Monday, February 9, 2015

ALKA versus ULKA - Flirty Romance

It is a lovely Monday Morning here in Pune.

Let me delve deep into my creative writing archives and pull out a story I wrote more than 10 
years ago, in the year 2004, after a trip to Hyderabad.

I hope this flirty love story will cheer you up on this lovely Monday Morning.

Do comment and tell me if you liked this romance.

Have a great week ahead.

And, hey, Dear Reader – please remember that I wrote this story more than 10 years ago, in 2004, when e-ticketing was not that prevalent.

ALKA versus ULKA 
Short Fiction - A Flirty Romance
By
VIKRAM KARVE

“Ulka. It’s Ulka – I will spell it out for you   L   K  A – that’s my name  not Alka,” screamed the furious lady.
 
“I’m sorry Ma’am. It’s just a small mistake,” the ticketing clerk, a young girl, said apologetically.
 
“Small mistake...? You spell my name wrongly and you call it a small mistake...?” the beautiful lady fumed.
 
“I must have heard wrongly on the phone.”
 
“It’s carelessness. Anyway change the ticket.”
 
The ticketing clerk took the ticket from the lady.

Then, with her pen the ticketing clerk overwrote ‘U’ in place of the ‘A’ – changing Ulka to Alka.
 
“What nonsense is this?” the lady flared up – she looked livid.
 
“How does it matter, Ma’am...? It’s just a minor change of spelling. Besides your surname is spelt correctly.”
 
“Minor change...? You need an attitudinal change...!”
 
“Excuse me, Ma’am...!”
 
“What do you mean ‘excuse me’...? Just cancel this ticket and issue a new one with my correct name.”
 
“You’ll have to pay cancellation charges.”
 
“Cancellation charges...? What nonsense...! Why should I pay...? It’s your mistake. You think I am a fool...?” the lady shouted  beginning to lose control of herself..
 
Till this moment I was just watching from the sidelines.

But now it was time for me to intervene.
 
“What’s the matter...?” I asked the ticketing girl.
 
“She’s creating a big fuss over a minor issue.”
 
“Big fuss! You change my name and it’s a minor issue...? Suppose the plane crashes – what happens to the insurance...? You are incompetent. I’ll have you fired...! Who is the top man here...?” the lady said, trembling with fury.
 
“Excuse me, Madam,” I said, “may I help you...?”
 
“I want to see the top man here,” she shouted, her enormous brown velvety eyes flaming, her flawlessly smooth cheeks flushed, her slender upturned nose luminous, almost translucent, her deliciously juicy lips quivering – in her anger she looked devastatingly beautiful .
 
“I am the top man here,” I said to her.

Then I turned to the ticketing clerk and I said firmly, “Issue a fresh ticket with the proper name. Don’t make any mistakes...!”
 
“But, Sir...?”
 
“Just do what I say,” I snapped at the hapless ticketing girl.

Then I turned to the angry lady and I said politely, “Ma’am, please come to my cabin.”
 
A glass of water, a freshen up, and a cup of coffee later, composed and appearing a bit contrite, fresh ticket with her correct name on the table in front of her, the beautiful lady said, “I am sorry for creating a scene, but I get very upset when I am called Alka instead of Ulka. My name is Ulka – and I do not like to be called Alka.
 
“I can understand,” I said. “One’s name is important and people do get touchy if there’s a mistake. But then  Alka and Ulka  both names suit you.”
 
“What do you mean...?” she asked, confused.
 
“‘Alka’ means a girl with curly hair. Just like you...!”
 
She blushed, and she asked, “And ‘Ulka’...?”
 
“Well, 'Ulka’ means a meteor, a star falling on the earth from the heavens, fire, a torch or a firebrand.”
 
“Are you telling me that I am a hothead firebrand or look like a meteor...?” she smiled mischievously. 

The ice had broken. 

Her anger melted.
 
“Alka and Ulka. They sound so similar that one can easily confuse Ulka with Alka which is a more common name,” I said.
   
“I know. But because of this Alka-Ulka slip-up – I have paid a heavy price for it,” she said.

And then, Ulka began to tell me her story. 

I am easy to talk to  and her words came tumbling out.
 
“Around ten years ago, when I was in my final year at college, a boy saw me in our college canteen and he fell head over heels in love with me,” she said.
 
“Wow...!” I said.
 
“He was so desperate  that after we had left  he asked a waiter my name  and the stupid waiter made the same mistake – he told the boy that my name was Alka.”
 
“But the boy was in your college, isn’t it...?”
 
