Monday, May 11, 2015

SUCKER PUNCH - DONE AND DUSTED : Delicious Encounter With My First Love


Fiction Short Story

From my creative writing archives:

One of my earliest fiction short stories which I wrote around 25 years ago way back in the early 1990s when everyone loved travelling by train.
Do tell me if you liked the story.

– Story By Vikram Karve

I stood on the platform of Hyderabad Railway Station with placid indifference.

It was dark, and the incessant rain made the atmosphere quite depressing.

But I was in a state of elation.

The long arduous business tour of the South had been successful and I was keen on getting back home to my family in Pune after a month’s absence.

The couple of beers and delicious Biryani Dinner had further enhanced my joyful mood.

The beer had been properly chilled and the meat deliciously succulent. 

I felt on top of the world.

The train entered the platform.

I entered the air-conditioned sleeper coach and found my berth.

There were four berths in the small enclosure.

I wondered who my companions would be.

I was a typical middle aged man with a roving eye and a faithful wife.

I was hoping for the best 
 a bit of harmless flirting didn’t hurt anyone.

An old lady entered and she sat beside me 
 a disappointing start...!!!

 Rajashree entered the compartment.

I am still not sure as to who was more surprised 
 Rajashree or me?

I certainly had not bargained for this.

 Rajashree and me  stared at each other incredulously.

Then – Vijay came in.

– I was truly at my wits’ end. 

This was too much. 

The coincidence was unbelievable.

“What a pleasant surprise, old boy...!” Vijay exclaimed, shaking my hand, “Long time, no see!”

“Glad to see you, too,” I stammered, “Make yourselves comfortable. I’ll go out and have some fresh air.”

I looked at Rajashree.

She pointedly avoided my glance and tried to look busy organizing the luggage. 

She gave absolutely no hint of recognition – and looked at me as if I were a total stranger.

I made a quick exit to the platform and looked at the clock. 

There were still 10 minutes for the train to start.

As I ambled on the platform 
 I wondered about the situation.

What were Vijay and Rajashree doing together in the same place?

Were they together?

Or was it a mere coincidence?

Maybe they were just two co-travellers 
 total strangers  like the old woman and I.

If they were together 
– then Vijay would have certainly introduced Rajashree to me.

Maybe he was too busy with the luggage and the porter.

There was plenty of time to get to the bottom of this mystery 
 it was a long overnight journey to Pune.

Vijay had been a crony of mine 
 till a few years ago.

We had studied together 
 and later worked in the same firm till he had migrated to the USA in search of better prospects.

Vijay was an unpretentious, soft-voiced man without temper, drama, or visible emotion. 

He was a fine gentleman  and I was proud to claim his as a friend.

The guard blew his whistle  the engine blew its horn  and I got on to the train.

I walked to our compartment.

Vijay looked at me and said: “Meet Rajashree, a friend and associate of mine”.

I looked at Rajashree 
 directly into her eyes  and I extended my hand.

Then – I gave her the once over.

She looked ravishing.

Around her slender neck she was wearing an exquisite diamond pendant which enhanced her alluring charm.

I instantly recognised the precious diamond pendant which adorned Rajashrees neck – because it was I who had presented it to her.

I looked down from her neck.

Her low-cut blouse, which accentuated the curves of her shapely breasts, made her look temptingly desirable.

She greeted me with a formal namaste, tinged with a chill reserve. 

There was not a trace of recognition in her eyes. 

I kept staring at her. 

The silence was grotesque.

Vijay had introduced Rajashree as a ‘friend’ and ‘associate’ – a rather nebulous description of their relationship.

Was Vijay playing games with me?

Why was Rajashree behaving in this strange manner, refusing to recognize me?

Well, if they wanted to play a double game 
 I’d be too happy to oblige.

Let me tell you a bit about Rajashree, my first love.

A man’s first love fills an enduring place in his heart.

Rajashree had been my protégée. 

Six years my junior, she was a management trainee when I first met her.

Her vigour was infectious, her wit barbed and she was at once stimulating and overbearing. 

Spirited and talkative, she always wanted to dominate. 

She was ambitious and her commitment to her career was complete.

I was her senior manger. 

It was the fourth job of my career  and undoubtedly the best job I had ever held.

Rajashree was extremely competent.

I mentored her – I helped propel her career  and she made full use of my patronage.

She thirsted for quick success 
 and her overweening ambition took charge of her.

Her faults entirely arose from her overwhelming ambition and self-centeredness. 

She was impervious to absolutes and could measure her own success only in relation to others.

Despite her frailties and faults 
 Rajashree was an extremely desirable woman. 

I was attracted towards her  and she responded with passion.

With the clarity of hindsight 
 I can now say that she led me up the garden path.

I can clearly remember the day I had gifted her that lovely diamond pendant which she was now wearing around her slender neck. 

It was Rajashrees twenty-fifth birthday  and after office hours – we were strolling down Opera House intending to have a bowl of zesty Green Chilli Ice Cream at Bachellor’s Fruit Juice Stall opposite Chowpatty  and then spend the evening romancing the sunset on Marine Drive followed by dinner at her favourite restaurant in Churchgate.

