Saturday, April 22, 2017

The “Dependent” Old Man – A Story from My Vizag Navy Days

The “DEPENDENT” Old Man
A Fictional Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

“I am not ‘dependent’ on anyone. Do you understand…?” I saw Mr. K shouting at the Canteen Manager.

“Please, Sir…” the Canteen Manager pleaded, trying to console him.

I decided to intervene.

I walked across – and – I asked Mr. K

“Sir – what is the matter…? Can I help you…?”

“This man is saying that I am ‘dependent’ on my son. I am a retired Forest Officer. Even though I am retired – I earn more than my son – I have invested well – and I earn enough to live in top style – even my bloody pension must be more than my son’s salary…” Mr. K said angrily

“I understand, Sir…” I said, trying to calm him down.

“Do you know – I have a bungalow in the prime locality of Pune – in fact – my son took money from me when he wanted to book a measly flat in that AFNHB housing scheme in the ‘back of beyond’ – and – I gave him money to buy a car too – so – it is my son who is ‘dependent’ on me – and – this man says that I am ‘dependent’ on my son…” said Mr. K – still looking very upset.

Dear Reader – let me digress a bit – and – tell you what had happened.

Mr. K was the father of my “next door neighbor” Lieutenant Commander K (a Naval Officer posted on a “Hydro” Survey Ship).

Lieutenant Commander K had gone on a long sailing.

Lieutenant Commander K’s wife (Mrs. K “Junior”) worked as a Manager in a Bank in Vizag City – and she had long working hours.

So Lieutenant Commander K had requested his parents to come over to Vizag for “Nanny Duties” to look after Lieutenant Commander K’s small children.

Lieutenant Commander K had two small children who were looked after full-time by the grandmother (Lieutenant Commander K’s mother – Mrs. K “Senior”).

In India – a ‘Career Woman’ requires someone to look after her children.

Earlier – Mrs. K “Junior” had called her own mother to “hold the fort” – during both her pregnancies and for subsequent “Nanny Duties” – but – now – her NRI sister had called her mother for “Nanny Duties” – so her mother had gone overseas to the US for “Nanny Duties” and she was going to stay there for at least 6 months.

Hence – Mrs. K “Junior” had requested her husband Lieutenant Commander K to summon his mother Mrs. K “Senior” for “Nanny Duties”.

As is generally the case – Mrs. K “Junior” hated her mother-in-law Mrs. K “Senior” – but – she had no choice but to tolerate her for the sake of her children – and – more importantly – for the sake of her own career.

At first – Mrs. K “Senior” had come alone – but – 15 days later – her husband – Mr. K arrived in Vizag from Pune.

Mr. K felt lonely without his wife Mrs. K “Senior” – so he too had come over to Vizag to be with his wife.

In fact – Mr. K wanted to take his wife Mrs. K “Senior” back to Pune – but – their son Lieutenant Commander K and daughter-in-law Mrs. K “Junior” pleaded with them to stay for “Nanny Duties” till Lieutenant Commander K returned from sailing – after which he would try and make some arrangements.

The mother’s heart melted – and – Mrs. K “Senior” agreed to stay – so – much against his will – Mr. K was stuck in Vizag for at least 3 months.

One morning – Mr. K walked across to the INCS Canteen to buy some groceries.

(INCS stands for “Indian Naval Canteen Service” which is akin to the Army CSD “Canteen Stores Department”)

After buying groceries – Mr. K looked at the impressive display outside the “Liquor Section” of INCS.

Mr. K saw a bottle of his favourite whisky in the display – so he walked into the Liquor Section to buy a few bottles of his favourite whisky.

There – Mr. K was in for a rude shock.

“Sir – we don’t issue liquor to ‘dependents’…” the salesman at the Liquor Counter said.

“I am the Officer’s father…” Mr. K said.

“Sir – the Officer has to come in person to collect liquor – we don’t issue liquor to ‘dependents’…” the INCS Salesman said.

Why are you calling me “dependent”…? I told you that I am the Officer’s father. That man over there in that section didn’t have any problem giving me items on this card…” Mr. K said, pointing at the INCS Card which he had kept on the counter.

“Sir – that is the groceries section – ‘dependents’ can take groceries – but liquor is issued only to officers…”

“Why are you calling me “dependent” again and again…” Mr. K shouted angrily.

On hearing the commotion – the Canteen Manager reached the spot – and – he tried to explain to Mr. K that liquor could not be issued to ‘dependents’.

