Saturday, December 13, 2014

SECRET SORROW OR PUBLIC SHAME – WHICH IS MORE PAINFUL?

SECRET SORROW OR PUBLIC SHAME  –  WHICH IS MORE PAINFUL?

IS SECRET SORROW WORSE THAN PUBLIC SHAME
Fiction Short Story
By 
VIKRAM KARVE

From my creative writing archives:

Let me delve deep into my creative writing archives and pull out one of my Mumbai stories. 

Here is a poignant tale I wrote around 10 years ago, in the year 2004, once more for you to read:


SECRET SORROW and PUBLIC SHAME – a story by VIKRAM KARVE

As the sun begins to set, tension begins to rise in the Patwardhan household.   

Why?   

Because it’s time for Mr. Patwardhan to come home from work.   

Funny! Isn’t it?

Actually the family should be happy when the breadwinner returns home from work. 

They should be eagerly awaiting his arrival.   

You are right. That was how it used to be earlier. But now it’s different. 

Every evening is hell, a torturous ordeal, for the wife, daughter and son  as they anxiously wait for Mr. Patwardhan to come home.   

Why? 

What happened?   

It is sad. 

Very sad. 

Very very sad.

Every evening, after work, Mr. Patwardhan goes straight to a liquor bar, and comes home drunk. 

The way he is drinking now-a-days, it won’t be long before he becomes an alcoholic. 

Or maybe he already is an alcoholic.

Come with me Dear Reader, let’s go and see what happens tonight.  

Where?   

To the chawl tenement in Girgaum where Patwardhan lives. 

Look how it is built. 

Four storeys. 

Each floor has a common balcony for the row of ten one-room households. 

The balconies afford a good view of the entrance and the main road, so everyone stands there in the evening enjoying the happenings, the comings and goings – that’s the main source of entertainment here. 

And when it gets dark, they all go in and watch the soaps on cable TV.  

And now-a-days, the amusing highlight of the evening is the arrival of the totally sozzled intoxicated inebriated Mr. Patwardhan and his drunken antics.

Adults and Children – everyone eagerly waits for the the drunk Mr. Patwardhan to arrive, swinging and swaying, sometimes shouting drunkenly and laughing incoherently, as children tease him.

In the otherwise humdrum life in the chawl – the arrival of Mr. Patwardhan and his hilarious behaviour is the event of the evening, eagerly awaited by all.

Yes, everyone eagerly waits for Mr. Patwardhan – everyone, except the Patwardhan family who wait in frightful trepidation, wishing it would all be over fast. 

Look.  

Where?  

Look at the second floor balcony. 

Do you see two ladies standing in the centre of the balcony?  

Yes.   

The one on the left, in the red sari – she’s Mrs. Patwardhan.  

And the other?   

The other one in the blue sari is Mrs. Joshi  Mrs. Patwardhan’s neighbour. 

Mrs. Joshi is lucky. 

Mrs. Joshi’s husband is doing well in life. 

He is sober, successful, and they have plenty of money. 

Mrs. Joshi’s children are bright. 

They may even move out of this crowded chawl to a two BHK flat in Dombivli.

Or maybe to Thane, or Kalyan, or some distant western suburb of Mumbai, if all goes well.   

Let’s go and see what they are talking.   

“Where are your kids? I can’t see them playing below,” Mrs. Joshi asks Mrs. Patwardhan.   

“Avinash is inside, studying. He’s become such an introvert. The boys jeer at him, taunt him, because of his father's drinking problem; so he’s stopped playing with them,” Mrs. Patwardhan says. 

“It’s cruel!”   

“Yes. He’s become so silent. And his eyes! I’m scared of the hate in his eyes,” Mrs. Patwardhan says.  

“It will be be okay. Just give him time. At least he’s doing well in his studies,” Mrs. Joshi says. 

“Yes. But I’m more worried about Radhika. She’s just 14, and behaves as if she were 18, or even 20. Poor thing. From a child, she has straight away become a mature woman, because of all this. It’s so sad; she must be suffering terribly inside,” Mrs. Patwardhan says, as tears well up in her eyes.   

