Thursday, December 18, 2014

A STORY FOR SHERRY

A STORY FOR SHERRY
By
VIKRAM KARVE

There are times when you want to talk to someone. 

You want to unburden yourself of your sorrows.

You want to cry on someone’s shoulder.

You want to tell someone your sob story.

You want to get something off our chest

You desperately want to talk to someone.

And you realize that there is no one willing to listen to you. 

In today’s busy world, you are lonely in a crowd. 

You want to talk to someone, but there is no one to talk to. 

What do you do in these circumstances? 

Whenever I faced such a situation – there was always one person who I could talk to – someone who would to listen to me – Sherry – yes, my pet dog Sherry was always ready to lend me her ear, to empathise with me.

For 3 years, I lived all alone in a huge desolate “bhoot bangla” in the forests of Girinagar – and the only companion I had was my pet dog Sherry. 

Things were not very happy at work, and sadly I had hardly any friends in that remote place who I could talk to and unburden myself.

So, I talked to Sherry.

Yes, those days I talked to Sherry for hours – and Sherry listened sympathetically to my woes – and even talked back to me. 

Yes, Sherry always listened to me, with understanding and empathy, talked back to me, and I felt my pain ease, my distress dissolve away, and soon I was back in a good mood. 

I was in a similar situation after my retirement  for the last 4 years I am alone with Sherry during the daytime when my wife goes to work. 

So, for the past few years, my pet dog Sherry was the only person available to whom I could talk to and unburden myself.

Whenever I was overwhelmed by such moments, and talked to my pet dog Sherry, a beautiful short story by Anton Chekhov came to to my mind. 


The story depicts the overwhelming grief of a distraught father who has just lost his only son and his forlorn attempts to share his anguish with strangers.

The grief-stricken father, Iona, wants to tell someone about his son, describe every last detail of his son's illness to his death and funeral. He wants to tell someone all these things yet no one will listen. 

At the end of the day, the heartbroken man unburdens his sorrows by talking to his horse. He pours his heart out to his little white mare. 

Unlike the human beings he has fruitlessly tried to talk to, his faithful horse listens to his sorrow and commiserates, or so it seems to the old man. 

And having found a sympathetic listener, the despairing father tell his horse everything to lighten himself of his inner pain.

The story takes a powerful look at the lack of human involvement and compassion towards one man's grief. 

Iona tries unsuccessfully, three times, to find an outlet to his pain. 

Only resorting to the faithful ear of his horse, does Iona reach resignation from the death of his son. 

After having read Misery”, and seen the harshness of human behavior, you are forced to take an introspective look at your own attitude regarding the sensitivity of others. 

Anton Chekhov is a master at insightful studies of human behaviour. 

And even though his stories were written over a century ago, they are timeless classics, in that the moral value can still be carried on into our own present lives.

This famous story by Anton Chekhov is freely available for reading online on the internet. I have read translations of this story under many titles – Heartache, To Whom Shall I Tell My Sorrow, Misery et al. 

Unfortunately, something very distressing happened yesterday.

My pet dog Sherry suddenly died yesterday morning.

Sherry passed away and left for her heavenly abode.

Now, to whom shall I tell my sorrows? 

Maybe I will still talk” to Sherry.

And, maybe, she will listen to me up there in heaven.

I dedicate this poignant story to my beloved Sherry.

Given below is the link to Misery (To Whom Shall I Tell My Grief) by Anton Chekhov, and, for your convenience, I have also pasted the story from the url mentioned below for you to read.



The twilight of evening. Big flakes of wet snow are whirling lazily about the street lamps, which have just been lighted, and lying in a thin soft layer on roofs, horses' backs, shoulders, caps. Iona Potapov, the sledge-driver, is all white like a ghost. He sits on the box without stirring, bent as double as the living body can be bent. If a regular snowdrift fell on him it seems as though even then he would not think it necessary to shake it off. . . . His little mare is white and motionless too. Her stillness, the angularity of her lines, and the stick-like straightness of her legs make her look like a halfpenny gingerbread horse. She is probably lost in thought. Anyone who has been torn away from the plough, from the familiar gray landscapes, and cast into this slough, full of monstrous lights, of unceasing uproar and hurrying people, is bound to think.

It is a long time since Iona and his nag have budged. They came out of the yard before dinnertime and not a single fare yet. But now the shades of evening are falling on the town. The pale light of the street lamps changes to a vivid color, and the bustle of the street grows noisier.

"Sledge to Vyborgskaya!" Iona hears. "Sledge!"

Iona starts, and through his snow-plastered eyelashes sees an officer in a military overcoat with a hood over his head.