“No. No. I never noticed him. Must be one of those rich types just hanging out in our college ogling at girls. He had fallen so madly in love with me that he tried to find out my address from our college office.”
 
“Then what happened...?”

“I told you – instead to telling the boy my correct name ‘Ulka’ – the waiter told the boy that my name was ‘Alka’...

“Oh...!” I said, waiting for Ulka to continue her story.
 
Ulka looked at me and said, “So the boy went to the college officer and he asked for ‘Alka’ – and unfortunately there was an ‘Alka’ in my class  so they gave him Alka’s address.

“A goof up...?”

“Now listen to this,” Ulka said, “the boy takes the address  and then the guy goes to his parents – he gives them the address  and he asks his parents them to meet Alka’s parents and ask for her hand in marriage.”
 
“And then...?”
 
“They saw each other  the boy and Alka. The boy realized his goof-up and he told Alka – he described me accurately to her  but Alka is smart  very smart. She wasn't going to let go of such a prize catch. I don’t know what she did. Maybe she told him there was no one like me in her college  or maybe she lied to him that I was from some other college  or some such yarn  but she must have sure worked on him with all her wily charms  and finally they did get married. And now Alka is having a ball of a time loaded in dough  the wife of a wealthy businessman  while I slog it out all alone like a slave  day in and day out.”
 
“You never met the boy after that...?”
 
“No. I never met him in my life. I don’t even know how he looks.

“How is that possible? 

I told you I that I did not notice that the boy was looking at me in the college canteen. He was looking at me – but I did not know that he was looking at me – there was so much rush in the canteen and I was sitting with my group of girls - so I didn’t even seen the boy looking at me.

“Oh...” 

“In fact, till yesterday  I did not even know all this story I told you just now,” Ulka said.
 
“You did know all this till yesterday...? Then how did you come to know...?” I asked.
 
“Alka told me,” she said.
 
“Alka...? Here. In Hyderabad...?”
 
“I ran into her at Abids last evening. At the jewellery shop. I was just looking at a string of pearls. Too expensive for me. But Alka bought a lovely pearl necklace and an exquisite diamond studded watch.”
 
“A diamond studded watch...?”
 
“Yes – just imagine – I could not afford even one pearl necklace – but Alka bought a pearl necklace and an expensive diamond studded watch too. Alka’s husband must be rich  she must be loaded with money.”
 
“And then...?”

“I noticed that she was staring at me – so I smiled. Then, Alka came towards me and introduced herself  ‘I am Alka’  she said to me. Then she told me that she had recognised me – and she asked me: ‘your name is Ulka, isn’t it?’...

“Really...? She directly asked you...? And then what happened...?”
 
“Then Alka took me out to dinner in a restaurant. Do you remember that I told you that the boy had told her everything about the name goof-up  well he had accurately described me to her. Alka teased me that her husband still remembers me.”
 
“Alka didn’t invite you home...? To meet her husband?” I asked
 
“I asked her. I wanted to meet him. But she made up some excuses. Maybe Alka is scared of letting her husband meeting me. After all, a man’s first love always has an enduring place in his heart.”
 
“Sad...!”
 
“Yes. Just one small ‘Alka-Ulka goof-up and look at the consequences. She is glowing in matrimony in the lap of luxury  and me  in the abyss, all alone.”
 
“All alone? You did not marry...?”
 
“No.”
 
“Why...?”
 
“Well, I just don’t seem to like any boy – maybe I still haven’t got over that boy, I guess...!” Ulka said.

I paused for a moment.

Then, I looked into Ulka’s eyes, and I said, “Well, let me tell you that what you are imagining may not be that true.”
 
“What do you mean...?” Ulka asked, looking a bit confused.
 
“Alka’s husband  the ‘boy’ who fell head over heels in love with you – he’s no hot-shot businessman. Alka’s husband is just the owner of a modest travel agency,” I said.
 
“You know him...?” Ulka asked.
 
“Of course I know him. That boy is me. I am Alka’s husband...” I said.
 
She froze. 

Then she melted. 

And then she broke into a smile. 

We looked wistfully into each other’s eyes in silence for a long long time.
 
After Ulka left my office  there were just two thoughts perambulating in my mind.
 
Firstly  I wondered what life would have been like had I married Ulka.
 
Secondly  I pondered over why my wife Alka was hiding things from me.

Whereas my darling wife Alka had gleefully shown me the lovely pearl necklace the moment I reached home last night  I wondered why she had not told me about the exquisite diamond studded watch she had bought along with the pearl necklace at Abids last evening...!!!

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.

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