Monday, June 15, 2015

Humor in Uniform – WHO WAS SHE – LIEUTENANT’S GIRLFRIEND OR CAPTAIN’S WIFE

HUMOR IN UNIFORM

WHO WAS SHE?
LIEUTENANT’S GIRLFRIEND OR CAPTAIN’S WIFE?
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Let me delve into my “Humor in Uniform” Archives and narrate to you, once more, this unforgettable “memoir” from my navy life – a delightful “love” story  romance in uniform – a story which will bring a smile to your lips...

WHO WAS SHE  LIEUTENANT’S GIRL FRIEND OR CAPTAIN’S WIFE?
(a spoof by Vikram Karve)

Part 1

The Lieutenant’s Girl Friend

Thursday 07 December 1978 MUMBAI (then called BOMBAY)

We sit on the lush green lawns of the Navy Mess, drinking, smoking, eating snacks, enjoying ourselves.

We watch the gorgeous sexy fashion models in skimpy outfits, walking the ramp, rehearsing for the Navy Ball Fashion Show.

The Navy Ball is going to be held two days later, on Saturday.

Time passes fast when you are enjoying yourself.

Suddenly it is 11 PM – the bar steward appears.

He requests permission to close the bar, and he asks us if want any more drinks.

We order the last round of drinks – 3 large pegs of rum each.

I am feeling high – quite drunk – and I have lost count of the large pegs of rum I have consumed.

The fashion show rehearsal gets over.

Lieutenant “X” walks over to our table.

With him is a girl – a fashion model who was rehearsing on the ramp.

She looks very pretty in the yellow dress she is wearing.

I know Lieutenant “X” – he is a course-mate of our Gunnery Officer and comes over to our ship quite often to have a drink in the wardroom.

Though “X” is senior to me by around 3 years, we have enjoyed many drinking sessions together, and we have become quite good friends.

“X” looks at me and says: “Hey, can I borrow a cigarette?”

I am surprised.

I have never seen “X” smoking.

I am under the impression that “X” is a non-smoker, so I ask him: “Sir, when did you start smoking?”

“No, it’s not for me – my friend has run out of cigarettes,” he says, gesturing towards the lovely girl in the yellow dress.

“Sure,” I say, and I pull out the packet of cigarettes from my pocket.

I open the flap, and extend the packet towards the girl.

“Wow,” she exclaims, “this is my brand – how come a tough looking man like you smokes this ‘girlie’ cigarette? This is a brand for ladies, isn’t it?”

“Well, I like the light taste, the menthol flavour,” I say.

From the green coloured packet, she pulls out one slim long brown “girle” cigarette wrapped in its distinctive dark brown paper.

I light her cigarette.

She smokes in a very stylish way, and this imparts to her persona a rather sensuous and seductive sexuality.

I want to be in the company of this woman longer, so I say: “Why don’t you join us for a drink?”

“No, No,” she says, “we’ve got to go – thanks for the cigarette.”

Then she looks at “X” and says to him: “You never told me that you get my favourite brand of cigarettes duty free on your ship. It is so difficult to get this brand in India and I have to pay a fortune for buying it in black in Bombay.”

“Keep the pack,” I say, holding out the green coloured packet towards her, “come on keep it, don’t feel shy – I can get plenty on board.”

“Thanks,” she says, and she takes the cigarette pack from me and puts it in her purse.

I am quite surprised that she accepts my offer so easily, so I say, “Come on, sit down with us, have a quick drink – we’ve got rum, if you want something else…”

“Okay, I’ll just have a swig from your glass if you feel happy,” she says.

She picks up my glass and takes a big swig, down the hatch, and says, “Wow – that was good. Actually, I love rum – especially with Cola.”

“If you want I’ll get some cola…” I say.

But “X” interrupts me and says to his girlfriend, “Aren’t we getting late?”

“Oh, yes, we have to go,” the gorgeous fashion model says to “X”

Then she takes a deep drag from her cigarette, and as she exhales she is haloed by a mist of cigarette smoke, and this makes her look very tantalizing, very enticing, very sexy.

“Hey, I don’t even know your name,” I say, and I introduce myself.

“Nisha,” she says, “my name is Nisha.”

Then she says “Bye”,

And they, “X” and Nisha, walk away.

My mind starts imagining things.

Like most Indian men, though outwardly I may appear to be “modern” and broadminded, inside, I am a rather old-fashioned prude, with a conservative patriarchal mindset, and I hold the rather chauvinistic view that only “fast” women smoke and drink in public.

Yes, call me whatever epithets you want to – prudish, straitlaced, narrow-minded, outdated, antiquated, old-fashioned, dogmatic, chauvinist, sexist – but way back then, I associated smoking and drinking by women as a sign of promiscuity – like a brash navy friend of mine from a mofussil town in the “up north” used to opine crudely in Hindi in his rather raunchy rustic style: “Peeti Hain To Deti Hain” (पीती हैं तो देती हैं). 