"To Vyborgskaya," repeats the officer. "Are you asleep? To Vyborgskaya!"

In token of assent Iona gives a tug at the reins which sends cakes of snow flying from the horse's back and shoulders. The officer gets into the sledge. 

The sledge-driver clicks to the horse, cranes his neck like a swan, rises in his seat, and more from habit than necessity brandishes his whip. The mare cranes her neck, too, crooks her stick-like legs, and hesitatingly sets of. . . .
"Where are you shoving, you devil?" Iona immediately hears shouts from the dark mass shifting to and fro before him. "Where the devil are you going? Keep to the r-right!"

"You don't know how to drive! Keep to the right," says the officer angrily.

A coachman driving a carriage swears at him; a pedestrian crossing the road and brushing the horse's nose with his shoulder looks at him angrily and shakes the snow off his sleeve. Iona fidgets on the box as though he were sitting on thorns, jerks his elbows, and turns his eyes about like one possessed as though he did not know where he was or why he was there.

"What rascals they all are!" says the officer jocosely. "They are simply doing their best to run up against you or fall under the horse's feet. They must be doing it on purpose."

Iona looks as his fare and moves his lips. . . . Apparently he means to say something, but nothing comes but a sniff.

"What?" inquires the officer.

Iona gives a wry smile, and straining his throat, brings out huskily: "My son . . . er . . . my son died this week, sir."

"H'm! What did he die of?"

Iona turns his whole body round to his fare, and says:

"Who can tell! It must have been from fever. . . . He lay three days in the hospital and then he died. . . . God's will."

"Turn round, you devil!" comes out of the darkness. "Have you gone cracked, you old dog? Look where you are going!"

"Drive on! drive on! . . ." says the officer. "We shan't get there till to-morrow going on like this. Hurry up!"

The sledge-driver cranes his neck again, rises in his seat, and with heavy grace swings his whip. Several times he looks round at the officer, but the latter keeps his eyes shut and is apparently disinclined to listen. Putting his fare down at Vyborgskaya, Iona stops by a restaurant, and again sits huddled up on the box. . . . Again the wet snow paints him and his horse white. One hour passes, and then another. . . .

Three young men, two tall and thin, one short and hunchbacked, come up, railing at each other and loudly stamping on the pavement with their goloshes.

"Cabby, to the Police Bridge!" the hunchback cries in a cracked voice. "The three of us, . . . twenty kopecks!"

Iona tugs at the reins and clicks to his horse. Twenty kopecks is not a fair price, but he has no thoughts for that. Whether it is a rouble or whether it is five kopecks does not matter to him now so long as he has a fare. . . . The three young men, shoving each other and using bad language, go up to the sledge, and all three try to sit down at once. The question remains to be settled: Which are to sit down and which one is to stand? After a long altercation, ill-temper, and abuse, they come to the conclusion that the hunchback must stand because he is the shortest.

"Well, drive on," says the hunchback in his cracked voice, settling himself and breathing downIona's neck. "Cut along! What a cap you've got, my friend! You wouldn't find a worse one in all Petersburg. . . ."

"He-he! . . . he-he! . . ." laughs Iona. "It's nothing to boast of!"

"Well, then, nothing to boast of, drive on! Are you going to drive like this all the way? Eh? Shall I give you one in the neck?"

"My head aches," says one of the tall ones. "At the Dukmasovs' yesterday Vaska and I drank four bottles of brandy between us."

"I can't make out why you talk such stuff," says the other tall one angrily. 

"You lie like a brute."

"Strike me dead, it's the truth! . . ."

"It's about as true as that a louse coughs."

"He-he!" grins Iona. "Me-er-ry gentlemen!"

"Tfoo! the devil take you!" cries the hunchback indignantly. "Will you get on, you old plague, or won't you? Is that the way to drive? Give her one with the whip. Hang it all, give it her well."

Iona feels behind his back the jolting person and quivering voice of the hunchback. He hears abuse addressed to him, he sees people, and the feeling of loneliness begins little by little to be less heavy on his heart. The hunchback swears at him, till he chokes over some elaborately whimsical string of epithets and is overpowered by his cough. His tall companions begin talking of a certain Nadyezhda Petrovna. Iona looks round at them. Waiting till there is a brief pause, he looks round once more and says:

"This week . . . er. . . my. . . er. . . son died!"

"We shall all die, . . ." says the hunchback with a sigh, wiping his lips after coughing. "Come, drive on! drive on! My friends, I simply cannot stand crawling like this! When will he get us there?"

"Well, you give him a little encouragement . . . one in the neck!"

