MY BEST FICTION SHORT STORY OF THE YEAR 2012
In my opinion this the best fiction short story I wrote this year.
I wrote this story more than six months back, in June 2012.
Dear Reader, do tell me if you like it.
I look forward to your comments and feedback.
The old man was dying in hospital.
Everyone wanted him to die.
I was the only one who did not want him to die.
I wanted him to live because I would lose everything if he died.
They wanted him to die because they would gain something from his death.
Like vultures, circling around their prey, they waited for him to die, so that they could swoop down and grab their pound of flesh.
I did not want any “pound of flesh”.
I just wanted my old man to come back to me, hale and hearty.
I dreaded to imagine what would happen to me if he died.
I looked at all the “vultures” – eagerly waiting to seize their share in the “pie”.
And it was a huge pie, because the old man was very rich and wealthy.
He was a self-made man and had earned all his wealth slogging it out sailing on the high seas for over forty years.
I did not want any share in the pie.
I just wanted my old man to live.
The old man was the only thing I had in this world and without him I had nothing to live for.
I hoped and prayed that this time too it would be a false alarm, like so many times before, and my old man would come back to me hale and hearty, like always.
We all waited on the spacious verandah of his majestic bungalow – the old man’s most prized possession – a magnificent mansion on the banks of the Mula river near Wakad with a huge compound enclosing the vast expanse of land.
The old man had bought the land for a pittance more than thirty years ago when Wakad was a nondescript remote village in the back of beyond, some distance away from the town of Pune, and built a beautiful bungalow on the banks of the Mula River.
The old man loved to be close to nature and, during his vacations ashore from sea, he spent time hiking and rowing his boat on the river.
Now, everything had drastically changed.
Wakad was now an up-market suburb of Pune and a most sought after destination owing to its proximity of the InfoTech Park at Hinjewadi where thousands of young upwardly mobile overpaid “Techies” (IT Nerds and Geeks) worked.
The old man’s bungalow was called Anchorage.
Till a few years ago it was a solitary place, but with the advent of the IT Boom, the construction boom in Wakad started.
Soon the sprawling bungalow was surrounded by posh high rises and residential townships.
For the last few years so many persons, promoters, builders, his own kith and kin, had their eyes set on this prime property.
For them it was an eyesore, a huge undeveloped piece of land in the centre of lucrative real estate.
Over the last few years, they all had tempted the old man with the best of deals.
They offered him the choicest of apartments in Pune and Mumbai.
They said they would give him hard cash if he wanted, lots of cash.
They even tried to coerce him, with subtle threats and hints of intimidation.
But the old man would not budge and he had firmly refused to sell his bungalow.
Only I knew the real reason why the old man did not want to sell his bungalow.
Only I knew why he preferred to live a lonely life in this desolate mansion rather than shift to the comfort of an apartment in the heart of the Pune.
Some thought he was a shrewd man.
The more he held on to his bungalow, the more the price would increase.
A few years ago the offers were in lakhs, today the price of this prime real estate was worth crores, many crores, maybe 10 Crore, 20 Crore, maybe even more.
That’s why all the “vultures” had gathered.
No one was willing to forfeit their share of this bonanza – they were sure to get at least an apartment in the township which would come up here or maybe enough money to buy a flat wherever they wanted.
And maybe they would get a share in his wealth too.
Hardly anyone ever visited the old man in his bungalow, but now as he lay dying in the hospital, so many relatives and well-wishers had appeared out of nowhere.
In fact, they had all rushed to the hospital and crowded the ICU eagerly awaiting the news of the old man’s death, but the doctors had thrown them out of the hospital.
The doctors had allowed no one to enter the old man’s ICU room and sit beside him except his best friend, a long time shipmate, who the old man jokingly called Captain Haddock.
That’s why all of them impatiently waited at the old man’s bungalow in anticipation of the “good” news.
The old man had been fallen ill many times before, he had been admitted to ICU a couple of times too, he had given them so many false alarms, but this time they hoped that he would die, once and for all.
Suddenly I saw Captain Haddock’s car enter the porch.
He got out the car walked towards the verandah.
“What happened?” they all eagerly asked him the moment he entered the verandah, hoping to hear the “good” news.
“His condition is the same.”
“Why don’t they remove life support?” the old man’s son, who had flown down from Delhi asked.
