Monday, July 30, 2012

A STING IN THE TAIL


A STING IN THE TAIL
Fiction Short Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

From my Creative Writing Archives:

For old-times’ sake, here is a Story I wrote long ago, maybe more than 20 years ago, suitably abridged and revised.
Do tell me if you like it.
       
“I am an uncomplicated and transparent man. I have no taste for sham, tact or pretension. Never do I feel it necessary to be guarded, or to conceal, or to try to impress, to feel tense, to watch my words or actions, to suppress or repress my emotions,” I shouted angrily at Shalini, “I express my emotions spontaneously and overtly. I can’t fake my emotions for the sake of so-called social graces. If this, according to your stupid mother-in-law, is crude, uncultured and unrefined behaviour – so be it. I don’t give a tinker’s damn.”
         
I saw tears start in Shalini’s eyes and I was instantly sorry. She suddenly looked small, weak and vulnerable; her defences shattered. I looked at her and felt a strange attraction towards her. Her very powerlessness and vulnerability were the essence of her sex appeal.
         
“No wonder he is such a loser and failure,” taunted Shalini’s mother-in-law. She looked at my wife and said, “You must teach your husband some manners if you want him to go up in life. Look at my son. He knows the ways of the world. He is so soft-spoken and refined.”
         
The comparison was a doubly bitter pill for me to swallow.

While I was going through a bad patch in my career, Shalini’s husband was doing really well in the corporate sector as an upwardly mobile executive in a top MNC.
         
I walked out of my house and sat down on a bench in the nearby park. I lit a cigarette and closed my eyes trying to calm down.

The train of my thoughts ran on. It was chiefly my wife’s fault. She was too good natured. It was one of those invitations which she makes so readily and spontaneously and then regrets later.

Shalini’s flat was being renovated and my wife had invited them over to our house to stay for a week.

And today was only the first day.
         
Though we stayed in the same town, I did not visit Shalini often. She stayed with her mother-in-law. Her husband was away on tour most of the time. 

I did not get along with them. There was a mismatch in our sense of values. I hated their patronizing attitude, ingratiating manner, sweet-talk and double standards. Shalini’s mother-in-law was the worst of them all. She was always giving unsolicited advice and trying to make me conform to her perception of ideal behaviour.

But I refused to be stereotyped. I was happy to be myself, with all my so-called faults and frailties. I valued my originality, my own uniqueness. I was no imitator or clone.

And now this wily old woman had the temerity to instigate my wife against me.

And that too in my own house.
         
I saw Shalini walking towards me. She had no personality of her own. The only thing she did was hang around her mother-in-law and nod her head in agreement, flatter her mother-in-law and indulge in mutual admiration sessions – the “ideal” daughter-in-law and the “ideal” mother-in-law.

It was disgusting. The old woman had probably sent Shalini to me to give me a moral lecture.

They had succeeded in brain washing my wife. I was the only one remaining. I was not going to give them the satisfaction of toeing their line and conforming to their views. 
         
Before Shalini could speak, I said, “Sit down. Have you got a piece of paper?”
         
She opened her purse and gave me a small pocket-diary.

I took out my pen and wrote: “A servile status and a vicarious life, so typical of a domesticated lonely wife.”
         
She read the words and she gave me a glance that could have meant anything.

I was surprised that she was not offended.

She put the pocket-book in her purse and got up to leave.

I delivered my parting shot: “She who trims herself to suit everybody will soon whittle herself away.”
         
As Shalini walked away, I watched the subtle, sensual rhythm of her hips. I felt aroused. I laughed to myself. There was no point in chasing rainbows. What I needed now was a good stiff drink.
         
I returned home around midnight.

I was not drunk but feeling good.

I opened the door with the spare key I always carried in my pocket.

It was dark inside the house.

I did not switch on the lights. There was no point in disturbing everybody.

I felt like having a smoke so I tiptoed towards the balcony.

As I negotiated my way in the darkness I could sense that someone was following me.

I guessed who she was.

I stopped in tracks and turned around.

Shalini put her arms around me and held me in a passionate embrace.

I tried to restrain myself, but I had not bargained for the sheer sensual power of the encounter. She was radiating an extraordinary sensuousness of a degree I had never experienced before.

I caught her hair, pulled her face towards mine and we were engulfed in a wave of burning passion and suddenly someone switched on the lights.
        
I disengaged from Shalini and looked at my wife. 

“Don’t be late next time,” I said, tongue-in-check. 

Shalini’s mother-in-law looked at us, dumbstruck and stunned.
         
My wife walked up to Shalini and gave her a tight slap. She was angry. After all, Shalini was her younger sister.
         
I never saw Shalini again. But I did come across her mother-in-law once in the market. I even cheerfully waved out to her, but she scrupulously avoided me.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
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 article?
I am sure you will like the 27 short stories from my recently published anthology of Short Fiction COCKTAIL
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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 and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 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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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
  

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