I don’t know what made me do it 
 but suddenly  on the spur of the moment  I took Rajashreehand and led her into a posh jewellery shop.

In the jewellery shop  I grandly asked Rajashree to choose her birthday present.

Rajashree promptly obliged by selecting a chic, exclusive, gorgeous and most expensive diamond pendant.

My credit cards saved the day 
 but the impulsive birthday gift cost me a fortune and almost made me bankrupt.

But then 
 to me  it did not matter.

That night 
 for the first time  she made love to me.

Our relationship transcended beyond the platonic and we became lovers.

I was madly in love with her  I proposed to her  she accepted  and soon we got engaged  and Rajashree became my fiancee.

 right from the beginning of our relationship  the office grapevine was working overtime. 

Our love affair destabilized working relationships in my department.

 everything started to go wrong for me at work. 

My career took a down-swing  and I was passed over for promotion.

Rajashree dropped me like a hot potato.

She did not want to be identified with a symbol of failure. 

Rajashree did not care for losers.

Now that I was of no use to her in furthering her ambitions 
 Rajashree dumped me  and she quickly managed to ingratiate herself with a new powerful patron.

Her rise was rapid. 

Within days she became my peer  and soon Rajashree broke the glass ceiling – and she became my boss.

Just imagine my plight and shame – my protegee had now become my boss.

I accepted our reversal in roles with grace.

I tried to maintain a cordial working relationship.

But Rajashree was ruthless.

It was the most humiliating time of my life  and I still smart from the pain of those memories.

Soon the relationship between us had become so demoralized by hate and distrust that it was better to break it permanently rather than try to patch it up.

I quit my job 
– and I moved to a new place.

I shed my pique and rancour 
– and I rebounded back fresh with zest.

I did well in my new job.

Then – I got married to a nice back-home-type girl.

We settled down well in life  and soon I was living the life of a happy and contented family man.
The ticket-collector interrupted my chain of thoughts.

I noticed that Rajashree and Vijay were travelling together on a common ticket – so obviously they had a close relationship – “Friends”, “Associates”, “Companions” – many nuances are possible in the relationship between a man and a woman.

I decided to go in for the kill.

“That’s a lovely diamond pendant,” I said boldly to Rajashree, “it must have cost you a fortune.”
Rajashree ignored me.

Vijay gave her a confused look.

“You should not wear such expensive jewellery while travelling,” I added. “It is very dangerous 
 especially in trains.”

“He is right. You must be careful,” Vijay said to Rajashree.

Vijay was now looking curiously at the diamond pendant which Rajashree was wearing around her neck 
– it seemed that he had not paid much attention to it before.

After looking at the diamond pendant for some time, Vijay remarked, “Rajashree, it is really a very elegant and beautiful pendant. Fantastic diamond – must be very expensive. How much did it cost?”

“No, No – it is just costume jewellery 
 imitation stuff,” Rajashree said, “I picked it up yesterday in the lanes near Charminar – it just cost a couple of rupees.”

“What nonsense,” the old lady co-passenger sitting opposite Rajashree suddenly interjected out of the blue, “That is a superb diamond. And it is certainly not costume jewellery. It is a beautifully crafted premium necklace.”

“No, No – it is imitation jewellery 
– I know for certain – I bought it myself…” Rajashree stammered nervously  trying to cover the necklace with the pallu of her sari.

“Imitation diamond – what nonsense – that is a genuine top-grade ornament...!” the lady said vehemently, “I should know. I am a trained gemologist and jewellery designer. Come on, young girl, show me the diamond, the pendant, and I will tell you the true price of your necklace...”

Rajashree looked nervous. 

She put her hands over her neck.
I looked directly into Rajashree’s eyes and said, “Let the lady have a look the necklace. I had once bought a diamond pendant exactly like the one you are wearing for my fiancée. I want to know whether I got my money’s worth.”

Rajashree looked anxious and tense 
– she sat still  frozen  not knowing what to do.

Taking advantage, I moved fast 
– I unfastened the clasp and removed the ornament from Rajashree’s neck  and I gave the necklace to the old lady.

My unexpected action did not give Rajashree any time to react 
– and she looked stunned.

I looked roguishly at Rajashree.

She was staring at me totally bewildered with wide and terrified eyes. 

Her eyes held a desperate appeal. 

She had suddenly become small, weak and vulnerable.

I saw tears of shame start in her eyes and her face became so ashen that she looked as though she were about to faint. 

I did not rebuke her for her mendacity. 

There was no need. 

Her guilt and shame itself were Rajashree own worst reprimand.

As the old lady was meticulously scrutinizing 
Rajashree’s diamond pendant  comprehension slowly dawned on Vijay that Rajashree was telling lies to him that the necklace was imitation jewellery.

The train was slowing down to stop at a station.

“Come, let’s go out on the platform,” Vijay said to me putting his hand affectionately on my shoulder, “I desperately need a breath of fresh air.” 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This Story was written by me Vikram Karve in 1990 and has been posted by me online earlier in my blogs including at urls:  and  etc

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