It is a lazy Sunday afternoon here in Pune.
Let me delve deep into my creative writing archives – and pull out a story that I wrote more than 13 years ago – in the year 2004 – after a trip to Hyderabad.
I hope this flirty love story will cheer you up on this hot Sunday afternoon.
Do comment and tell me if you liked this rather amateurish romance.
Have a great week ahead.
And Hey – Dear Reader – please remember that I wrote this story 13 years ago – in 2004 – when online “e-ticketing” was not prevalent and you bought air tickets from a travel agency.
ALKA and ULKA
Short Fiction - A Flirty Romance
“Ulka. It’s Ulka – I will spell it out for you – U – 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 – you 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 Alka to Ulka.
“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”...? You just cancel this ticket and issue a new one with my correct name.”
“You will have to pay cancellation charges if you cancel the ticket...”
“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 is creating a big fuss over a minor issue...” the ticketing girl said to me.
“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 will have you fired from your job...! 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...” the lady 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...!”
“Just do what I say. Do you understand...!!!” I snapped at the hapless ticketing girl.
Then – I turned to the angry lady – and I said politely to her:
“Ma’am – please come to my cabin.”
After a glass of water – a freshen up – and a cup of coffee – composed and appearing a bit contrite – with the fresh ticket with her correct name on the table in front of her – the beautiful lady said to me:
“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 is 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 me: “And ‘Ulka’...? What does ‘Ulka’ mean...?”
“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 – do I 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 10 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 – instead of telling the boy that my name was ‘Ulka’ – the waiter 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 – to ogle 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 office 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 tells his parents them to meet Alka’s parents and ask for her hand in marriage.”
“They saw each other – the Boy and Alka. The Boy realized his goof-up – and he told Alka – he described me accurately to her – and told Alka that he had fallen for me – not 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 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...”
“In fact – till yesterday – I did not even know all this story that 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 couldn’t even afford one pearl necklace – but Alka bought a pearl necklace and an expensive diamond studded men’s watch too. Alka’s husband must be rich – she must be loaded with money...”
“I noticed that she was staring at me – so I smiled back. 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 whether you were ‘Ulka’...? And then what happened...?”
“Yes. 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 the Boy 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 to take me to her home. I told her that I wanted to meet her husband – the Boy who had fallen for me in our college canteen – but who I had never seen. 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...”
“That’s really 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...?”
“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 is not a hot-shot businessman. Alka’s husband is just the owner of a modest travel agency...” I said.
“You know him...?” Ulka asked me.
“Of course I know him. That “Boy” is me. I am Alka’s husband...” I said.
Then – she melted.
And then – she broke into a smile.
We – Ulka and Me – 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 if had I married Ulka.
Secondly – I wondered 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 men’s watch she had bought along with the pearl necklace at Abids last evening...!!!
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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