Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Short Fiction - A Romance


This is one my earliest amateurish attempts at creative writing.

At that time, more than twenty years back, blogging was non-existent, and the only way to get someone to read your writings was to try and publish it in one of the magazines, and unlike today, when it is so easy to instantly communicate your thoughts and writing, thanks to creative vehicles like Blogs. Those days creative writers were at the mercy of “non-creative” editors.

You submitted your story, and waited and waited…and maybe finally, if you got a reply at all, it was a rejection letter…and sometimes, very rarely, you suddenly saw your story in print.

But as far as this piece is concerned, when I read it now, I am not surprised it was rejected.

Now, I am posting it on my blog for you to read.

If you like the story, do comment. If you don’t like it, please do send in your brickbat along with constructive criticism to help me improve my writing. I will appreciate your feedback.

I wrote this fiction short story long back, sometime in the 1980’s, when there were first class compartments in trains, and air-conditioned sleeper coaches had just made their appearance. I wonder why I never told anyone this story. 

So, my Dear Reader, you're the first one I am telling this story to... 

             I wondered how you said goodbye to a woman with whom you made love, for the first time.
            “Goodbye,” she said. “We both got what we wanted, didn’t we?”
            She didn’t wait for my reply, but picked up her bag and went away. I remained tongue-tied, frozen. I was too confused to react. It had been my first experience.
            “How was the trip to Vizag...?” asked Sanjiv, welcoming me to his living room.
            I started talking shop.
            Sanjiv opened a bottle of beer and said,” All that can wait till tomorrow morning – in the office. Anything exciting...? Any conquests...?”
            “Yes,” I said. “But you won’t believe me.”

            “Tell me”, he said

            I told him, very briefly.

He listened with interest.

            Probably he did believe me.

           He handed me a beer mug as we walked towards the balcony. We sat down, said ‘cheers’ and took a long pull of beer.
            “Tell me everything, all the juicy details,” Sanjiv said, in an almost peremptory manner.
            I had no choice. Sanjiv was my boss. I had to tell him everything.

            This is the story that I told him.
            Sunrise, on the eastern coast, is a resplendent spectacle. I stood on the beach to behold the breaking of the sun’s upper limb over the horizon of the sea. It was a breathtaking sight – like the unfolding of crimson petals of a gigantic flower. It was my first morning in Visakhapatnam
– ‘Vizag’ as it is popularly known.

            I turned to walk back to my hotel.

            I saw her almost at once.

           Our eyes met.

           She had capricious eyes.

           I smiled.

           She smiled.

           I felt instantly attracted to her. She looked so nubile, and the same time voluptuous. I just couldn’t take my eyes off her.

          She gave me a canny look, then suddenly turned around and walked away.

           I looked at my watch. It was precisely 6 o’clock in the morning.

            For the next ten days, I never missed my rendezvous at sunrise with her. In fact, it was the only event I used to look forward to. But I never made any attempt to talk to her. Don’t ask me why. Maybe I was too shy, or maybe I wanted to keep our relationship that way – beautiful, fragile.

            I felt sad when my stay in Vizag came to an end and as I saw my first love, my "Sunrise Sweetheart" walk away from me on my last morning at the beach.
That evening, I stood on the railway platform and scanned the passenger list on the reservation chart pasted on the First Class coach of the Express train - the night train to Hyderabad.

         No matter how many times I begin a train journey; there is always an intriguing interest in seeing who one’s fellow-passengers are. I was in coupe compartment ‘E’. The other berth had been reserved in the name of a Mr Rao – Male Age 58. Bad luck, as usual. Might as well pick up a book. I went to the bookstall and bought a paperback – ‘Great Short Stories’.  The cover was attractive and the title appealed to me. I wondered how Short Stories could be called ‘Great’.
            The train started, but there was no sign of Mr. Rao. I opened the book and started reading. The ticket collector entered. He checked my ticket and said, “The other passenger has not come. I will adjust you in some other compartment.”
            “But why should I shift?” I asked.

            “There is a single lady on the waiting list. I don’t know where to put her,” the ticket collector explained.
            Suddenly she entered. My heart skipped a beat. What a coincidence! It was she – My ‘Sunrise Sweetheart’. She gave me a warm friendly smile.
            The ticket collector stood up and spoke to her, Please sit here for the time being, madam. I shall try and shift the gentleman to some other compartment in case there is a vacant berth.”
            “It’s okay,” she said.  “We know each other. We’ll travel together.”

            The ticket collector looked visibly relieved, thanked her, and went away.
            I stood up and helped her secure her baggage. I offered her the window seat. She sat down and we started talking. I found that she was easy to talk to. I experienced a strange feeling of elation. In these moods, there was so much to say – the words simply came tumbling out. I told her everything about myself. She was a good listener. Time flew. I soon realized that she was looking at me with undisguised affection. She radiated an extraordinary sensuousness. I was aroused. But it was she who made the first move.
            I paused and looked at Sanjiv. His eyes were gleaming in anticipation for the juicy bit. But I was not going to oblige him. It was too personal.  

