDAY starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. I watched spellbound – a simple story with just two characters told in a down-to-earth uncomplicated fashion. It is the same with Roald Dahl’s LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER – the way the story is narrated – breathtaking in its simplicity. I have got the hint – that is how I am going to write my novel – simple, so I am redoing my first draft – and whenever I am confused, I will pick up one of my favourite short stories for a clue.

I trust you have read my earlier posts on my favourite stories. In case you haven’t, do read the eight earlier parts of this series MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES. But before you click the links below, please comment and let me know if you liked LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER.


Happy Reading

VIKRAM KARVE

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Dear Reader, if you like reading short stories I am sure you will like the stories in COCKTAIL my recently published collection of 27 short stories about relationships. To know more, please click the link 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. 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. 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


Fiction Short Stories Book



© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

DOBERMAN X Part 2 - DOG AND THE BONE

DOBERMAN X Part 2 - DOG AND THE BONE


DOBERMAN X GIRL Part 2 - DOG AND THE BONE

I am sure you enjoyed the first part of my life story. Here is the second part of the memoirs of Sherry Karve:

DOG AND THE BONE


“Sherry… Sherry… Bone… Bone…”
My father is calling me for playing the “bone-game” but before that let me tell you about my home.
In front 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 because they itch.
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 to chase.
The cats have disappeared though; ever since the day I almost caught one.

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 my father’s favourite Kolhapuri kapshi chappals which were so 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 I did it, maybe by natural instinct, 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 the bone under the pomegranate tree.

When I didn’t find my bone, at first I was confused, maybe it was my neighbour Bruno, but then he was too old for chewy toy bones.

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, it was my mother who had mischievously hidden my bone.

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 if was my turn to find the bone, which I did using my nose and keen sense of smell.

I wondered how they found the bone so fast; till one day I caught them, both my mother and my father, 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 give up searching and go inside and my father asks me to get the bone, I run out and get it, for which I earn a titbit.

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


BONE GAME

Here I am sniffing out a bone hidden by my father and mother in my garden [this was taken long back when I was a small girl]. My Human Papa was just beginning to teach me all the vocabulary - the first word he taught me was DuDu [which means Milk in Marathi] - he used to give me a bowl of Milk and keep saying DuDu DuDu while I drank the milk till I finished. I've a large vocabulary now - I listen to the Human Language, but speak my own Doggie language which my Papa understands. I'll tell you more about that later. Now you have a look at my photos and then please read the second part of my childhood story.


WAITING FOR THE NEWSPAPER BOY
FETCHING THE NEWSPAPER

I am 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 to chase. The cats have disappeared though; ever since the day I almost caught one.
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 sounds.
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 barbed wire and go across to meet my neighbour Sigmund, a five year old pure breed Golden Retriever, in case he is tied outside. He’s an old fogey, quite a boring condescending pompous fellow, and I hate his snooty and snobbish manner, but he’s the only canine company I have so I really don’t have much of a choice. Also, the poor guy is locked inside or tied up most of the time so I have to do my bit to cheer him up. If he’s inside I bark and sometimes he returns my bark, but most of the time he is quite stuck-up and gloomy.
The only time he seemed to be all excited and active, and was desperately chasing me all over, was when I had my first chums a few days ago, but he had no chance as my suddenly overprotective father was guarding me like a shadow, never taking me off the leash when I was outdoors. Those were the only few days he totally restricted my freedom, and when I managed to slip away across the fence once, all hell broke loose, and I was located, chased, captured and soundly scolded for the first time. 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 my father used to specially pamper me and take me for long walks, on a tight leash, keeping an eagle eye and stick ready in his hand for those desperate rowdy rascal mongrels who suddenly appeared from nowhere and used to frantically hang around and follow me, looking at me in a lewd restless manner. Once they even had the gumption to sneak into the compound at night, and growl outside, till my father chased them away.



A SNAP FROM MY CHAPPAL CHEWING DAYS
( HERE I AM JUST A THREE MONTH OLD "BABY")
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 my father’s favourite Kolhapurikapshi chappals which were so 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, maybe it was my neighbour Sigmund, but then he was too old for chewy toy bones. 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? Apart from my mother and father, who I’ve told you about, there are some more humans who live in my house – my sister, my brother, grandmothers, and a grandfather – and I’ll tell you all about them next time. And I’ll also tell you about the long exploratory walks I go on with my father. First we walked on the banks of the Mula River in Aundh, then in the verdant hills and forests of Girinagar and now we walk in the muddy fields of Wakad and play in the park near the Mula. I will tell you a bit more about my childhood pranks too.
I hear my father’s voice again: “Sherry… Sherry… Bone… Bone…”

So he has hidden the bone and I am off to find it…

Till then, Bow Wow…

SHERRY KARVE

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

ARE YOU WAITING FOR THE SWEET CHILLY

ARE YOU WAITING FOR THE SWEET CHILLY

Monday, July 18, 2011

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 5 – A MALEFACTOR

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Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 5 – A MALEFACTOR:


"MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 5 – A MALEFACTOR By VIKRAM KARVE Here is a rather light-hearted and amusing story by Anton Chekhov whic..."

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

THE SOLUTION

THE SOLUTION

THE SOLUTION
Fiction Short Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

“I don’t know how I am going to solve this problem,” Anil said.

Yes, Anil indeed had a big problem on his hands. The problem was his old father. His father had dementia and it was getting worse day by day.

“At first it was okay. We could manage somehow. He used to forget, talk incoherently, have mood swings, get disoriented a bit, needed help doing things – we all tried our best to look after him, my wife, my two kids, all of us did all we could. But now it is becoming impossible,” Anil said.

“I know,” I said, “it must be very difficult for all of you, especially your wife.”

