Wednesday, November 26, 2014

SUNRISE SWEETHEART – My First Love

SUNRISE SWEETHEART
Short Fiction – Travel Romance  A Love Story
By  

VIKRAM KARVE  


From My Creative Writing Archives:

This is one my earliest amateurish attempts at creative writing. 

When I wrote this story, around 30 years ago, in the 1980’s, blogging was non-existent, and the only way to get someone to read your writings was to try and publish it in one of the magazines.

Those days writers were at the mercy of editors and publishers for their writing to see the light of day, unlike today when it is so easy to instantly communicate your thoughts and writing, thanks to creative vehicles like Blogs. 

Yes, those days creative writers were at the mercy of “non-creative” editors. 

You submitted your story, and waited and waited…and maybe finally, if you got a reply at all, it was a rejection letter…and sometimes, very rarely, you suddenly saw your story in print. 

But as far as this piece is concerned, when I read it now, I am not surprised it was rejected. 

Now, I am posting it on my blog for you to read. 

If you like the story, do comment. 

If you don’t like it, please do send in your brickbat along with constructive criticism to help me improve my writing. I will appreciate your feedback.

I wrote this fiction short story long back, sometime in the 1980’s, when there were first class compartments in trains, and air-conditioned sleeper coaches had just made their appearance. 

I travelled a lot by train, on the inimitable Indian Railway.

There was plenty of romance during train journeys.

This is a Love Story of one such travel romance which began on a train...


MY SUNRISE SWEETHEART
 
– a Love Story by Vikram Karve


Part 1 – THE JOURNEY

I wondered how you said goodbye to a woman to whom you had made love for the first time.

“Goodbye,” she said. “We both got what we wanted, didn’t we?”

She did not wait for my reply, but she picked up her bag and went away.

I remained tongue-tied, frozen.

I was too confused to react.

It had been my first amorous experience.

For some time I stood nonplussed on the platform of Hyderabad Railway Station.

Then I picked up my bag and walked towards the waiting room.

I had a bath, put my luggage in the cloak room, and went out to spend the day seeing the sights in Hyderabad.

In the evening, I returned to the Railway Station, had dinner, and then I boarded the Express to Mumbai.

Next morning, or rather in the afternoon, Sanjiv picked me up from Mumbai CST Railway Station and drove me to his home. 

The Hyderabad – Mumbai Express arrived on schedule, just before lunchtime.

“How was the trip to Vizag...?” asked Sanjiv.

He welcomed me to his bachelor’s pad – a studio apartment in Colaba in Mumbai.

I started to talk shop, about my work.

Sanjiv opened a bottle of chilled beer, poured it in two mugs, and said, “All that can wait till tomorrow morning – we’ll discuss all official work in the office. Anything exciting...? Any conquests...?”

“Yes,” I said. “But you won’t believe me.”

“Tell me”, he said, looking at me in eager anticipation.

I told him, very briefly.

He listened with interest.

Probably he did believe me.

He handed me a beer mug as we walked towards the balcony.

We sat down, said ‘cheers’ and took a long pull of beer.

“Tell me everything, all the juicy details,” Sanjiv said, in an almost peremptory manner.

I had no choice. Sanjiv was my boss. I had to tell him everything.

“I am hungry. Let’s sit for lunch,” I said, “and I will tell you the full story.”

This is the story that I told him.


Part 2 – SUNRISE SWEETHEART

Sunrise, on the eastern coast, is a resplendent spectacle.

I stood on the beach to behold the breaking of the sun’s upper limb over the horizon of the sea.

It was a breathtaking sight – like the unfolding of crimson petals of a gigantic flower.

It was my first morning in Visakhapatnam – ‘Vizag’ as it is popularly known.

I turned to walk back to my hotel.

Then – I saw her.

I saw her almost at once.

Our eyes met.

She had capricious eyes.

I smiled.

She smiled back.

I felt instantly attracted to her.

She looked so nubile, and the same time, she looked sensuous and voluptuous.

I just could not take my eyes off her.

She gave me a canny look  then she suddenly turned around and walked away.

I looked at my watch. 

It was precisely 6 o’clock in the morning.

For the next ten days, I never missed my rendezvous at sunrise with her.

In fact, it was the only event I used to look forward to.

But I never made any attempt to talk to her.

Don’t ask me why.

