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THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE – Part 1

April 24, 2010

THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE

Short Fiction – A Love Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE

PART 1

Do you remember the happiest day of your life…?

I do…!

Here’s how it began…

“Excuse me,” a feminine voice said from behind me.

I turned around.

“Mr. Avinash…?” she asked.

I stared blankly at the smart young woman, tongue-tied.

“I’m Sheetal…” she said with a lovely smile.

“Oh, Hi…” I stammered, quickly gathering my wits.

I looked at her.

Avinash had been terribly wrong. This was no podgy pedestrian suburban unpretentious behenji. She was a real beauty, chic, smart, a stunner, and I could not take my eyes off her.

Her eyes were extremely beautiful – enormous, dark, expressive eyes.

And suddenly her eyes began to dance, and seeing my frank look of genuine admiration, she gave me smile so captivating that I experienced a delightful twinge in my heart.

“You are Mr. Avinash, aren’t you…?” she asked mischievously.

“Yes…” I lied, “How did you recognize me…?”

“You were the only person looking lost and out of place out here…the odd man out…” she laughed vivaciously.

“Oh…” I said unconsciously, mesmerized by her gorgeousness, and by instinct, and almost against my will, I let my eyes linger, travel all over her exquisite body.

“Hey…are you going to stare at me all day or should we grab a bite…I am hungry…” she said playfully.

“Yes…yes…” I said.

“Okay…come…let’s go to Samovar…we can talk there in peace too…” she said, and led me from the art gallery to the restaurant in the veranda.

Thus began the happiest day of my life. Dear Reader, please permit me to tell you a little bit about how it all started and to tell you this story I am going to transport you backwards into the past, yes, we are going more than 30 years back in time, to the late 1970s, when Pune was a Pensioners’ Paradise.

Yes, my Dear Reader, Pune, the Queen of the Deccan, in the 1960s and 1970s, with its lovely climate, pure fresh air, lush green environs, salubrious, spacious and friendly laid back atmosphere, was indeed a “paradise” – the best city to live in.

Imagine a Pune without Malls and the Multiplexes, with hardly any traffic on the roads, when the bicycle was the popular mode of travel; the nearest “city” was Mumbai and the best way of getting there was by the railways, by charming trains like the Deccan Queen, enjoying the scenic beauty of the lush green Sahayadri Ghats while savouring the delicious breakfast served by the restaurant car, since there was no expressway and it sometimes took six hours to drive down as the road through the Khandala Ghats was quite treacherous.

Just imagine – there were no mobile cell-phones, no internet, no PCs, no STD [one had to book trunk-calls] and Black and White Television had just arrived and was a novelty.

The main thing was that there was no internet, and hence no email, and one had to write letters and send them via post as there were no courier services either.

And of course, social interaction was face to face, relishing yummy bhel in the numerous picturesque parks, or over tea, in the Amruttulayas, Irani cafes and Kattas, as there was no facebook, no orkut, no chatting, and no blogging, nothing…and by the way, back then, the concept of “cyberspace” did not exist…

Those days, a B. Tech. from an IIT did not get you a huge pay packet – yes, it sure ensured that you got a good job, but once you were in the job you were on par with the other guys from various Engineering Colleges.

Yes, only guys did engineering then, maybe there were a few gals, the rare exceptions, but I hardly met any pursuing a career as an engineer, maybe most of them got married, or shifted to softer professions.

My IIT Classmate Avinash and I joined a premier engineering company located in the suburbs of Pune.

Well that was the trend at IITs those days – either you went abroad, to America, to pursue higher studies, or got a good job in the campus interview in a prestigious engineering firm, unless you were one of those few who preferred to be a white-collared manager via the MBA route [way back then there were hardly any management institutes, I think maybe there was just one IIM or maybe two, and FMS at Delhi and a Jamnalal Bajaj at Mumbai].

But the majority of engineers studied engineering to practice engineering, so we were quite happy to hit the shop floor doing hard core engineering.

We worked hard, for six days a week including Sundays, and had our off on Thursdays – the industrial holiday.

We rented a house near Deccan Gymkhana from where we commuted to work and back by the company bus.

Life was good.

It was easy to be happy. Our threshold of happiness was so low that small things made us happy. Like a relaxed chat over a cup of tea.

Yes, every evening after work, we would get down from the bus, relax over a Bun Maska and Chai at Café Good Luck or Lucky, and then walk down to our place on Bhandarkar Road nearby.

