Friday, October 14, 2016

Diwali Gift – A Story

The festival of Diwali is fast approaching.

This reminded me of a story I had written long ago titled DIWALI GIFT 

Dear Reader – here is the story – suitable revised, updated and abridged for reading on the digital screen... 

DIWALI GIFT – THE GIFT OF LOVE
Fiction Short Story 
By
VIKRAM KARVE

From my Creative Writing Archives:

I wrote this story around 25 years ago  in the early 1990s. 

It is a story written in a leisurely old-fashioned style. 

Do tell me if you like it.

Wish you a Happy Diwali

DIWALI GIFT –  short story by Vikram Karve

I do not know how the idea entered my brain in the first place  but once conceived  it haunted me with such urgency  that a strange force took charge of me  impelling me to act.

I tucked the packet under my arm and walked towards my destination  looking around furtively like someone with a guilty conscience. 

I had unexpectedly come across Anjali’s photograph the previous night.

The moment I saw her photograph  I knew that I had to see her.

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

10 years. 

Ten long years.

Anjali had married money.

She had married status.

I was heartbroken.

Yet – I bore her no pique or rancour.

I never will.

How can I...?

I had truly loved her. 

I still love her. 

I will always love her  always  till my dying day.

I was desperately eager to impress her.

To give her a gift would be too obvious.

I did not know how much she had told her husband about me  about us...

Her children should be the same age as mine.

Maybe slightly older.

They say the best route to a married woman’s heart is through her children.

I looked at the packet under my arm.

A gift.

Yes  the “Diwali Gift”  it was the deluxe set of children’s encyclopaedias I had promised my son and my daughter  year after year  for the last three years – and I did not buy – because it was too expensive.

And now I was going to present the same expensive encyclopaedias as a Diwali Gift to Anjali’s children  just to impress her.

As I rang the doorbell  I felt a tremor of anticipation.

Suddenly – I realized that I did not know whether Anjali would be happy to see me  or – would she pretend that she did not recognize me.

The door opened.

Anjali looked ravishing.

She gave me her sparkling smile and welcomed me with genuine happiness: “Sanjiv  after so many years  what a delightful surprise  how did you manage to find me...?"

We looked at each other.

Anjali had fully blossomed and looked stunning.

She looked so exquisite  so dazzling  that I cannot begin to describe the intense emotion I felt as I looked intently into her radiating eyes, totally mesmerized by her beauty.

“Stop staring at me... “Anjali said  her large expressive eyes dancing mischievously.

“You look so beautiful. And so young...”

“But you look old. Even your beard has becoming grey...” Anjali paused, probably regretting what she had said.

Then suddenly she held out her hand to me and said: “I am so happy to see you, Sanjiv. Come inside.”

Her house was extravagant. 

Wealth and opulence showed everywhere.

Anjali carried herself majestically with regal poise  her demeanour slick and confident. 

No wonder...!!! 

To belong had always been the driving force of her life. 

Money, status, social prestige, success – she had got everything she wanted. 

I could not help feeling a pang of envy  and failure.

“You like my house...?” she asked. “Sit down. And you don’t look so lost.”

I sat down on a sofa and kept the gift wrapped packet on the side-table.

Anjali sat down opposite. “How did you know I live here...? We shifted to Mumbai only a month ago.”

I took out the wallet from my pocket, gave it to her and said: “Your husband’s purse. I saw your photograph in it.”

Anjali opened the purse and started to check the contents.

“You don’t trust cops, do you...?” I smiled.

Anjali blushed. She kept the wallet on the table. She looked at me with frank admiration in her eyes. “IPS...? That’s fantastic. I never thought you would do so well! What are you...? Superintendent...? Deputy Commissioner...?”

Now it was my turn to blush. 

“No...” I said sheepishly, “I am only a sub-inspector.”

“Oh...” she said, trying to hide her disappointment.

But – I had read the language of her eyes.

The nuance wasn’t lost on me.

Suddenly – she had changed.

“Is Mr. Joshi at home?” I asked.

“He is still at the office...” Anjali said.

“Oh  I thought he would be home,,,” I said.

“I’ll make you some tea...” she said and started to get up.

“Please sit down, Anjali. Let’s talk,” I said looking at my watch, “It’s already six-thirty. Let’s wait for Mr. Joshi. Maybe he’ll offer me a drink. And dinner.”

“My husband comes home very late,” Anjali said. “After all, he is the Managing Director. There is so much work. And conferences. Important business meetings. He is the top boss – a very successful and extremely busy man.”

She couldn’t have spelt it out more clearly.

I got the message loud and clear.

Anjali changed the topic and askedme: “Where did you find the purse...?”

“It was deposited in the lost-and-found section last evening,” I lied.

“It’s strange,” Anjali said, “He didn’t mention anything.”

“He may not have noticed,” I said, tongue-in-cheek, “After all Mr. Joshi is a very busy man to notice such minor things like a missing purse.”

“Yes,” she said, giving a distant look.

Anjali opened the purse once more and examined his credit cards and driving license.

At first she appeared confused.

Then she gave me a cold hard look. 

But she did not say anything.

There was a long period of silence. 

Grotesque silence.

Anjali kept staring at me. 

Looking directly into my eyes.

A distant look. 

Almost dismissive.

I began to feel uneasy.

Suddenly  I remembered the gift wrapped packet I had brought for and I exclaimed enthusiastically: “Anjali, where are your children...? I have got a Diwali Gift for them. Just a small present for your kids...” 

From the look on her face  I immediately sensed that I had said something terribly wrong.