Maybe I was too shy, or maybe I wanted to keep our relationship that way – beautiful, fragile.

I felt sad when my stay in Vizag came to an end.

It was a poignant moment when I saw my first love, my “Sunrise Sweetheart”, walk away from me on my last morning at the beach.


Part 3 – LOVE AND LUST

That evening, I stood on the railway platform and scanned the passenger list on the reservation chart pasted on the First Class coach of the Godavari Express – the overnight night train to Hyderabad.

No matter how many times I begin a train journey, I always have an intriguing interest in seeing who my fellow-passengers are.

I was in coupe compartment ‘E’.

The other berth had been reserved in the name of a Mr Rao – Male Age 58.

Bad luck, as usual.

Might as well pick up a book.

I went to the Higginbotham’s bookstall on the platform and bought a paperback – ‘Great Short Stories’.  

The cover was attractive and the title appealed to me. 

I wondered how Short Stories could be called ‘Great’.

The train started, but there was no sign of my co-passenger Mr. Rao.

I opened the book and started reading the first story.

The ticket collector entered.

He checked my ticket and said, “The other passenger has not come. I will adjust you in some other compartment.”

“But why should I shift?” I asked.

“There is a single lady on the waiting list. I don’t know where to put her,” the ticket collector explained.

Suddenly she entered. 

Yes “SHE” entered the coupe compartment.

My heart skipped a beat.

What a coincidence. 

It was HER – My “Sunrise Sweetheart”.

I could not take my eyes off her. 

She gave me a warm friendly smile.

The ticket collector stood up and spoke to her, “Madam, please sit here for the time being. I shall try and shift the gentleman to some other four-berther compartment in case there is a vacant berth.”

“It’s okay,” she said to the ticket collector, “No need to shift the gentleman. We know each other. We’ll travel together.”

The ticket collector looked visibly relieved, thanked her, and went away.

I stood up and helped her secure her baggage.

I offered her the window seat.

She sat down and we started talking.

I found that she was easy to talk to.

I experienced a strange feeling of elation.

In these moods, there was so much to say – the words simply came tumbling out.

I told her everything about myself. 

She was a good listener.

Time flew.

I soon realized that she was looking at me with undisguised affection. 

She radiated an extraordinary sensuousness. 

I was aroused. 

But it was she who made the first move.

At this stage of my storytelling  I paused  and I looked at Sanjiv.

His eyes were gleaming in anticipation for the juicy bit. 

But I was not going to oblige him with details of our lovemaking. 

It was too personal.

“Did you get her address?” Sanjiv asked eagerly.

“No”, I answered truthfully.

“What is her name?”

“I don’t know,” I lied.

(Of course she had told me her name – Anita – but I wasn’t going to tell Sanjiv that)

“What did you do in the morning? You two must have at least talked something,” Sanjiv said.

“There was no time," I said, “When I woke up she had gone to the toilet. By the time she came back, the train had reached Hyderabad. She said goodbye and got down.”

After a full night of passionate lovemaking  you said nothing – she said nothing – I cannot believe it,” Sanjiv remarked.

Well, I think she said Goodbye – we both got what we wanted, didn’t we?’ – I think that is all she said before she quickly walked away,” I said.

And what did you say?” Sanjiv asked me.

Before I could reply, but she picked up her bag and walked away,” I said.

“She walked away – and you just stood there like a lost case with your thumb in your bum and your mind at neutral? You did not try to get her address, her phone number? Sanjiv asked.

I paused for some time. 

Sanjiv was looking at me, waiting for me to speak.

So I said hesitantly, “I managed to put the short stories book in her bag when she had gone to the toilet, as a token of remembrance.”

Sanjiv laughed, “surely you must have written your name and address on the book; along with your message of thanks and love, of course.”

“No,” I said, “Frankly, I was feeling quite confused and perplexed, probably scared. And I was in a hurry to confirm my reservation on the connecting train to Mumbai.”

“You are a bloody dope, a clueless poltroon,” Sanjiv exclaimed with visible disappointment, “She was a long term investment. You are a real dope to have lost her. I wish I was there in your place.”

Sanjiv prided himself in being a Casanova.

He often boasted of his exploits and conquests. 

As far as I was concerned, I genuinely cherished my one and only experience.

A man’s first love has an enduring place in his heart. 