One of our most enjoyable highlights was our weekly Thursday visit to Pune Camp – to see the latest Hollywood Movie in royal style relaxing on those unique easy chairs at the inimitable West End Cinema, relishing tasty mouth-watering bites and soothing thirst-quenching sips at the Soda Fountain during the interval, followed by delectable Mutton Samosas, Bun Maska and refreshing Irani style Chai at Naaz, then a leisurely stroll on Main Street [MG Road] and East Street, window-shopping, bird-watching and snacking, sandwiches and cold coffee at Marz-o-rin, maybe a browse at Manney’s bookstore, and then a hearty Chinese meal at Kamling or Chung Fa, or a Mughlai repast at Latif, or Punjabi Food at Kwality, Biryani at Dorabjee or George, or Sizzlers at The Place [arguably the first Sizzler Place in India] next to Manney’s. And then a Meetha Masala Pan at George to carry home the lingering flavour and fragrance of the delightful evening.

When there are two close friends, one assumes the role of a leader and the other a follower. Amongst us, Avinash, a tall, strapping, confident, flamboyant, handsome man endowed with an excellent physique with a dominating personality, was the natural leader.

“Shekhar,” Avinash said to me one Wednesday evening while we were sipping chai at Good Luck, “Shekhar…I want you to do me a favour…”

“What…”? I asked.

“Go down to Mumbai tomorrow and see a girl in my place…” he said.

I looked at him, confused.

“It’s like this yaar…there is some behenji type girl from my place my parents want me to see…she is working in Mumbai…I am least interested… so you go and see her and come back…and I’ll tell my parents I didn’t like her…” he said.

“But why don’t you go…?” I asked.

“Listen yaar…I’ve managed to patao a solid cheez I met her during that management course in Lonavala I’d gone for last week…” he said.

“But you didn’t tell me…” I said.

Arre Bhai…kuch hone to do…but uske liye you’ll have to help me out…I’ve fixed up a solid date with her tomorrow taking her for a drive on my bike around Lonavala and Khandala…we planned it during the course…and suddenly my mom rang up in the office this morning… please yaar Shekhar …just go to Mumbai tomorrow and see the girl…” Avinash said.

“But how…?” I protested.

“I have already booked your ticket both ways by Deccan Queen…just go in the morning and come back in the evening…this back home type is called Sheetal and she will meet you in the Jehangir Art Gallery at eleven…”

“But how can I masquerade as you…she must be having your photo…I’ll get caught…” I said.

“There is no photo, nothing…she doesn’t know how I look like and I don’t know how she looks like…it all happened so suddenly…just our parents got talking back home last evening and my mother rang up this morning to go and see the girl tomorrow as the girl is going back to her hometown in the mofussil near our place by tomorrow evening’s train…” he said.

“No…No…I am not going…the whole thing is preposterous…I can’t do this…” I said.

Yaar please…don’t ditch me…I have already sent her a telegram to meet at 11 AM in Jehangir Art Gallery…” he said.

“I don’t understand all this…” I said.

“My mother said her office is in Kalaghoda…so this is the nearest and best place…there they work on Thursdays… only we here have industrial off…so they fixed up tomorrow…as she has to leave for her place in the evening on holiday…don’t argue…just get it over with…after you come back I’ll ring up  my mom tomorrow evening and tell her I didn’t like the girl and the whole thing is a closed chapter…” Avinash said, putting his arm around my shoulder, “aur Shekhar, agar mera Lonavala wali se jugad fit baith gaya to I’ll give you a big treat…”

So, next morning I boarded the Deccan Queen to Mumbai….

To be continued…

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010

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

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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


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Mr. and Mrs. X and the Baby

April 23, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. X and the Baby

Fiction Short Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE

(Dear Readers, this is a fiction short story, purely apocryphal, with a message for young working couples on the threshold of matrimony)

Mr. and Mrs. X desperately wanted to have a baby.

So they tried very hard to have a baby.

Poor Mr. and Mrs. X, they tried and tried, all by themselves, but they couldn’t have a baby.

And as time flew, and the biological clock ticked away, Mr. and Mrs. X became more and more anxious, and so with resolute perseverance, they put everything at stake, made determined efforts, consulted the best doctors in town, spent huge amounts of money on the best and most sophisticated infertility treatments possible, tried all sorts of things, exoteric and esoteric, left no stone unturned, struggled and struggled, with dogged persistence, till, at long last, at the age of 35, Mrs. X conceived, and after a difficult, delicate, grueling, backbreaking, anxious, harrowing  pregnancy, she overcame all sorts of complications, and finally, after enduring for nine long months, successfully delivered a beautiful bonny baby.

Everyone was delighted – the parents, having proved their mettle, the doctors, on the success of their treatment, the grandparents that the family lineage was preserved, the soothsayers, the relatives, the friends – everybody.

Three months later I happened to be in town and decided to visit Mr. and Mrs. X and their bonny baby.

On the way, at the jewellers, I bought a gold ornament as a present for the bonny baby.

I found my way to their classy house in an elite condominium located in the most posh and exclusive neighbourhood of the city.

