(a fiction short story )  by


    The phone rings at 9 o’clock in the morning in an apartment in Pune. The husband picks up, pauses a moment as if hearing something, and says, “Don’t worry, I’ll be there on time,” and replaces the phone.   

He then shouts to his wife, who is in the kitchen: “I’m going out for some work. I’ll be back around one thirty or two for lunch.”   “Where are you going? You’ve taken leave today. Let’s go shopping; and then for lunch and a movie.”   

“Please. Not today. I’ve taken leave just for this important thing.”   “Important thing? Where are you going?” the wife persists.   

The husband knows now that he has no choice but to tell her. He knows his wife’s nature so well – she’s not going to rest till she finds out. She’ll nag him to death until he tells her.   “I’m going to the Family Court,” he says.   

“Family Court? Why?”   “A divorce case.”   

“Divorce? You’re trying to divorce me behind my back?”   “Please be quiet. It’s not us. Pooja has asked me to come for the hearing.”   

“Pooja?”   “You’ve met her. She’s my colleague at work.”   

“Oh. That Pooja! I knew you always had a soft corner for her.”   “It’s her final divorce hearing today and she’s called me.”   

“Divorce? Pooja? Called you? How are you involved? I hope the divorce is not because of you? I knew you’d do something stupid. You are so gullible you know – got trapped by her and now you are in trouble being summoned by courts. Respectable persons never see the insides of a court in their entire lives.”   “Please keep quiet! You just go on and on! Pooja’s called me just to give her emotional support.”   

“Emotional support? From you?  I knew there was some hanky panky going on. I’m coming with you. Can’t you see what she’s up to?”   “Please. Pooja’s just a colleague going through a rough patch. As a friend, I have to help her out, show her a bit of compassion and kindness.”   

“Compassion? It may soon turn into passion!” the wife says sarcastically, “Drying a divorcee’s tears is one of the most dangerous pastimes for a man, especially a married man.”   “Pastime? I’m not going there for amusement, but to help out a colleague.”   

“An attractive colleague in distress, isn’t it? And our Knight in shining armour is rushing to her aid!”   “Okay. Why don’t you come along and see for yourself,” the husband says. The moment he utters those words he instantly regrets it, but it is too late; his wife has already picked up her purse and is heading towards the door.   

“Why are they divorcing?” the wife asks, as they are driving in their car from their house towards the Family Court.    “It’s divorce by mutual consent.”   

“Mutual consent! What nonsense! There must be some other reason.”   “No. They have just agreed to separate.”   

“If they can agree to separate, why can’t they agree to stay together?”   “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask her that!” the husband says irritated.   

“Of course I will. And I’ll give a piece of my mind to her husband too. Tell him to stop harassing his wife.”   “Please. For heaven’s sake don’t say anything there. They are parting amicably, as friends.”    

“There is no such thing as amicable divorce!” “What do you mean? So many people have amicable divorces now-a-days and part as friends.” 

“Nonsense! Amicable Divorce is a big lie – an oxymoron.” 


“Yes.  Tell me, how can divorce be amicable? If a marriage is really so amicable, why divorce in the first place? If they can divorce and remain friends, I’m sure they can remain married and be friends, isn’t it?” “Maybe. I don’t know.” 

“I am sure there is something fishy.”   

“Will you please keep quiet? I’m driving.”   “What’s her husband’s name?”   

“Abhishek.”   “See! Pooja and Abhishek! Even their names are compatible,” the wife says. “There must be some adultery involved. This Abhishek must be having an affair. Or it must be Pooja. Yes it’s her. I’m sure she is having an affair.”   

“Don’t be stupid. She’s not like that.”   “How do you know?”   

“I know her for so many years now. She’s quite close to me. She’s told me everything.”    “Close to you? My God! I hope it’s not you?”   

“Will you please shut up? I told you it’s mutual incompatibility.”   “Mutual Incompatibility! My foot! Let me tell you there is no one who is more incompatible than you and me! But are we divorcing?”   

“Why don’t we? At least I’ll have some peace and respite from your constant nagging.”   “Ah! So you can marry her, is it? You’ve got a hope in heaven! I’ll cling on to you till my dying day. And follow you even after that.”   

They drive in silence for a while and then the wife asks, “Has she got any kids?”   “Yes. Two. A boy and a girl. In school.”   

“Poor children. What will happen to them?”   “They’ll go off to a boarding school for a while till Pooja settles down.”   

“It’s funny. They’ve got children and are divorcing. We don’t have any children, but we are carrying on together!”   ‘Yes,” the husband says, “I really wonder! We constantly fight but we stay together; and they have such a cordial relationship but want to separate.”   

“Marriage is not supposed to be cordial and cold,” the wife says snuggling up to her husband.   “I’ve realized one thing,” says the husband.   

“What?”   “The opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference.”   


Copyright 2006 Vikram Karve 

  vikramkarve@sify.com vikramkarve@hotmail.com 







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