“All these years she really cared for him with love and devotion as if he were her own father. She tolerated his idiosyncrasies, looked after his every need, she has to bathe him, dress him, feed him, even take him to the toilet. Even when he got aggressive with her, she managed to calm him down. But after this morning’s incident she has given me the ultimatum.”

Let me tell you what had happened that morning.

I had gone to Pune Railway Station to receive my daughter who was arriving from Delhi by Duronto Express when I spotted Anil’s father wandering aimlessly on the platform from where the Deccan Queen to Mumbai was about to leave. Suddenly he started walking towards the AC Coach and was about to board the train when I stopped him, caught hold of his hand and pulled him aside. He did not recognize me. He tried to pull his hand free and when I tightened my grip he gestured towards the train and started muttering at me incoherently: “Mumbai … Duty … Mumbai … Duty …” and suddenly he got aggressive and tried to violently break free so I raised an alarm and with the help of some people we overpowered him and then he collapsed and started weeping like a child.

I called up Anil who rushed to the station and we had to literally carry him to the car. Suddenly his condition worsened and it looked like he was having a seizure so we rushed him to hospital where they admitted the old man into the ICU to keep him under observation.

We sat outside the ICU. I felt sad for Anil and his father. Anil and I were “Railway Children” who had grown up together in those typical Railway Townships which adorn big railway junctions all over India. Our fathers, both from the same batch of SCRA, were close friends and we luckily had many postings in the same station, so Anil and I became close friends too. After school we both went to IIT and now both of us lived and worked in Pune. I felt sad for Anil’s father. In the prime of his life he had such a regal commanding personality – and now dementia had reduced him to this misery in his old age.

Soon our wives, a few colleagues and friends arrive and we stand in balcony outside the ICU of the hospital brainstorming to find a solution to the problem.

“I cannot handle him anymore,” Anil’s wife says, “ever since he got this dementia, the last few years have been hell for me. Anil goes out to work, the children go to school, but I have to live with him all the time. I have to do everything, suffer his tantrums, even clean his shit, and now he does this – just runs away from home and gets lost. I can’t take it anymore – I will go crazy.”

“She needs a break,” my wife says to Anil, “why don’t you send him to your sister’s place for a few days?”

“His sister?” Anil’s wife says mockingly, “as long as her father was fine she was the doting daughter ensuring that she got her share in his property. Now that he is sick, she is shirking her responsibility and has washed her hands off him. The last time she visited us I asked her to take her father to her house in Mumbai for a few days so that we could get some respite and do you know what her husband said? He said that he didn’t want an insane man in his house as it would affect his children. So I asked him: what about our children? And Anil’s sister just kept quiet. After that they haven’t shown up. I hate her. All she does is call up once in a while and then tell the whole world how concerned she is.”

“That’s really very sad but even today it is the sons who are expected to look after their parents, especially the eldest son” someone says, and asks Anil, “You have a brother?”

“He is abroad, in America.”

“That’s the best thing to do. Escape abroad to a good life in America and forget about your parents.”

“Longevity is increasing and these old people are becoming a big problem. In our colony almost everyone’s kids are in America and their hapless parents spend a lonely existence with all sorts of health problems.”

“Don’t worry, Sir. At least your father is not as bad as my neighbour. The poor man’s brain cells are dying and he is lying like a vegetable for the last six months with tubes inserted to feed him and take his stuff out,” the recently joined software engineer tries to console Anil thinking that if she tells Anil of someone with a greater misfortune maybe he will feel some consolation but unfortunately it has the opposite effect and Anil asks her, Did he have dementia? Will my father also become a vegetable?”

“No, nothing of that sort will happen. Your Dad will be okay,” I say putting my hand on Anil’s shoulder.

“But we can’t keep your father at home in this condition. I cannot bear it any longer. I will just collapse one day. And now he has started getting aggressive. I am scared. ” Anil’s wife says.

“Why can’t we keep in hospital?” my wife asks.

“We can’t keep him in this hospital forever,” I say.

“Not this hospital.”

“Then which hospital?”

“An institution. Where they can treat his mental problems.”

“A mental hospital? You want me to put my father into a lunatic asylum?” Anil says getting angry, “My father is not a lunatic, he has not gone mad. Poor fellow has just got dementia for which there is no cure.”

“Cool down Anil,” I say, “she didn’t mean to hurt you.”

My wife says sorry to Anil and we sit quietly till the Intensivist calls us and says, “He has stabilized now. All parameters are okay. We will move him to a special room later at night and keep him under observation. You can go home and relax now. We will look after him. You can take him home tomorrow morning.”

“You all go home,” Anil says, “I will stay with him in hospital and bring him home in the morning.”

“No,” Anil’s wife says, “I don’t want him to come home. You arrange something…”

The Intensivist looks at her quite perplexed, so I gesture to him that all is well and say to Anil, “Okay, you stay here and we will all go home and think of some solution.”

On our way home we pick up Anil’s kids and take all of them to our place. Anil’s wife sleeps in our bedroom with my wife, all the kids sleep in their room and I lie down on the sofa trying to think of a solution to Anil’s problem.

The ring of my mobile jolts me out my sleep. It is Anil. His voice sounds strange, shaky, and he cries incoherently, “The problem has been solved…the problem has been solved… my father is dead…while they were shifting him from the ICU to the ward, he got violent, the stretcher tumbled, he fell on head, broke his neck and died on the spot.”

“Oh My God,” I say, but I can still hear Anil sobbing, “Poor man. He must have heard us. So he solved the problem, his problem, our problem, everyone’s problem…” and then I can hear Anil breaking down into tears.

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 stories in my recently published book COCKTAIL comprising twenty seven short stories about relationships. To know more please click the links below:
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Cheers
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. 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. 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.
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