I could never forget Anita – her face, her eyes, her body, the swells and peaks, the nooks and crevices, her touch, her extraordinary sensuousness.


Part 4 – ANITA

The flight from New York landed in Mumbai at the unearthly hour of midnight.

I was returning to India after a longish stint abroad.

Sanjiv received me at the airport.

As he drove me home, Sanjiv dropped the first bombshell, “I got married last week. It was a rush affair. Love at first sight. We had to keep it low profile – opposition from both sides, the usual stuff. I just couldn’t inform you.”

I congratulated him.

“What are your plans?” he asked. “Any luck abroad.”

“I am going to try and find that girl I met on the train,” I said, with genuine nostalgia and yearning, “My first love - Sunrise Sweetheart - hey, Sanjiv, you remember...?”

Sanjiv burst out laughing, “Of course, I remember. I didn’t know it was that serious. Maybe my wife can help you. She is from Hyderabad.”

We reached Sanjiv’s new apartment in Malabar Hill.

The door opened.

Anita stood in front of me – bold as brass.

I froze dumbstruck and stood like a zombie.

I certainly hadn’t bargained for this.

Sanjiv and Anita? 

Sanjiv had married my “Sunrise Sweetheart”!

The coincidence was unbelievable.

As I started at Anita incredulously, I cannot begin to describe the emotion I felt, but my heart ached and my throat went dry.

Meanwhile, Sanjiv had taken my bag and gone inside.

I felt a tinge of sadness. 

A man’s first love fills an enduring place in his heart. 

I looked into Anita eyes. 

She pointedly avoided my glance. 

I kept starting at Anita. 

She looked ravishing. 

Her beauty had enhanced with age. 

Her low-cut blouse, which accentuated the curves of her shapely breasts, made her, look temptingly desirable. 

Her crumpled sari and dishevelled hair added to her sensuous appeal. 

But there was not a trace of recognition in her eyes. 

We just stood there in silence, deafening silence, grotesque silence.

I was at my wits’ end when Sanjiv suddenly appeared.

Looking at us, Sanjiv said, “Hey, I am sorry I did not introduce you two. This is Anita – my wife’s best friend.

Then Sanjiv pointed to a young attractive woman who had emerged from the bedroom, and he said, “And this beautiful girl is my wife Rajashree.”

I cannot begin to describe the fantastic emotions I experienced at that moment, but I just burst out laughing.

“He is a crazy guy,” remarked Sanjiv to the ladies, “Must be the jet lag. Let’s go to sleep. Whatever is left of the night, that is...!”

I looked at Anita as she walked away.

There was still no trace of recognition in her eyes.

I felt angry and disappointed.

I would tackle her in the morning.

I switched off the lights and went to sleep on the sofa in the living room.

Suddenly, I woke up with a start.

I could sense that there was someone standing near me in the darkness. 

At once, I once knew who it was.

“Thanks for the book,” Anita said, and abruptly walked away, vanishing into her room.

I got up and switched on the lights.

The paperback on ‘Great Short Stories’ was lying on the table near the sofa.

She had returned my token of remembrance.

I wondered whether she was sending me a message - was there still hope for me or was it all over...?

I slept late, almost till noon, and as we sat for lunch I noticed that Anita was missing so I enquired about her.

“She has gone back to Hyderabad by the morning flight,” said Sanjiv.

Sanjiv’s wife, Rajashree, said to me: “Poor thing. She had come here to Mumbai to see a boy but it didn’t work out. I feel sorry for Anita. She is almost thirty, four years older than me. And she’s still unmarried. Yet she keeps rejecting boys...!”

“Maybe she is waiting for someone. Maybe she still hasn’t forgotten her first love”, I interjected.

“Her first love?” Rajashree asked. 

She looked at me, then at Sanjiv, with a question in her eyes. 

Sanjiv indicated to his wife Rajashree with a gesture of his eyes that he would tell her later.

“Do you have her address?” I asked Sanjiv.

“Of course,” Sanjiv said with a canny smile, “Shall I book you on the evening flight to Hyderabad?”

“No,” I replied, tongue in cheek. “I prefer trains.”

And I made it to the Mumbai CST Railway Station just in time to catch the Hyderabad Express.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer:
This Story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories 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.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

I wrote this story in 1989 and posted it online on my creative writing blog in 2006 at url: http://creative.sulekha.com/sunrise-sweetheart_311745_blog
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