Wednesday, June 22, 2016

LOVE and LUCK – A Romance

Short Fiction – A Romance


Mumbai (Bombay)
Circa 1977

There was an unexpected change in our ship’s program  and our ship was ordered to sail back to Mumbai (or Bombay – as it was then called).

We were scheduled to return to Mumbai the next month – but all of a sudden – our ship was detached from the fleet – and we were asked to go to Mumbai.

No one knew what the reason was – but no one was interested in knowing the reason  all we were interested in was that we were returning to Mumbai.

The crew was delighted.

Mumbai was our home port – and we had been out for a long time – first – on a three month deployment to the east – and then – this never-ending exercise in the west.

And suddenly – we were heading home.

The married officers and sailors were looking forward to reuniting with their families.

The bachelors were excited about having a good time in the “maximum city” after a wearying time at sea punctuated by most boring visits to some lackluster ports.

But – I was most delighted of all – for I would be meeting my fiancée after more than three long months.

I stood in the bridge wings watching the fo’c’sle (forecastle) of our ship slice across the cool blue sea.

It was evident that the Engineers were generously adding a few “Bombay Revolutions” to the Engine Orders – because the ship was moving much faster than it should have.

I was sure the Captain noticed this – but then – it was all in the game – and he too was keen to get back to Mumbai.

We reached Mumbai just after noon – around 12:30.

I was the first one ashore – the moment the gangway was placed.

It was a Saturday – and though it was a “make and mend” – it would take some time to secure all the sailing gear – and by the time “liberty” would be announced – it may be 2 or even 2:30 in the afternoon.

My fiancée Menaka had a half-day on Saturdays – and I wanted to give her a surprise – before she left her office at 1:30.

So – the moment the gangway was placed – I left the ship in uniform – telling the Officer of the Day (OOD) that I was going for some urgent work in the Dockyard.

I quickly walked to Menaka’s office in Fort – I must have walked the fastest mile of my life.

“Menaka has already left…” the receptionist in Menaka’s office said.

“Already left…?” I asked, “But it is not even 1 o’clock…”

“Menaka said she had some urgent work – and she left around half an hour ago – at 12:30 or so…” the receptionist said.

I noticed that the receptionist was looking at me in a curious sort of way – maybe – because I was in white Navy uniform.

But then – I had come here before in uniform – and she surely knew that Menaka and I were seeing each other.

I thanked her – and I walked down the staircase – into the street.

I called a Taxi – and asked the driver to take me to the Working Women’s Hostel in Colaba.

But – to my disappointment – I did not find Menaka over there too.

“Well – her room key is here – so it seems that Menaka hasn’t come back from office…” the hostel warden said, “but today is Saturday – so she should be back by 1:30 or 2 – why don’t you wait in the visitors’ room…”

I sat in the visitors’ room of the working women’s hostel.

Time passed slowly – as I anxiously waited for Menaka – wondering where she had gone from office.

(Remember – this happened 39 years ago – in the year 1977 – when there were no mobile phones – and there was no way I could contact Menaka – so I had no option – but to wait patiently for her…).

The dining hall was next to the visitors’ room – and many girls were staring at me – since I was looking conspicuous in my white Navy uniform – and – I started feeling a sense of irritation and embarrassment.

I waited – it was an excruciating wait.

And then – my patience ran out.

I looked at my watch – it was 2:30.

“I might as well pick up my bike from the Command Mess…” I thought to myself.

Since I would be out at sea on long sailing – I had left my motorcycle in the care of my course-mate and best friend Anand – who was posted ashore – and lived in the Navy Command Mess.

Anand did not have a bike – so he was quite happy to use mine.

Today being a Saturday – Anand too would have had a “make and mend” half-day routine – and he would be back in the Mess by now.

I took a taxi – and I reached the Mess.

I could see my bike in the parking lot.

I looked at my watch – it was nearly 3 o’clock – Anand must have had his lunch – and hwould be in his cabin.

Being a fitness fanatic – I briskly walked up the staircase to the 3rd floor – where Anand’s cabin was located.

The corridors were deserted.

I knocked on the door of his cabin.

There was no response.

I knocked again – louder.

Still – no response.

Maybe – Anand was in deep alcohol-induced slumber after some “elbow bending” on Saturday afternoon – guzzling beer.

So – I banged on the door.

“Who is it…? I am sleeping now – come later…” I could hear Anand’s voice – full of irritation.

“It’s me…” I shouted, “I have come for my bike keys…”

There was silence.

After some time – I banged the door again.

“Wait – I am coming…” Anand said.

A few moments later – Anand opened the door.

He did not open the door fully – but just a little bit – and in his hand he had my bike keys.

“You were supposed to come back next week – isn’t it…?” Anand said.

“We came back early…” I said.