            “Did you get her address?” Sanjiv asked eagerly.

            “No”, I answered truthfully.

            “What is her name?”

            “I don’t know,” I lied.

   Of course she had told me her name – Anita – but I wasn’t going to tell him.
            “What did you do in the morning? You two must have at least talked something.”
            “There was no time," I said, “When I woke up she had gone to the toilet. By the time she came back, the train had reached Hyderabad . She said goodbye and got down.” I paused. Then I said hesitantly, “I managed to put the short stories book in her bag when she had gone to the toilet, as a token of remembrance.”
            Sanjiv laughed, “surely you must have written your name and address on the book; along with your message of thanks and love, of course.”
            “No,” I said. “Frankly, I was feeling quite confused and perplexed, probably scared. And I was in a hurry to confirm my reservation on the connecting train to Mumbai.”
            “You are a bloody dope, a clueless poltroon,” Sanjiv exclaimed with visible disappointment. “She was a long term investment. You are a real dope to have lost her. I wish I was there in your place.”
            Sanjiv prided himself in being a Casanova. He often boasted of his exploits and conquests. As far as I was concerned, I genuinely cherished my one and only experience.

             A man’s first love has an enduring place in his heart. I could never forget Anita; her face, her eyes, her body, the swells and peaks, the nooks and crevices, her touch, her extraordinary sensuousness.
            The flight from New York landed in Mumbai at the unearthly hour of midnight. I was returning to India after a longish stint abroad. Sanjiv received me at the airport. As he drove me home, Sanjiv dropped the first bombshell, “I got married last week. It was a rush affair. Love at first sight. We had to keep it low profile – opposition from both sides, the usual stuff. I just couldn’t inform you.”
              I congratulated him.
            “What are your plans?” he asked. “Any luck abroad.”

            “I am going to try and find that girl I met on the train,” I said, with genuine nostalgia and yearning, “My first love - Sunrise Sweetheart - hey, Sanjiv, you remember...?”
            Sanjiv burst out laughing, “I didn’t know it was that serious. Maybe my wife can help you. She is from Hyderabad.”

            We reached Sanjiv’s flat.

           The door opened and Anita stood in front of me – bold as brass.

           I froze dumbstruck and stood like a zombie.
           I certainly hadn’t bargained for this.

           Sanjiv and Anita...!
          The coincidence was unbelievable.

           As I started at Anita incredulously, I cannot begin to describe the emotion I felt, but my heart ached and my throat went dry.
Meanwhile, Sanjiv had taken my bag and gone inside. Then I felt a tinge of sadness. A man’s first love fills an enduring place in his heart. I looked into Anita eyes. She pointedly avoided my glance. I kept starting at Anita. She looked ravishing. Her beauty had enhanced with age. Her low-cut blouse, which accentuated the curves of her shapely breasts, made her, look temptingly desirable. Her crumpled sari and dishevelled hair added to her sensuous appeal. But there was not a trace of recognition in her eyes. We just stood there in silence, deafening silence.
            I was at my wits’ end when Sanjiv suddenly appeared and said, “Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t introduce you two. This is Anita – my wife’s best friend. And this,” he said pointing to a young attractive woman who had emerged from the bedroom, “is my wife Rajashree.”
            I cannot begin to describe the bizzare emotions I experienced at that moment but I just burst out laughing.
            “He is a crazy guy,” remarked Sanjiv to the ladies. “Must be the jet lag. Let’s go to sleep. Whatever is left of the night, that is...!”
            I looked at Anita as she walked away. There was still no trace of recognition in her eyes. I felt angry and disappointed. I would tackle her in the morning. I switched off the lights and went to sleep on the sofa in the living room.
            I woke up with a start. I could sense that there was someone standing near me in the darkness. I at once knew who it was.
            “Thanks for the book,” Anita said, and abruptly walked away, vanishing into her room.
            I got up and switched on the lights. The paperback on ‘Great Short Stories’ was lying on the table near the sofa. She had returned my token of remembrance. I wondered whether she was sending me a message - was there still hope or was it all over...?
            I slept late, almost till noon, and as we sat for lunch I noticed that Anita was missing so I enquired about her.
            “She has gone back to Hyderabad by the morning flight,” said Sanjiv.
            Rajashree, Sanjiv’s wife, spoke, “Poor thing. She had come here to Mumbai to see a boy but it didn’t work out. I feel sorry for Anita. She is almost thirty, four years older than me. And she’s still unmarried. Yet she keeps rejecting boys...!”
            “Maybe she is waiting for someone, maybe she hasn’t forgotten her first love” I interjected and said, “Give me her address.”
            “Shall I book you on the evening flight?” asked Sanjiv with a canny smile.
            “No,” I replied, tongue in cheek. “I prefer trains.”
            And I made it to the station just in time to catch the Hyderabad Express.

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.  
Did you like this story?
I am sure you will like the stories in my recently published book COCKTAIL comprising twenty seven short stories about relationships. To order the book please click the links below:

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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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