On hearing the word ‘dependent’ being uttered again – Mr. K flared up and he shouted at the Canteen Manager: 

“I am not “dependent” on anyone. Do you understand…?” shouted Mr. K

“Please, Sir…” the Canteen Manager pleaded, trying to console him.

I decided to intervene.

I walked across – and – I asked Mr. K

“Sir – what is the matter…? Can I help you…?”

“This man is saying that I am ‘dependent’ on my son. I am a retired Forest Officer. Even though I am retired – I earn more than my son – I have invested well – and I earn enough to live in style – even my bloody pension must be more than my son’s salary…” Mr. K said angrily

“I understand, Sir…” I said, trying to calm him down.

“Do you know – I have a bungalow in the prime locality of Pune – in fact – my son took money from me when he wanted to book a measly flat in that AFNHB housing scheme in the back of beyond – and – I gave him money to buy a car too – so – it is my son who is ‘dependent’ on me – and – this man says that I am ‘dependent’ on my son…” said Mr. K – still looking very upset.

“Please, Sir – I will get you what you want…” I said.

“I don’t want anything…” Mr. K said, “This bloody place is so far from town – that is why I came here – but – I will never come here again – I will take a taxi – I will go to Vizag City – and – I will buy whatever I want – including the best of whisky – I can afford it – I need not come here to get insulted…”

“Sir, we did not insult you…” the INCS Salesman said.

“Why did you call me ‘dependent’…? I told you that I am not ‘dependent’ on anyone – but you keep calling me ‘dependent’. I am a ‘self-made’ man – I have ‘self-respect’ – I am not ‘dependent’ on my son…” Mr. K said.

“Sir – we know you are not ‘dependent’ on anyone – but – it is just Navy Terminology to call parents as “dependents”…” I said.

“Yes, Sir – in the Navy – it is the general practice to call parents as ‘dependents’ – we did not mean to insult you – we have high respect for you, Sir…” the Canteen Manager said, trying to pacify Mr. K

Mr. K seemed to have calmed down a bit.

So – I asked Mr. K

“Sir – which whisky do you want…?”

Mr. K pointed at a bottle kept in the showcase.

I nodded to the Canteen Manager – and – he issued a bottle of whisky on my liquor card – and gave it to me.

I dropped Mr. K home on my scooter.

At first – Mr. K refused to take the bottle of whisky – then – he insisted on giving me money – but – I told him that this bottle was with ‘compliments’ from me – and – he could give me a treat me later.

In the evening – I saw Mr. K standing outside – so I called out to him: 

“Sir – would you like to come for a walk…?”

Mr. K readily accepted my invitation – and – so – Mr. K joined us for our customary evening walk to the beach below Dolphin’s Nose.

As usual – after our evening walk – we headed to the Navy Club for a drink.

Mr. K readily accepted our offer of a drink.

Then – he accepted an offer of a cigarette too – and soon we were drinking and smoking and talking.

After some time – stimulated by the alcohol in his system – Mr. K started talking uninhibitedly – and he told us about his life: 

“I used to be a forest officer – I was a ‘King’ in my jungle – I love my drinks and food – and just see how my children turned out to be – it’s pathetic – I put both my sons in the defence services – and both turned out to be non-drinkers and non-smokers – it is a bloody disgrace – and this younger son in the navy – he is a bloody ‘sissy’ – he is so bloody henpecked – he does not even keep booze in his house – you gave me a bottle of whisky today – and my daughter-in-law made a big ‘hungama’ when she saw the bottle in the evening – and – my daughter-in-law has told my wife that she doesn’t allow alcohol in the house – so – I shouldn’t drink at home…”

“Sir – you are always welcome to join us in the evenings…” I said to Mr. K.

“I am really enjoying drinking with you all…” Mr. K said.

We drank – we smoked – we nibbled the small eats – and we talked.

The old man was a natural raconteur – and he regaled us with yarns of his forest officer days – his adventures in the jungles – the shikar (hunting) and barbeque parties they had.

When you are enjoying yourself – time passes quickly – and suddenly – the steward came and asked us for our permission to close the bar – it was 10 PM.

We ordered the last round of drinks.

I noticed that Mr. K was in high spirits.

“Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum...” Mr. K sang merrily, “that’s what you Navy boys say – isn’t it…?”

Mr. K swayed happily – as he walked home unsteadily.

It felt good to see the Mr. K in such high spirits – and I felt pleased – at doing my bit to make the old man happy – especially after the morning’s episode in the INCS canteen.

I escorted Mr. K to the door of his son’s (Lieutenant Commander K’s) house – and – I rang the doorbell.

