Friday, December 29, 2017

Unfinished Story No. 3 – The “Activist”

THE “ACTIVIST”
A Fictional Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Circa : mid-1980’s (On a Navy Ship)

PART 1

A CASE OF “WIFE-BEATING”

“Sir – let me tell you that – first of all – I did not beat my wife – I don’t beat my wife – but – suppose – even if I beat my wife – who are you to ask me about it...? Tell me, Sir – am I beating your wife…? If I thrash my own wife – it is my personal matter – and it’s none of anyone else’s business – especially NWWA…” the Chief Petty Officer (CPO) said angrily to the Executive Officer (XO).

Observing that the situation was getting out of control – I said to the CPO:

“Carry on, Chief…”

[A CPO (Chief Petty Officer) is colloquially addressed as “Chief” in the Navy – and – the command “Carry on, Chief” (or “Dismissed”) meant that I was ordering the Sailor to go away)

The CPO looked at me – and he said smartly to me:

“Aye, Aye, Sir…”

Then – the CPO put on his cap – he saluted the XO – and he walked out of the XO’s cabin.

The XO looked at me angrily – he seemed furious at my intervention.

He marched me up to the Captain.

After hearing the XO’s diatribe against me – the Captain looked at me with questioning eyes.

I remained silent.

So – the Captain asked me:

“Do you have anything to say…? Why did you rudely interrupt the XO when he was speaking to your Chief…?”

“Sir – I prevented an aggravated offence – my Chief is a “hot-headed” guy – and – the XO was unnecessarily taunting him…” I said, “Sir – please tell me – why should we be concerned about a sailor’s personal life…?”

The Captain looked at me and said:

“Well – to be frank – as long as they are doing their job well on board my ship – I don’t give a tinker’s damn about the personal lives of my officers and sailors – but – you must remember – now – we are in the “East” – we are no longer based in Bombay – now – we are in Vizag – here – things are different…” 

(Those days – in the 1980’s – Mumbai was known as Bombay – and – Vizag is the colloquial name for Visakhapatnam)

Our Captain was right – those days – in the 1980’s – there was a huge cultural difference between the “Working” Naval Command (WNC) – and – the “Entertainment” Naval Command (ENC) – and – of course – the “Sleeping” Naval Command (SNC) had an altogether different culture.

“Sir – what should we do about this NWWA letter…?” the XO asked the Captain.

(NWWA was an acronym for Navy Wives Welfare Association – the new “welfare oriented” avatar of erstwhile Naval Officers Wives Association (NOWA) – which was purely a Social Organization)

“What to do with the NWWA letter…? Simple – throw the bloody letter out of the porthole and forget about it. Don’t you know “Porthole Strategy”…?” the Captain said to the XO.

“Sir – he has already done “porthole strategy” to the first letter – this letter is a reminder…” the XO said, pointing at me.  

“Okay. File the letter – and forget about it…” the Captain said, giving me the NWWA letter.

After he gave me the letter – the Captain looked at us – and he said:

“Come on – guys – let’s not waste time on such trivial issues – we are sailing tomorrow for an important “operational exercise”. I hope you are ready…?” the Captain said – looking particularly at me.

“Yes, Sir…” I said.

We – the XO and Me – we saluted the Captain – then – we exited from cabin – and – as we walked towards the XO’s cabin – I apologized to the XO:

“Sir – I am sorry…

The XO said to me:

“It’s okay – you did the right thing by asking the sailor to go away. I suggest you advise your sailor to “keep-off” his wife tonight. Tomorrow we sail out. And – by the time we return – hopefully this issue will be forgotten…”

Of course – I didn’t talk to my Chief Petty Officer (CPO) – it was none of my business to interfere in his personal life.

Next morning – we sailed out for the operational exercise – my CPO’s professional performance was excellent – and our ship did very well in all the evolutions.

Then – after the exercise – we sailed away on a cruise.

Story to be continued in Part 2… 

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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