Next evening, during the Navy Ball, in the fashion show, I stand in the distance and admire Nisha as she walks the ramp, modelling various latest fashion skimpy outfits.

Nisha looks stunning – she is easily the most glamorous model on the ramp.

But that is the last I see of her.

After the fashion show is over, the Navy Queen contest starts, and when the beauty pageant is over, I search for Nisha all over, but she is nowhere to be seen; and neither can I find her boyfriend Lieutenant “X”.

Maybe they have gone somewhere to do something better than dancing!

Next morning I go to meet “X” on his ship, but I am disappointed to learn that he has gone out for the weekend – the OOD says that he has taken a few days leave too, and may come back after a week.

Unfortunately, my ship has to sail out for a long sailing, and by the time we return after a month, I learn that “X” has been transferred to Vizag.

I search and search – on other ships in the hope that maybe Nisha is a “fleet auxiliary” – I search in the Mess, the Club – I ask around – but there is no joy.

I cannot find Nisha anywhere – it seems as if she has disappeared into thin air.

Soon, I too am transferred out, and I never see Nisha again, but I can never forget her – she always remains ingrained in my mind.


15 Years Later

Part 2

The Captain’s Wife

Tuesday 07 December 1993 New Delhi

The Frontier Mail reaches New Delhi on the dot at 7 PM.

At 8:30, after a shower, I sit in the bar of Kota House Naval Officers Mess.

I have a look at the dinner menu and decide to have food outside.

Unlike the Navy Mess at Mumbai, where the food is delicious, here the menu seems to be least appetizing.

By 10:30, I have imbibed 6 large pegs of rum and I am feeling quite high.

I top up my hip flask with neat rum, before the bar closes.

Then I start walking towards Pandara Road Market.

I am familiar with the place, having lived nearby at Curzon Road Apartments, around 10 years ago.

It is a cold winter night, and as I stagger along the isolated road, I take swigs of neat rum from my hip flask, in order to warm my insides.

By the time I reach Pandara Road Market, my hip flask is empty, and I am drunk.

Yes, I am drunk, and I am very hungry.

To satiate my ravenous alcohol induced appetite, I have a hearty meal of butter chicken and naans at Gulati (my favourite eatery in Pandara Market).

Then I have a paan and light a cigarette.

Suddenly I see her, standing in the porch, as if waiting for someone.

I recognize her at once.

I walk towards her and say, “Hello, Nisha.”

“Excuse me?” she says.

There is no trace of recognition in her eyes.

“You didn’t recognize me?” I say.

“No,” she says, with quite a wary expression on her face.

She seems scared.

She should be.

Any lonely lady would be.

Just imagine the scene.

It is midnight, and she is all alone.

And there is a ferocious looking huge man standing in front of her who looks like a hooligan, totally drunk, with disheveled hair, unruly beard, bloodshot eyes, chewing pan, lips stained red, cigarette in hand, lurching towards her, and trying to be familiar.

“Come on, Nisha, don’t tell me that you don’t recognize me – remember that night in the Command Mess at Mumbai, where you were modelling, doing rehearsals for the Navy Ball fashion show – ah, maybe this will remind you – here – have a cigarette – see, I still smoke the same brand as you do,” I say, taking out the green cigarette packet from my pocket, and proffering the brown coloured cigarettes to her.

“Please Mister – now listen to me – whoever you are – there seems to be some misunderstanding – I don’t know you – I don’t smoke – and my name is not Nisha,” she says.

“Ah – so you have stopped smoking – that’s good – and you are saying that your name is not Nisha – then may I please know your name, Ma’am?”

“Usha – my name is Usha,” she says. 

“Ah – Usha – from Nisha you have become Usha – from ‘night’ you have become ‘morning’ – and now you will say you that have never been a fashion model…”

“I am not a fashion model – I have never done modelling in my life – and now you listen – please stop bothering me and go away – my husband has gone to get the car – he will be coming anytime now – and he is a defence officer in the navy…” she says, with a slight threatening tone.

“Of course I know your husband is in the navy – his name is Captain “X” – isn’t it?” I say.

“How do you know my husband?” she asks, surprised.

“Come on, don’t you remember – we met in the Navy Command Mess Mumbai – in 1978 – you were with your husband “X” – of course, those days must have been his girlfriend – and you desperately wanted a cigarette – so you came over and took a cigarette from me – and you said we smoked the same brand – this one which I am smoking right now – and you had a sip of rum from my glass too – don’t you remember – that day also you were wearing a yellow dress – and today also you wearing a yellow dress – it seems yellow is your favourite colour – and it suits you very well…”

“I don’t remember anything what you are saying – and, by the way, I have never been to Mumbai…”

“How is that possible?” I ask.

“Well, we have been married for 10 years, and we have been posted to Vizag, Cochin and Delhi, but we have never been posted to Mumbai – in fact, our next posting may be in Mumbai,” she says.