"Do you hear, you old plague? I'll make you smart. If one stands on ceremony with fellows like you one may as well walk. Do you hear, you old dragon? Or don't you care a hang what we say? "

And Iona hears rather than feels a slap on the back of his neck.

"He-he! . . . " he laughs. "Merry gentlemen . . . . God give you health!"

"Cabman, are you married?" asks one of the tall ones.

"I? He he! Me-er-ry gentlemen. The only wife for me now is the damp earth. . . . He-ho-ho!. . . .The grave that is! . . . Here my son's dead and I am alive. . . . It's a strange thing, death has come in at the wrong door. . . . Instead of coming for me it went for my son. . . ."

And Iona turns round to tell them how his son died, but at that point the hunchback gives a faint sigh and announces that, thank God! they have arrived at last. After taking his twenty kopecks, Iona gazes for a long while after the revelers, who disappear into a dark entry. Again he is alone and again there is silence for him. . . . The misery which has been for a brief space eased comes back again and tears his heart more cruelly than ever. 

With a look of anxiety and suffering Iona's eyes stray restlessly among the crowds moving to and fro on both sides of the street: can he not find among those thousands someone who will listen to him? But the crowds flit by heedless of him and his misery. . . . His misery is immense, beyond all bounds. If Iona's heart were to burst and his misery to flow out, it would flood the whole world, it seems, but yet it is not seen. It has found a hiding-place in such an insignificant shell that one would not have found it with a candle by daylight. . . .

Iona sees a house-porter with a parcel and makes up his mind to address him.

"What time will it be, friend?" he asks.

"Going on for ten. . . . Why have you stopped here? Drive on!"

Iona drives a few paces away, bends himself double, and gives himself up to his misery. He feels it is no good to appeal to people. But before five minutes have passed he draws himself up, shakes his head as though he feels a sharp pain, and tugs at the reins. . . . He can bear it no longer.

"Back to the yard!" he thinks. "To the yard!"

And his little mare, as though she knew his thoughts, falls to trotting. An hour and a half laterIona is sitting by a big dirty stove. On the stove, on the floor, and on the benches are people snoring. The air is full of smells and stuffiness. Iona looks at the sleeping figures, scratches himself, and regrets that he has come home so early. . . .

"I have not earned enough to pay for the oats, even," he thinks. "That's why I am so miserable. A man who knows how to do his work, . . . who has had enough to eat, and whose horse has had enough to eat, is always at ease..."

In one of the corners a young cabman gets up, clears his throat sleepily, and makes for the water-bucket.

"Want a drink?" Iona asks him.

"Seems so."

"May it do you good. . . . But my son is dead, mate. . . . Do you hear? This week in the hospital. . . . It's a queer business. . . ."

Iona looks to see the effect produced by his words, but he sees nothing. The young man has covered his head over and is already asleep. The old man sighs and scratches himself. . . . Just as the young man had been thirsty for water, he thirsts for speech. His son will soon have been dead a week, and he has not really talked to anybody yet . . . . He wants to talk of it properly, with deliberation. . . . He wants to tell how his son was taken ill, how he suffered, what he said before he died, how he died. . . . He wants to describe the funeral, and how he went to the hospital to get his son's clothes. He still has his daughter Anisya in the country. . . . And he wants to talk about her too. . . . Yes, he has plenty to talk about now. His listener ought to sigh and exclaim and lament. . . . It would be even better to talk to women. Though they are silly creatures, they blubber at the first word.

"Let's go out and have a look at the mare," Iona thinks. "There is always time for sleep. . . . You'll have sleep enough, no fear. . . ."

He puts on his coat and goes into the stables where his mare is standing. He thinks about oats, about hay, about the weather. . . . He cannot think about his son when he is alone. . . . To talk about him with someone is possible, but to think of him and picture him is insufferable anguish. . . .

"Are you munching?" Iona asks his mare, seeing her shining eyes. "There, munch away, munch away. . . . Since we have not earned enough for oats, we will eat hay. . . . Yes, . . . I have grown too old to drive. . . . My son ought to be driving, not I. . . . He was a real cabman. . . . He ought to have lived. . . ."

Iona is silent for a while, and then he goes on:

"That's how it is, old girl. . . . Kuzma Ionitch is gone. . . . He said good-by to me. . . . He went and died for no reason. . . . Now, suppose you had a little colt, and you were own mother to that little colt. . . . And all at once that same little colt went and died. . . . You'd be sorry, wouldn't you? . . ."

The little mare munches, listens, and breathes on her master's hands. Iona is carried away and tells her all about it.

                     
 -----------------------------------------------------------------


Do reflect on this beautifully narrated yet profound commentary on human behaviour.

