Short Fiction - a short story of modern urban life
Married Bachelors are proliferating all around me.
Come, walk around with me in my workplace, and I’ll show you what I mean.
Let’s meet the latest entrant to the Married Bachelors’ Club.
“Congratulations,” I say.
“Thank you, Sir,” says the smart upwardly mobile young man standing before me.
“How was the wedding?”
“Grand – it was really a fantastic wedding.”
“Wow! Come to our place in the evening. We want to meet your brand new wife,” I say.
“Sir, she hasn’t come.”
“She is working in Delhi, Sir.”
“Tell her to quit.”
“Quit her job – why should she quit her job?” he looks at me as if I have said something blasphemous.
“She can take a year or two off, can’t she? Come on, newly married couples like you must stay together; especially in a beautiful place like Pune. Now is the time, when you are fresh and young.”
“She’s very career conscious, Sir,” he says proudly, “and this a very vital phase for her – she’s on the verge of a promotion, working on an important project.”
I looked at the young man – an ambitious high flier go-getter standing in front of me. Well, he too had “heights” to scale in his career, so why should he relocate? Why should he “sacrifice” his career ambitions for the sake of his upwardly mobile wife? For all you know, soon they may be competing with each other as to who is more successful.
From a true bachelor he had become a married bachelor.
Just like his brand new wife.
Of course, now that they were endorsed with the hallmark of marriage, both of them, husband and wife, married bachelors both, were free to focus their entire efforts on climbing their respective separate career ladders to “success” and fulfill their professional ambitions.
She is married to her job; he is married to his job – and, of course, they are married to each other.
Why do people marry?
For togetherness and companionship, isn’t it?
Then why do they live separately by choice, especially in the formative exciting passionate early years of marriage?
I just can’t fathom this paradox.
And here is my colleague – a charming lady – a veteran married bachelor.
Well, I prefer to call her a married bachelor rather than married spinster.
If actresses can be called actors, why not refer to spinsters as bachelors.
She’s not the overly ambitious type. She once told me that given a choice she would give up her monotonous backbreaking job.
Then why doesn’t she do that and quit her job?
Well, she is caught in the EMI trap.
They’ve bought an exclusive penthouse flat in the most elite classiest posh neighborhood in Pune and a weekend “farmhouse” bungalow in the hills overlooking the scenic Khadakvasla lake near Panshet. And they are so busy earning to pay off their backbreaking and never-ending loan EMIs – she is grinding herself off here in her office while he is slogging it out at sea.
Missing each other and living so far apart, they sometimes wonder whether it is all worth it – sacrificing the best years of their lives for material comforts. At night, tossing and turning in their lonely beds, yearning for each other, they sometimes fear that life may pass them by, and they may become too old and worn out to enjoy the very comforts they sacrificed the best years of their lives for.
And here is a similar tale.
Poor chap – he bought a house in Pune as he loved the place and comfortably settled down with his family.
And then he got transferred and suddenly had to move out to a small town in the upcountry quite far away in a distant state.
But his family won’t move out. They refuse to relocate. They love the place, and have embellished their adorable home with such loving care, that they can’t dream of giving it on rent either. They just don’t want to move out of their comfortable existence.
Well, no one likes to leave one’s comfort zone. Certainly not his well settled family.
It’s not easy for him to quit his job, so the poor man may have to spend the rest of his working life as a married bachelor getting transferred from one place to another while his family stays on comfortably in their lovely house in Pune.
It is difficult and painful.
Once you have tasted and savored the fruits of family life, it is difficult to live alone – you can take my word for it!
Let’s move on to another married bachelor. Just have a look at him – they call him the man with the forlorn look. I wonder why is he a married bachelor?
“Children’s Education,” he says.
“What’s wrong with the schools here?”
“I don’t want to disturb them. I want them to get the best.”
So husband and wife sacrifice their marital happiness for the sake of their darling children, who owing to their brilliant academic accomplishments are sure to fly off to better pastures, leaving behind the “married bachelors” [the sacrificing parents] to endure what remains of their marital lives as strangers in their empty nest, waiting for death.
I wonder why these married bachelors prefer to live miserably in self-imposed desolation and loneliness.
Will they never experience the warm glow of the “much-married” feeling that comes after years of togetherness and friendship?
Ah! At last, I see the lovey-dovey couple I have been noticing for weeks now – a truly “made for each other” couple!
“Good to see a lovely married couple at the workplace. They really look made-for-each-other,” I comment.
“Made for each other – Yes, but married couple – No !” pipes up the office jester, “Those two are certainly made for each other but sadly they are not married to each other.”
“They are not married?” I ask.
“You didn’t hear what I said carefully. Of course both of them are married, but they are not married to each other.”
“What do you mean?” I ask bewildered, “I see them together everywhere. Can’t you see that distinctive togetherness about them that you can see only in happily married spouses?”
“Oh yes. You can call them spouses – office spouses – office husband and office wife.”
“Office Spouses?” I ask, quite puzzled.
“Yes, Office Spouses. Workplace mates. Call them what you like. You know, now-a-days, especially among “married bachelors” as you call them, it is the in thing to have an office husband or an office wife in addition to a home husband and home wife. A bird in hand and also a bird in the bush,” he jokes, tongue in cheek.
Married Bachelors. Office Spouses. What is the world coming to?
Well, I have had enough – and just imagine, I thought the very aim of marriage is to be together.
And when I think of these lucky married bachelors, with a spouse tucked away back home and a spouse ready at hand in office, I wonder who is the mate and who is the soul mate?
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2011
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
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About Vikram Karve
A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures(2008) and is currently working on his novel. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
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Fiction Short Stories Book
Foodie Book: Appetite for a Stroll