“Don’t cry,” Mrs. Joshi says, “everything will be all right.”   

Suddenly, there is a commotion.

Mr. Patwardhan has arrived.

As usual he is totally drunk, pissed to the gills.

As he swings from side to side, he is so unsteady on his feet, that he is barely able to walk.

The intoxicated Mr. Patwardhan stumbles on first step of the staircase – and he falls down.

His daughter, Radhika, appears from nowhere, and she tries to lift him. 

Mrs. Patwardhan rushes down the staircase.

Soon, both mother and daughter haul the miserably drunk Mr. Patwardhan up the staircase.   

Mrs. Joshi stands transfixed, not knowing what to do.

Her husband comes out of the house, and looks at the scene.

Mr. Joshi mutters: “disgraceful” – and he takes his wife Mrs. Joshi inside. 

Words cannot describe the emotion of shame, humiliation, helplessness and hapless anger, the inwardly burning impotent rage, that Mrs. Patwardhan experiences at that moment.   

Now that the  event is over, her tension dissolves  and though Mrs. Patwardhan still feels angry, with time, a few hours later, her anger also dissipates.

Her worries for the day over, Mrs. Patwardhan goes to sleep. 

The day is over.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Mrs. Patwardhan will be up in the morning, busy with her chores and work, and everything will be okay throughout the day. 

It is only in the evening, when the sun begins to set, and it is time for her husband to come home, that the tension will begin to rise within her once again.

Now, Mrs. Patwardhan sleeps like a log.  

Next door, Mrs. Joshi pretends she is fast asleep.

Though her eyes are closed, in her mind’s eye she can clearly visualize her husband’s surreptitiously silent movements as he ‘makes sure’ everyone is asleep.

Then, Mr. Joshi stealthily closes the door and sneaks out of the house in a furtive manner.   

Mrs. Joshi lies desolately on her barren bed in self-commiseration, feeling betrayed and overcome by a sense of helplessness.

She deeply suffers her terrible sorrow in secret silence.

There is just one thought perambulating in Mrs. Joshi’s mind.

Mrs. Joshi feels that her neighbour Mrs. Patwardhan is luckier than her. 

Mrs. Patwardhan’s husband may be an alcoholic but at least he is faithful. 

It is better to be the wife of a drunkard than to be a wife of a womanizer  yes, there is nothing worse than having an unfaithful husband. 

Mrs. Joshi thinks of Mrs. Patwardhan with envious sympathy. 

Mrs. Patwardhan has nothing to hide.

Everyone knows that her husband is a drunkard.

She can share her stigma with everyone. 

But Mrs. Joshi has everything to hide.

No one knows that her husband is a womanizer  no one in the chawl knows about his lecherous affairs  or at least Mrs. Joshi thinks that no one knows.

Mrs. Joshi has to bear her grief all alone. 

And then, as the night advances, the tension begins to rise within her. 

Mrs. Joshi’s tension will never dissipate  the stress, the strain, the pain – they will just keep on increasing – till one day something will snap within her.     

The public shame the drunkard’s wife Mrs. Patwardhan suffers is bad enough. 

Many make fun of her. 

Many humiliate her. 

But a few also sympathize with her.

It is the womanizer’s wife Mrs. Joshi who we must really pity, as she suffers her private ignominy in secret. 

Every moment, Mrs. Joshi secretly dies a hundred deaths inside, unknown to the others, while she keeps up a façade, a pretence, wears a mask of make-believe, that everything is fine on the outside.

Is secret sorrow is worse than public shame?

Is the fear of your secret sorrow being found out more painful than the stigma of public humiliation?    
 
I wonder which is more painful: Secret Sorrow or Public Shame? 

But one thing is sure  they both cause a tremendous amount of stress, strain and pain.

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 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.

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)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Revised Version of My Fiction Story Written by Me in the year 2004 and earlier posted online under the title TENSION on my creative writing blog by me 
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