Though this story was written more than a hundred years ago, it is a timeless classic, relevant even today especially in our hectic yet lonely present-day life. 

Whenever I want to unburden myself, and if no one wants to listen to me, or there is no one I can talk to, I will continue to talk to my pet dog Sherry, and though she is physically not with me in this world, I know she will be be giving me a sympathetic ear and listening to whatever I have to say with understanding and empathy. 

Try sharing your sorrows with your pet. 

It works. 

You can take my word for it.

SHERRY KARVE – HAPPY MEMORIES – THE “LOST” NEWSPAPER

HAPPY MEMORIES OF SHERRY – THE “LOST” NEWSPAPER

I had taught Sherry to fetch the Newspaper and bring it to me inside the house.

Every morning Sherry would wait at the compound gate of our bungalow for the newspaper boy.

The newspaper boy would put the newspaper in her mouth.


Then Sherry would get the newspaper to me and I would give her a treat.


She did this every morning in our bungalow in Aundh Camp, and later in our bungalow in DIAT Girinagar Khadakwasla, in Pune.

Suppose, by rare chance, we were not at home, Sherry would dig a hole in the garden, bury the newspaper, and cover it up. 


When we came back, we had to coax her to dig out the newspaper from wherever she had 
carefully hidden the newspaper for safe custody.

Sometimes she would dig out an old newspaper 
 yes, once she dug out a newspaper she had buried a month ago. 


Once I thought the newspaper boy had not delivered the newspaper, so I went to the newspaper shop and complained.


But the newspaper boy pointed towards Sherry and said to the owner: 
I gave it to Sherry  ask her.

We came home and asked Sherry to find the newspaper - and sure enough she sniffed around and dug the newspaper out.


Here is a picture, taken in 6 years ago in Dec 2008, of Sherry fetching the newspaper in our DIAT Girinagar Khadakwasla bungalow:


                           Sherry Fetching the Newspaper

SHERRY KARVE (09 April 2006 - 17 December 2014) : RIP

RIP Sherry Karve (09 April 2006 - 17 December 2014)

With profound grief in our hearts we regret to inform you of the sad demise of our beloved pet dog Sherry who passed away this morning and went to her heavenly abode.

To us, Sherry was much more than a pet  she was our daughter.


Sherry entered our lives as a baby in 2006  she was our constant companion and showered us with love, joy and loyalty.


As far as I was concerned, my life can be divided into 3 parts:

1. Life before Sherry

2. Life with Sherry

3. And now  there will be Life without Sherry

Yes, for me  there was life before Sherry  life with Sherry  and now  there will be life without Sherry.

Thank You Sherry  for the immense love and happiness you gave us  for all those unforgettable moments of joy.

You have crossed the Rainbow Bridge  and I know you will wait for me  and when I come  you will welcome me with your trademark welcome bark and a vigorous wag of your tail.

We pray that may your soul rest in peace.


RIP Sherry Karve (09 April 2006 - 17 December 2014)





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

VIJAY DIWAS - A Story

VIJAY DIWAS
A Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

16 December.

Vijay Diwas.

Victory Day.

[Vijay Diwas (Victory Day) is commemorated every 16 December in India to mark India’s Military Victory over Pakistan in 1971 during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971]

On December 16, Vijay Diwas, there was a big celebration in the school – like every year.

Everyone, teachers and students, were enthused with patriotic spirit.

Jingoism was in the air.

Students sung patriotic songs.

The School Principal spoke about the significance of “Vijay Diwas”.

The Chief Guest, the newly appointed School Superintendent, gave a rousing speech about the bravery of our soldiers.

After the function, the School Superintendent had a cup of tea with the Teachers.

“You told me that there were 18 teachers in your school, but I can see that only 17 present,” the School Superintendent asked the Principal.

“Mohini Madam is absent,” the Principal said.

“Most unpatriotic of her to be absent on Vijay Diwas – you ask her for an explanation and forward it to me,” the School Superintendent told the Principal.

“Sir – actually Mohini Madam is a war widow – her husband was a soldier in the army – he was martyred in the 1971 war – he died fighting on the last day of the war – he was killed on 16 Dec 1971 – just before ‘cease fire’ …” the Principal said.

“Oh – I’m sorry to hear that,” the School Superintendent said.

“Sir – not only that – she was newly married – just 21 years old – and pregnant – when her husband laid down his life for the nation in the 1971 war. Though widowed at such an early age, she did not remarry, but brought up her son. Then her son joined the army as an officer – and he was killed while fighting terrorists in his very first year in the army. Now Mohini Madam is all alone – she is 64 and will be retiring next year…”

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

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