I felt a tinge of envy thinking about Mr. and Mrs. X, the young IT whiz kids, who could achieve such expensive luxuries and an ostentatious living style so early in life.

The proud grandparents opened the door.

The baby, on her grandmother’s lap, looked cute, very cute and cuddly.

The baby’s parents, the young mother and father, were conspicuous by their absence.

It was late evening and I had expected Mr. and Mrs. X to be at home, doting upon their adorable little baby, so curious I asked, “Where is the young mother?”

“At work,” the grandfather answered.

“Oh… the young mother is already back at work…? So fast…? But I’ll wait for her – she should be back home soon, isn’t it…?” I asked looking at the wall clock.

“No! No! She won’t be coming for at least six months now. She’s gone abroad, to the States, on an important project,” said the proud grandmother, cuddling and mothering the baby.

“And Mr. X, the proud father, he’ll be coming…” I asked.

“He’s in Singapore. He got a fantastic job offer the day the baby was born,” said the grandfather.

“You know, the baby has proved real lucky for them. Her mother got promoted as project leader, a hefty raise and this foreign assignment and her father got this fabulous job offer in Singapore,” said the proud grandmother, cuddling the baby, who suddenly started to cry.

“It’s her feed-time,” the grandmother said, handing over the baby to the grandfather, and she went to the kitchen to warm up the baby’s milk.

“It’s good,” the grandfather said lovingly fondling the bonny baby, “for all these years when they were trying so hard to have this baby, they had put their careers on the back-burner; now that they have got their baby, they can focus on their careers once again.”

The grandmother came out with the milk bottle and began feeding the bonny baby while the doting grandfather lovingly looked on.

I looked at the grandparents – the surrogate parents – and the baby – the light of their lives, their raison d’etre, probably their reason for living and certainly the source of all their present happiness.

As I said earlier, this is a fiction short story, purely apocryphal, with a message for younger readers on the threshold of matrimony.

Any Comments…?

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010

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

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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

INFATUATION LOVE and MARRIAGE

April 15, 2010

INFATUATION LOVE and MARRIAGE

Short Fiction – A Love Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE

“I want to have a word with you…”

“Later. I’m busy…”

“No. I want to talk to you right now…”

“Not now. Please. We’ll talk at lunch break. I have a deadline to meet…”

“I told you I want to talk to you now. It’s urgent…”

“What’s so urgent…?”

“It’s about Nisha…”

“Nisha…?”

“Just lay off…”

“Lay off…?”

“You took Nisha out to a movie and dinner last evening, didn’t you…?”

“So…?”

“So nothing… You just stop seeing her… I don’t like it…”

“You don’t like it…? Who the hell are you to like it or not…?

“Who the hell am I…? Nisha is my girl…she is mine…We are in love…”

“Love…? Nisha loves you…? Bullshit…! Go and look at your face in the mirror… Is she crazy to love a clot like you…?”

“You just shut up… And just lay off Nisha…I don’t want you too see Nisha or even talk to her ever again…understand…I am warning you…”

“Warning…? Hey Dude… just buzz off…I like Nisha and she likes me and we are seeing each other…It is you who has got to vamoose…Got it…? So just get lost and let me get on with my work…I told you I have a deadline…”

“I’ll break your…”

“Hey, what are you doing…? Just take your hands off me…this is the office…”

“Okay, I’ll meet you in the evening… outside office… and sort you out…”

“Sort me out…? You sissy…I’ll thrash the hell out of you……

Hey, look…Nisha is coming here…”

“Hi guys…I was just coming to meet both of you…and I find you together…what a coincidence…”

“Meet us…?”

“I’ve got some great news…I am getting married…”

“You are getting married…?”

“He lives abroad…works in the states…in Houston…he is a childhood friend…my classmate from school…we had lost touch with each other…he found me on the net on FB a few days ago…we chatted…he proposed this morning…I said yes…”

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.

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

vikramkarve@sify.com

One Night Stand – It Just Happened

April 13, 2010

ONE NIGHT STAND

Flash Fiction – A Love Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE

The terrifying nightmare grew.

It was just one revolving pattern of flames; with inhuman sounds coming at him form every angle. When he tried to use his limbs, nothing happened. He looked down at his legs and saw that the left one was hanging like a piece of bloody sack. He felt the searing crash of metal into his body. And heard himself screaming as the blaze engulfed him………

There was another voice now – a different voice.

He sat up violently in the pitch darkness, fighting the blanket.

Then he realized that the door was partly open and he could see a pale figure in the light from the corridor.

“Are you all right?” she entered the room. “I’m sorry, but you were screaming.”

Trying to steady his breathing, he said, “Bit of a bad dream; that’s all.”

She sat down on the bed, and said, “I was shaken scared by your dream. It must have been a terrible dream.”

“Yes,” he said, and ran one hand over his wet face.