Then she looks over my shoulder, and exclaims, “Ah – there comes my husband.”

A car drives up and stops nearby.

I can see “X” at the steering wheel of the car.

I open the door of the car for the lady.

Then I peep inside, and say, “Hi, Sir – congratulations – I saw the promotion signal last week.”

“X” recognizes me at once.

“X” gets out of the car, walks around to me, shakes my hand, and says warmly, “It is really so nice to see you. How come you are in Delhi?”

I tell him the nature of my visit.

“So, where are you put up?” he asks.

“Kota House, Sir,” I say.

“Come on, get inside, I’ll drop you at Kota House on the way,” he says.

I get inside the car, on the rear seat – behind Mrs “X”.

As we drive towards Kota House, I say to “X”: “Sir, you have become a Captain, and you recognized me, but your wife refuses to recognize me – it seems your rank has gone into her head…”

“No, no, nothing like that – and how can she recognize you – she has never met you before,” says “X”.

“Sir, I don’t know what’s wrong with you two – you both just don’t seem to remember anything  first your wife says that she has not met me – and now you too say the same thing – how can you forget that evening of the fashion show rehearsal in the Mumbai Command Mess?” I say.

And then I narrate the entire story of that unforgettable evening on the lawns on Command Mess Mumbai on Thursday the 7th of December 1978.

Mrs “X” has turned her head slightly.

I can sense that she is hearing my words intently.

I harp again and again on the salient points – the rare brand of cigarettes we two, his wife and I, smoked – the episode of Mrs “X” swigging rum from my glass – her yellow dress, like the one she was wearing now – her stunning performance on the ramp the next evening during the Navy Ball Fashion Show.

I narrate everything in full detail.

And then I deliver the coup de grace:

“And Sir  now your wife tells me that she has never met me. She says that she was never a fashion model. And  best of all  your wife says that she has changed her name from Nisha to Usha.”

“X” looks at me via the rear view mirror and says, “I think you are confused. I don’t remember any such incident.”

I feel puzzled.

First Mrs “X” denies it.

Now “X” himself is denying it.

What the hell is going on?

Suddenly “X” says: “Ah – here is Kota House.” 

And he pulls up the car beside Kota House gate.

I get out of the car, wish them good night, and then I stagger towards my cabin.


1 Day Later

Part 3

The Casanova Lieutenant turned Henpecked Captain

7 AM Wednesday 08 December 1993 Kota House Mess New Delhi

There is a loud knock on my cabin door.

I wake up, feeling groggy after last night’s excesses, and open the door.

It is “X”.

“X” looks angrily at me and says: “You bloody drunkard – why did you blurt out all that nonsense to my wife? That female with me in the Command Mess at Mumbai 15 years ago was someone else, not my wife. Her name was Nisha – and my wife’s name is Usha – they are two different persons – do you understand?

“Really? Nisha and Usha – but they look so similar – and the yellow dress – so much coincidence – I am sorry – I made a mistake,” I say, feeling contrite.

“What bloody mistake – my wife is furious,” says “X”.

“You didn’t tell your wife about that female Nisha – your girlfriend in Mumbai?” I ask.

“Are you crazy? Of course not! I have not told my wife anything about that female – it was just a passing affair,” he says.

“Oh, shit – just tell your wife that I was drunk and I was talking nonsense,” I say.

“I told her that – but she says that people who are drunk always speak the truth – you have really got me into trouble – she is suspecting all sorts of things,” he says.

“Sir, you should have told her about your girlfriend – why did you hide your past love life from your wife…?” I said.

“It is too late for all those ifs and whys now – let us not discuss all that  now if you want to help me save my marriage, you just do exactly as I tell you. Come on – get ready quickly. I am taking you home for breakfast,” says “X”.

“Your home? For breakfast?” I ask, bewildered.

“X” looks at me and he says: “Yes. You are coming with me right now. You will tell my wife Usha that it was not me and her that you met that night in Mumbai, but someone else – do you understand – you never met me in command mess that evening in 1978 – and you never met her in command mess that evening – it was someone else – some other couple  and you made a mistake – you were drunk – you got confused – you have to convince her somehow – do you understand?”

“Yes, Sir,” I say.

“And remember, my wifes name is Usha, not Nisha – in fact, you will never utter the name Nisha again – that chapter is over, finished, closed forever – do you understand?  he warns me.

“Aye Aye, Sir,” I say.

“X” drives me down to his house for breakfast.

I do exactly as I am told.

I tell Mrs “X” exactly what her husband “X” had asked me to tell her.

But whether Mrs “X” is convinced or not – I do not know.

Once the seed of suspicion is sown  the mind can think all sorts of things  and even go berserk in strange directions.

After breakfast at his home  as “X” drives me back to the Kota House Mess  I look at “X” – and I wonder: “Was Nisha his only pre-marital love affair? Or, like a quintessential sailor, did he have a girl in every port?

VIKRAM KARVE
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Disclaimer:
1. This story is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are 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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