I saw tears well up in her eyes.

All of a sudden  Anjali looked small, weak and vulnerable.

I felt a sense of deep regret as comprehension dawned on me. 

Poor thing  she had no kids.

And I had rubbed salt in hr wounds.

I looked at her helplessly, pleading innocence  but it was of no use.

Some day Anjali might understand my actions  but at that moment it was hopeless to try and explain.

The hurt was deep, and I had to let it go in silence.

We just sat there in silence  not knowing what to say. 

A deafening silence. 

A grotesque silence.

It is strange how moments you have rehearsed for end up with a different script.

I could not bear it any longer.

I quickly got up and started walking swiftly towards the door.

Suddenly  I realized that I had forgotten to pick up the gift wrapped packet – the Diwali Gift.

But I did not turn back.

Why...?

I do not know.

“Don’t go, Sanjiv. I want to talk to you,” Anjali spoke coldly.

I stopped in my tracks.

I could hear Anjali footsteps behind me.

I turned around to face her.

She seemed a bit composed.  

“You lied to me, Sanjiv,” Anjali said. “I want to know where you found this wallet.”

I did not know what to say. I tried to avoid her eyes.

“Tell me,” Anjali pleaded. "Please tell me where you found this purse..."

When in doubt, I speak the truth.

So I said: “We raided one of those exclusive classy joints last night,” I stammered. “A posh call-girl racket……….”

I could not continue, so I said apologetically, “I’m sorry... I didn’t know...”

“I know  Oh yes I know  You found my husband’s wallet in a whore joint...” Anjali said mockingly.

Then she shouted: “That impotent creep  trying to prove his virility to himself...” 

With those few words Anjali had bared the secret of her marriage.

I looked at her.

Her manner was relaxed and nonchalant... her fury was visible only in her eyes.

I was nonplussed.

Suddenly I blurted out: “Don’t worry Anjali. I have dropped the charges. I’ll hush it up.”

I still don’t know why I uttered those words  but on hearing my words  there was a visible metamorphosis in Anjali.

Suddenly  she became flaming mad.

She looked so distraught and angry  that I felt very frightened.

Terrified that she would go berserk and attack me, slap me, or do something violent  I instinctively stepped back.

But – Anjali suddenly turned and left the room.

I waited  as if pole-axed  frozen like a statue for a moment.

After regaining my composure  I decided to leave  and – I started to move towards the door.

“Wait... ” I heard her scream.

I stopped in my tracks.

I turned around. 

Anjali quickly walked towards me and thrust out her right hand.

She held a bundle of five hundred rupee notes. “So this is what you have come for, isn’t it...? A bribe to hush up the case, isn’t it...? Even from me...? You unscrupulous dog  I didn’t expect you to fall so low  here  take the money and get out. This is all I have at home. If you want more money  you know where to find my husband, don’t you...?”  

“No, Anjali,” I recoiled. “Please don’t ...”

“Cheap...” Anjali spat out. There was contempt in her eyes. “Cheap riffraff  that’s what you always were, Sanjiv. Now you get out of my house you filthy blackmailer  and  I don't want to see your face again...”

She threw the bundle of currency notes at me.

The bundle hit my chest and fell on the ground  the money scattering near my feet.

“I love you, Anjali,” I said, trying to sound sincere.

“Love,” she exclaimed, her radiating eyes burning with anger. “So you have come to see how your barren old flame is flourishing, isn’t it...?”

Anjali paused and said sarcastically: “So you are pleased aren’t you...? You must be so happy to see my "success"...?”

Her vicious and sarcastic suggestion that I might be happy at her misfortune hurt me more than anything else.

I turned around and walked out of the house.

As I walked towards the gate – something hit me on my back.

I winced in pain.

The three volumes of the expensive Children’s Encyclopaedias were scattered on the ground – and – their silver gift wrapping paper was torn.

I knew that Anjali was standing in the door looking at me.

But  I did not look back at her.

I gathered the books – and – I walked away into the darkness. 


EPILOGUE

As I gradually came into consciousness from my drunken stupor  I realized that I was at home in my bed.

Though sunlight filtered in through the open windows  everything looked blurred.

Slowly things began to come into focus.

My daughter was sitting beside me on the bed.

She touched my arm with tenderness.

There were tears in her eyes.

My son stood aloof on the other side of the bed.

There was fear in his eyes.

My wife looked at me with loving pity and she said to me: “The children want to thank you for the lovely Diwali gift. They are so happy...”

She was holding the set of encyclopaedias in her hands – same expensive encyclopaedias that I had bought for Anjali’s children as a Diwali Gift  just to impress Anjali. 

I nodded to my wife. 

Then I looked at my children.

My children looked at the encyclopaedias in my wife’s hands – and then  my children looked at me with love and gratitude.

I smiled and reached out to them.

They held my hands and smiled back.

I looked at the pure unadulterated joy in their eyes.

For the first time in my life  I experienced a deep genuine true love for my wife and children.

It was a love which I had never felt before.
         
Tears of joy welled up in my eyes.

I had discovered love.

Yes  I had discovered the true meaning of love.

On Diwali Day – I had discovered the gift of love.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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.
 

This Story written by me more than 26 years ago in 1990 and posted on my creative blog first in 2006 at url: http://creative.sulekha.com/the-gift-by-vikram-karve_32154_blog  and I have posted this story online a number of times in my various blogs including at urls http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/05/true-meaning-of-love-gift-of-love.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/01/gift-my-favourite-short-stories.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/10/diwali-gift-gift-of-love.html etc
Post a Comment