MY FAVOURITE SHORT STORIES Part 44
From my Creative Writing Archives:Sci Fi - an experimental fiction story. I wrote this story long ago - maybe more than 15 years ago. This story also features in my anthology COCKTAIL - Do let me know whether you liked the story.
Failures avoid school reunions. It is painful, and shameful, for a loser to be in midst of winners.
But this time I decided to go. Sucheta would be there. She had rung up from
. And of course her husband Anand was also coming with her. Maybe that’s the real reason I wanted to go. New York
It was fifteen years since we passed out from school and the reunion was a grand affair in the best hotel at this picturesque ‘queen’ of hill stations on the slopes of the awesome mighty
Himalayas where our school was located.
As I said the reunion was followed a lavish dinner and dance party for ours was an elite and famous boarding school, valued more for its snob appeal rather than for its academic excellence.
‘Bookworm’ was an exception. He had topped the board exams and had become a distinguished scientist, always inventing something mysterious and experimenting something esoteric.
“Hi, Bookworm,” I said. I was genuinely happy to see him.
“Moushumi,” he said angrily, “my name is not bookworm. My name is Doctor Kedarnath Joshi. So don't call me Bookworm. I don't like it. I am a full-fledged Professor.”
“Okay, I'll call you Professor Bookworm,” I teased him.
“That’s better,” he said, with smug look on his face.
“So, Professor, what are you inventing nowadays?” I asked.
“I’m researching in the frontiers of Psycho-cybernetics.”
“Pyscho-what…? Stop the mumbo jumbo, Bookworm. Tell me in simple language. Who are you and what do you do?”
“Okay. I am a neurologist. A psychiatrist. A psychologist. And I also hold a doctorate in Electrical Engineering. Currently I am researching in mind-transference,” Bookworm said proudly.
“Mind-transference…?” I asked confused.
“You have seen star-trek haven’t you?”
“There they transfer persons in space. H G Wells’ time machine transferred entire persons in time,” he said.
“Time Machine…you’re making a time machine…?” I asked incredulously.
“No..No… I am working on something more complicated…Brain Transfer…I can put your mind into someone else’s body and vice-versa – that is, someone else’s brain into your body!”
“It sounds very spooky to me. Is it ESP…? Or some kind of occult stuff…?”
“Not at all,” Bookworm said, “Nothing supernatural, esoteric or mystical. It’s a purely scientific technique. I’ve developed a pilot system for trials. The machine is upstairs in my hotel room. Why don’t you give it a try?”
A strange curious wicked thought crossed my mind. I surveyed the expanse of the majestic ballroom with my eyes and soon my eyes found Anand. His dashing physique and his magnificent beard made him look prominent in the crowd. He looked a decisive, hot-blooded and dangerous man, but he also looked vulnerable.
He wore a lonely and rather perplexed expression, as though he were at the party but not enjoying it. And beside him stood his wife Sucheta radiating the natural pride of possession that any woman feels when she has the ownership and company of a man that other women desire.
I reminisced. There were four of us who grew up together. The same group of classmates and friends - in school and in college - Anand, Mohan, Sucheta and Moushumi (that’s me) – the famous four – inseparable friends. All of us loved each other.
I had the first choice since both Anand and Mohan were desperately in love with me and both had proposed to me.
I chose Mohan, leaving Anand for Sucheta.
And since that moment I kept tormenting myself wondering if I had made the wrong choice.
Physically I lived with Mohan but longed for Anand, repenting, and trying to imagine what my life would have been like if I had married Anand instead of Mohan.
I looked at Anand, and then at Bookworm.
Serendipity...! Yes. It was indeed Serendipity... pure luck...
I felt the adrenalin rush.
This was my golden chance to find out what life would have been like if I had married Anand... and I was going to seize the opportunity.
I waved out to Sucheta and five minutes later both of us were lying side by side on the double-bed in Bookworm’s hotel room.
There was a mesh of wires with electrode-transducers connected to our heads (like an EEG), a laptop-like special computer and a briefcase-size electronic device which Bookworm described as the ‘Electrophoresis Signal Processor’.
“Good,” Bookworm said, “both your brainwave frequencies are in ‘beta’ state around 15 hertz. I’ll give you both a high frequency burst to momentarily raise your brain-states to ‘K-Complex’ and instantaneously commence the electrophoresis.”
Looking at me, he said, “Moushumi, you will be Sucheta as far as the outside world is concerned. So when you wake up, go straight to Anand. Let’s see if he suspects.” And then to Sucheta he said, “Sucheta, you go straight to Mohan. He will think you are Moushumi.”
“It’s dangerous. I’m scared,” Sucheta said.
“Come on, Sucheta. Be a sport. It’s just for fun,” I said.
“It’s not fun. We’re doing this experiment to validate my research – in vivo– to see if the concept of mind-transference it works. Just for half-an-hour,” Bookworm said, “then both of you come back and I’ll reverse the process, everything will be the same as before, and you can leave as your own total selves – your same mind in your own same body.”
I closed my eyes in trepidation wondering whether I was doing the right thing. Suddenly I felt my brain go blank and then there were vivid flashes in a void.
Half an hour later, when I was in a state of ecstasy, in seventh heaven, gliding in Anand’s strong arms, enjoying the dance, in blissful trance.
Bookworm suddenly appeared by my side, started tugging my arm and telling me with urgency in his voice, “It’s time. Let’s go, Moushumi.”
“Moushumi…? Why are you calling her Moushumi…?” an incredulous Anand asked Bookworm.
“She is Moushumi,” Bookworm said pointing at me.
“Are you drunk or stoned or something…?” Anand snapped angrily. “Can’t you see she’s Sucheta, my wife...? Moushumi must be with her husband Mohan. I last saw them having a drink near the bar.”
Instinctively I turned and looked towards the bar. I could not spot Sucheta. Nor was Mohan there. I hurriedly scanned the room. There was no sign of them. They had disappeared.
Bookworm was in a state of panic and shouted incoherently: “Anand...Anand...Try to understand...Your wife Sucheta has gone away with Mohan. And this lady here in front of you is Moushumi – Mohan’s wife. This is only Sucheta’s body. Inside her is Moushumi’s brain. Moushumi’s mind is in Sucheta’s body. My in vivo experiment was successful – my psycho-cybernetics discovery is validated – the mind-transference has been achieved...!”
“Psychocybernetics…? Mind-transference…? Stop talking nonsense…!” Anand shouted angrily at Bookworm and taking my arm he said to me, “Come on Sucheta. Let’s go. Bookworm has gone crazy. And it’s getting late. We’ll drive straight down to
. I’ve got a busy day tomorrow before we catch our flight back home to Delhi .” New York
As we walked through the parking lot towards the luxury limousine Anand had hired for his visit I noticed that ‘our’ car was missing. It was cold and I glanced at ‘our’ small cottage on the hill slope for the last time. ‘They’ were probably cuddling up in ‘our’ bedroom by now.
I thought I was smart, but it was Sucheta who played the double game.
For me it was only a half-hour experiment, but Sucheta had upped the ante and turned the tables on me.
Will Mohan ever find out? And what about Anand…will he continue to think I am his wife Sucheta? Will this psychocybernetic mind-transference last forever? Am I beyond the point of no return?
As I think of my future, I shiver with tremors of trepidation. From now on life is going to be a tightrope walk. Every moment I’ll have to be on my toes.
I’m excited…very excited…and a bit terrified and scared too. It’s going to be dangerous fun.
But one thing is sure.
Now I will really know what life would have been like if had I married Anand instead of Mohan ...
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 work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
This is a story featured in my short stories book COCKTAIL.
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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 he 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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