“You go to the hospital and ask them,” Captain Haddock said angrily, “The best doctors in town are being consulted. The top specialist is coming over from Mumbai and if required we will fly your father in an air ambulance to Delhi or wherever required, even abroad, for the best of treatment. We will make all out efforts till the very end to save his life. I have told them not to worry about the money.”
“Not to worry about money? You told them not to worry about money?”
“It’s not your money,” Captain Haddock shouted at the old man’s son, “The hospital bills are being paid from the old man’s own hard earned money. I have a Power Of Attorney for that, so you don’t worry.”
“It’s not that,” interjected the old man’s daughter. She had come all the way from Bangalore.
“It is precisely that,” Captain Haddock said bluntly to the old man’s daughter, “You don’t want money spent on his treatment as you feel that your share will become less.”
The old man’s daughter winced.
She wanted to talk back but her husband gestured to her to remain calm.
The old man’s son-in-law had insisted on accompanying his wife to Pune.
He had “insider” information from the ICU Intensivist (who had been his classmate in school) that this time it was not a false alarm and indeed the old man was sinking and he was most likely to die.
The old man’s son-in-law feared that his MBA brother-in-law, the old man’s son, who was street smart and cunning, would surely try his best to con them and try to grab maximum share in the old man’s property.
The son-in-law knew that his wife’s older brother was so wily and devious that would have no compunctions in cheating his own sister, a simpleton Techie, and giving her a raw deal.
I looked at the old man’s biological children.
They had his blood flowing in their veins.
And they wanted him to die.
I did not have the old man’s blood flowing in my veins.
Yet, I wanted him to live.
At a distance stood a man with shifty eyes.
He was a real estate developer who was desperate to get hold of the old man’s property.
He had come, ostensibly, to help out in case any assistance was needed, but he actually wanted to ensure he was at the scene of action and to make sure he did not lose any opportunity.
He had already talked with the old man’s son who had assured that he would convince his sister and the moment the old man died they would negotiate and strike a deal.
There were many other “vultures” who would come and go, to check whether their “prey” had died so that they would not miss their share of the “feast”.
And there were numerous smaller vultures watching from a distance, their “beaks” in readiness to “peck” at whatever “flesh” remained.
No “vulture” wanted to miss the opportunity – they all knew that old man was wealthy and prosperous – he had plenty of “flesh” and if they swooped down at the right time they may get lucky.
One “vulture” had an eye on the old man’s booze collection – the choicest liquor from around the world.
Another “vulture” fancied the rare books in the old man’s library.
One more “vulture” coveted the old man’s vintage automobile.
Yet another “vulture” wanted his paintings, his exquisite art collection, probably worth a fortune.
Some other “vultures” eyed the chandeliers, the artifacts, the curios, the maritime mementos collected by the old man during his voyages around the world.
Someone “vultures” even wanted his antique furniture.
The old man had a lot of possessions and you name it, the “vultures” wanted it.
And they all waited for the old man to die.
I did not want anything belonging to the old man.
I just wanted my old man – I wanted him to live.
Suddenly Captain Haddock’s cell-phone rang.
He put his mobile to his ear, listened for some time, then he just said a soft “Yes” into the phone and kept it in his pocket.
He then gave a poignant look.
Then he nodded to everyone and began walking towards his car.
Abruptly he stopped, turned and looked at me in a sympathetic manner, as if consoling me, and then he got into the car and drove away.
My heart sank.
I feared the worst.
I was shattered.
But there was nothing I could do except wait and pray.
It was unimaginable agony.
I wished I would die rather than be rendered an orphan.
My old man did not die.
He came home hale and hearty.
All his “near and dear” his “kith and kin” were disappointed.
They had wanted the old man to die.
Because they are all humans – “vultures” who wanted to feast on his “flesh”.
I am happy.
I do not want my old man to die.
I want him to live.
Because I am not a human being.
I am not a “vulture”.
Did you like this story?
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
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.
Why don't you read my recently published anthology of Short Fiction COCKTAIL - Stories About Relationships.
I am sure you will like all the 27 stories in COCKTAIL
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:
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Foodie Book: Appetite for a Stroll
If your are a Foodie you will like my book of Food Adventures APPETITE FOR A STROLL. Do order a copy from FLIPKART:
About Vikram Karve
A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) 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 and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve 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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