She reached out and touched his shoulder. “Lie back now. Try to relax. I’ll go and let you sleep.”

He looked up at her and pleaded, “Don’t go. Please don’t go…”

He took her hand and pressed gently.

At first there was no answering pressure.

Then she pressed back.

She touched his hair with her other hand.

He could feel the want churning inside him like fire.

He moved his hand and touched her skin.

“No,” she said quietly. “We’d better stop now.”

He pulled her gently beside him, feeling the yearning like a physical pain.

She did not resist.

Then all at once she was helping him.

They made love.

First with tenderness; then gradually building up to a passionate frenzy as they both become rough and hard, demanding more of each other, till they lay exhausted, their limbs still entangled.

He lay in bed in self-commiseration, wondering why it had happened.

His train of thoughts spiralled into an abyss as he thought about his agonising loneliness, the frightening, corrosive loneliness of his life, the terrifying nightmare, the frenzied act…

Was it an impulsive reckless act of love…? Or wild rage…? Or was it a desperate act of expiration…?

The whole thing suddenly seemed sordid.

He turned towards her and started to say, “I am so………….”

She instantly put her hand on his mouth and said “Please don’t say it. What happened just happened.”

He closed his eyes, and when he opened them again he saw her standing near the door.

“It was good of you to come,” he said.

“Yes,” she said.

She quietly stepped out of the room, closed the door, and walked away from his life forever.

ONE NIGHT STAND

Short Fiction – A Love 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.

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

vikramkarve@sify.com

VOLATILE MARRIAGE AMICABLE DIVORCE

February 17, 2010

VOLATILE MARRIAGE AMICABLE DIVORCE

Fiction Short Story

By

VIKRAM KARVE

A cell-phone rings at 9 o’clock in the morning in an apartment in Pune.

The husband picks up, pauses for a moment as if hearing something, and says, “Don’t worry, I’ll be there on time,” and then he switches off the mobile phone and keeps it in his pocket.

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…? What important thing…? Where are you going…?” the wife persists.

The husband does not want to tell her but he knows now that he has no choice but to tell her. He knows his wife’s nature so well – she is not going to rest till she finds out. She will nag him to death until he tells her.

So he decides to tell her the bare minimum.

“I am going to the Family Court,” he says.

“Family Court…? Why…?” his wife shrieks in amazement.

“A divorce case,” the husband says nonchalantly.

“Divorce case…? You are filing a divorce case…? You are trying to divorce me behind my back…?” the wife yells hysterically.

“Will you please be quiet and listen…? It’s not us. Pooja has asked me to come for the hearing.”

“Pooja…? Who is this 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 case…? Pooja…? She 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 has called me just to give her emotional support…”

“Emotional support…? From you…? This Pooja needs emotional support from you…? Why you…? Tell me…why 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…please calm down and don’t jump to conclusions. Pooja is 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…that’s all…”

“Compassion…? Comapssion, my foot…! This compassion may soon turn into passion…!” the wife says sarcastically, “I tell you…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. I’m going just to help out a colleague…”

“Oh, yes. 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 exasperated.
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 in Aundh towards the Family Court in city.

“It’s divorce by mutual consent.”

“Mutual consent…? What nonsense…! There must be some other reason.”

“No. They have just agreed to separate.”

“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 Pooja that…!” the husband says irritated.

“Of course I will. And I’ll give a piece of my mind to her husband too and tell him to stop harassing his wife.”

“Please…I beg you…for heaven’s sake don’t say anything stupid and embarrasing to them over there. He is not harassing her. They are parting amicably, as friends. I told you, it is an amicable divorce by mutual consent…”

“What nonsense…? Amicable divorce by mutual consent…! 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…! It’s all nonsense, a cover up… Amicable Divorce is a big lie – an oxymoron.”

“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 am sure they can remain married and be friends, isn’t it…?”

“I don’t know. Please let’s talk something else.”

“I am sure there is something fishy…”

“Will you please keep quiet and let me drive the car in peace…?”

“What’s her husband’s name…?”

“Abhishek.”

“See… Pooja and Abhishek… even their names are compatible,” the wife says, I am certain that 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…? She is close to you…? Oh, My God…! I hope it’s not you…?”

“Me…? Will you please shut up…? I told you it is mutual incompatibility…!”

“Mutual Incompatibility my foot…! Let me tell you there is no one in this world who is more mutually 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…you want to divorce me 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 then I will follow you as a ghost and even to heaven after that…”

They drive in silence for a while and then the wife asks, “Has she got any children…?”

“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 they want to separate…”

“Marriage is not supposed to be cordial and cold,” the wife says lovingly, snuggling up affectionately to her long-married husband.

“I’ve realized one thing,” says the husband dotingly hugging his much-married wife.

“What…?”

“The opposite of love is not hate – it is indifference.”

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.

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

vikramkarve@sify.com

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