WHO IS MY HUSBAND
Fiction Short Story
I wrote this story for a Flash Fiction competition long back.
The theme was "journal" and there were restrictions on word count so it is a tightly written taut story, the bare essentials.
The story was short listed, but sadly, did not win a prize.
I wonder why...?
Dear Reader, please tell me if you like this story.
“It’s a lab journal.”
“I picked it up at the raddiwala.”
“Hey, I sent you to sell old newspapers, not collect raddi.”
“Open it, read the name.”
“John Morris ? It’s my husband’s name.”
“I know – unbelievable, isn’t it? Just imagine – your husband’s science lab journal, after so many years – and that too here, at the raddiwala inDelhi.”
“Let’s go to Mussoorie.”
“Mussoorie ? Now ? Are you crazy ?”
“To John’s school. He studied in a boarding school in Mussoorie but he never tells me anything about his schooldays. I’m dying to know – let’s go, please.”
“Annie, be sensible. You’ve got to catch the flight back home to New Yorkearly tomorrow morning.”
“Please Priti, I have to go – this journal, serendipity, it’s a signal. Let’s go in your car – Mussoorie is only a five hour drive – we can easily be back by evening.”
That afternoon the two women are seated in the office of the Headmaster of a famous school in Mussoorie.
“I wonder how this school journal surfaced after twenty years, and that too in Delhi,” the Headmaster says in awe.
“I’d love to know about my husband’s schooldays – photos, anything…”
“Well, I’ve joined recently; most of the staff too…why don’t you ask the Bursar…he’s an old timer.”
Annie and Priti walk to the Bursar’s office and show him the science lab journal.
“Mrs. Bhalla must have taken this journal with her to Delhi as remembrance when she retired,” the Bursar says wistfully.
“Remembrance ? Mrs Bhalla ?”
“Our previous Science Teacher – John was her favourite – she treated him like a son.”
“Yes. John was an orphan – he lost both his parents in a car accident…”
“…and Mrs. Bhalla was a childless widow. They lived for each other – like mother and son.”
“It’s surprising – John never told me about Mrs. Bhalla…”
“Told you ? When did you meet John Morris ?”
“Two weeks back.”
“Two weeks back ? Impossible ! Where did you meet John ?”
“In New York. At home. John Morris is my husband.”
“John Morris is your husband ? That’s just not possible…”
“Not possible ? Why do you say that ? I am Annie Morris – I’ve been married to John Morris for five years.”
“Look here young lady. There seems to be some mistake…”
“Mistake ? No. No. There is no mistake. Everything fits perfectly. John told me he studied here. Twenty years back, in 1988, he must have been in class nine, like it’s written on this journal. I know he was born in 1974.”
“Yes. The 7th of September 1974.”
“Oh, My God…How do you know ? Tell me, do you remember when you first met John Morris ?”
“Of course I remember – I first met him in May 2001. In New York. Why ?”
“Come with me,” the Bursar says, and the two women follow the podgy old man up the slopes of Landour to the cemetery at Lal Tibba.
The two women, Annie and Priti, freeze with shock as they read the large bold letters engraved on the tombstone:
BORN: 7 SEPTEMBER 1974
DIED: 15 DECEMBER 1988
Annie Morris stares at the tombstone, her brain in a tizzy, she blurts out: “If this is the real John Morris, then who is that man in New York? And if that man in New York, my husband, is the real John Morris, then who is this man lying dead for twenty years in this grave? Who is my husband?”
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.