Mr. K was swaying from the side to side – and – I had to hold his hand to steady him – Mr. K seemed to be in the highest of spirits.

The old man’s wife Mrs. K “Senior” opened the door.

As he entered his house – Mr. K was singing on top of his voice: “Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum – Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum...”

I could see his daughter-in-law Mrs. K “Junior” standing in the drawing room. 

The daughter-in-law Mrs. K “Junior” was looking aghast on seeing her father-in-law Mr. K in this “happy” drunken state.

For the next few days – we followed the same routine. 

Mr. K would be waiting for me in the evening – and – we would go for our evening walk – followed by a drinking session in the Navy Club.

After a few drinks – Mr. K would get into full form – and we enjoyed his tall stories of his adventurous life as a Forest Officer.

Mr. K told us about the bungalow he had built back home – and invited all of us to visit him there – and he promised us plenty of booze and delicious barbeque of various meats.

“Hey – let’s have tomorrow evening’s session on my ship...” a friend who was commanding a ship said, “I will tell the cook to prepare some good chicken and mutton dishes – and some fish and prawns for small eats...”

“Sir – I hope you like fish…” the officer asked Mr. K.

“Of course, I love fish – I like anything non-veg – chicken, mutton, fish – as they say – I eat anything that moves…” Mr. K said, “in fact – I am dying to have some good non-veg food – my daughter-in-law is a pure vegetarian – and – she doesn’t even allow my wife to cook non-veg in the house…”

That evening – we had a truly wonderful evening on the ship – drinking the best of Scotch whisky and relishing the best of food.

As I watched Mr. K swaying happily on his way home – I realized that he was in even higher spirits than the previous evenings.

As usual – when he entered his house – Mr. K was singing on top of his voice: “Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum – Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum...”

On the next day – when I came home in the afternoon for my lunch break – my wife said angrily to me: 

“Why do you do these things...? Mrs. K was here this morning on her way to work. She is very angry with you…”

“Which Mrs. K – “Senior” or “Junior”…?” I asked.

“Of course it was Mrs. K “Junior” – your friend Lieutenant Commander K’s wife…”

“So – what did the snooty bank manager have to say…?”

Mrs. K is angry with you…” my wife said.

“Why…? What have I done to her…?” I asked.

Mrs. K told me that you were spoiling her father-in-law…” my wife said.

“She said that I am spoiling her father-in-law...? What nonsense...? The old man is double my age. How the hell can I spoil him...?” I said.

My wife looked at me – and she said sadly to me: 

Mrs. K was very rude to me...”

“What did she say…?” I asked.

“She said that you were already a big drunkard – you were a total “kabaabi” and“sharaabi” – and now – you were converting her father-in-law into a drunkard. Well – Mrs. K has asked me to tell you not to call her father-in-law for drinks in the evenings…”

“So – Mrs. K “Junior” doesn’t want her father-in-law to have a good time, But – tell me – what about the old woman – the senior Mr. K’s wife – the “Senior” Mrs. K – the old man’s wife – what does she have to say…? After all – the old man Mr. K is her husband…”

“I don’t know – she must be so busy looking after the children that she hardly comes out of the house. But – please – you do what you want – but – please don’t take Mr. K with you…” my wife pleaded.

That evening – I saw Mr. K waiting for me – ready for the evening action – for a walk and a booze session.

I told him what had happened – that his daughter-in-law had warned my wife that I should not take him – Mr. K – for a drink.

“How dare she do that…?” Mr. K said.

“Sir – let’s go for a walk – your daughter-in-law hasn’t prohibited that…” I joked.

On our way back – we passed the fish market near the beach.

There was plenty of fresh catch.

“I have got an idea…” Mr. K said, “The fish looks good. Let’s buy some fish – and prawns – my wife is an excellent cook – tonight we will have the drinking session in our place – I still have that bottle of whisky you gave me…”

“Sir – but your daughter-in-law…? She doesn’t allow booze and non-veg…?” I asked.

“I am not “dependent” on her…” Mr. K said, “in fact – my daughter-in-law is “dependent” on me – just imagine – if I take my wife away to Pune with me – it will be my daughter-in-law who will be left ‘high and dry’…” 

“That is true – it is your daughter-in-law who is “dependent” on you...” I said. 

And that night – we enjoyed enormously – delicious seafood with the best of whisky – we – the old man Mr. K and we young Naval Officers – we ate and drank till the wee hours of the morning – while the snooty “dependent” daughter-in-law sulked in her bedroom. 

VIKRAM KARVE
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Disclaimer:
1. This story is a spoof, satire, 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 stories 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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