“Oh – take the keys – your bike is below…” Anand gave me the bike keys – and he began closing the door.

“Hey – what’s wrong – won’t you call me in…?” I said – surprised at his strange behavior.  

“Not now – I will come to your ship in the evening…” Anand said.

I was bewildered at the mysterious way in which he was behaving with me.

Something was wrong.

Yes – my sixth sense told me that something was wrong.

As Anand began to close the door – on a sudden impulse – I pushed open the door.

I looked past Anand – into the room.

I saw the handbag at once – the black shoulder bag that I gifted Menaka.

It was her favourite handbag – the one she always took to office.

Menaka’s black handbag was resting on a chair.

On the ground – there were a pair of high-heels – ladies shoes – I recognized them too.

After all – I had bought them for Menaka when we had gone out shopping in Colaba.

On the peg table there was an empty bottle of beer and two glasses…

Even a blind man could see what was going on – and I was certainly not blind.

“You please go now – I have given you your bike keys…” Anand said – putting his arm on my shoulder and trying to guide me out of the room.

I pushed him aside roughly – and I asked him: “Is Menaka inside…?”

“It is none of your business…” he said.

“It is very much my business…” I interrupted, “Menaka is my fiancée…”

“I told you to go – please leave my cabin…” Anand said – trying to shove me out.

I lost my temper and I hit him hard – a strong right handed punch straight on his nose.

It was a knock-out punch.

Anand staggered – and he collapsed on the ground.

I pushed open the bedroom door.

The bed was crumpled – and – scattered all over the floor – were garments of Menaka’s dress – the same green dress which I had bought for Menaka on her last birthday.

The bathroom door was closed.

I pushed the door – but it was locked from inside.

I kicked open the bathroom door.

Menaka was inside the bathroom – trying to cover her naked body with a towel.

I wanted to kill her.

I raised my hand – and I started moving towards her.

Menaka started screaming hysterically: “Please…Please…Please don’t hit me – please go away…”

Menaka cowered against the wall – and she was shivering with fear.

It was a disgusting sight – repugnant – horrid – and I was overcome by a sickening sensation.

I could bear it no longer – so I just walked out of the room – and I fled down the stairs.

20 Years Later...


Circa 1997

“Hi…” she said.

I did not recognize her.

So – I said to her: “Yes – Ma’am…”

“It seems you haven’t recognized me…” she said.

“I am sorry…” I began to say.

But – she interrupted me – and she said: “I am Mala – Arun’s sister – I hope you remember Arun – your NDA course-mate.”

“Oh – I am so sorry – I really didn’t…” I stammered.

“You don’t remember Arun…? Arun Roy…?” she asked.

“Yes – I do remember Arun – he was in my Squadron in the Academy – then he went to the Army – and we lost touch…”

“So – you remember Arun – but you don’t meeting remember me…?”

“Frankly – I really don’t recall…”

“Didn’t we meet at the Ordnance Club in Calcutta – your ship had come to Kolkata – it was called Calcutta those days – don’t you remember…?”

“That must have been long back…”

“So you have forgotten – doesn’t matter – I have quite a ‘forgettable’ face – so how will you remember a ‘Plain Jane’ like me – but how can I forget a handsome face like yours – you look just the same – with your majestic beard…”

I felt most embarrassed.

This must have happened 20 years ago – in 1977 – during our east coast deployment – before the heartbreaking incident with Menaka.

I remembered the ship visit to Kolkata.

I remembered going to ordnance club – drinking away with my shipmates – there were so many ‘pongos’ too – we met so many people – maybe Arun and his sister were there too – but it must have been a fleeting meeting – and – I must have been quite drunk – so – I really did not remember her.

“My Dad was in the Army those days – a Brigadier – and Arun had come on leave – so we were all sitting in Ordnance Club playing Tombola – and when I went with Arun to pick up drinks from the bar – he saw you drinking away with your shipmates – so we walked across – and Arun said ‘Hi’ to you – and he introduced me to you – and we even called you to come and sit with us – but you said that you hated Tombola – and when we came to find you after the Tombola was over – you had already left…”

“I must say you have a terrific memory…” I said, “I visited Calcutta in 1977 – 20 years have passed since – and – you remember every detail…”

“Actually I liked you so much – you looked so handsome with your Navy style beard and all – that I fell for you – it was ‘love at first sight’ – and I told Arun that I wanted to marry you – and he told my Dad and Mom…”


“So – my Dad visited your ship the next morning – and he spoke to your Captain – and enquired about you…”

“I can’t believe this…”

“But – your Captain told my Dad that you were already engaged to some girl in Mumbai…”

“He said that…?”

“Yes – your Captain said that you were already hooked to some girl – so my Dad said that ‘stealing affections’ was not a good thing – and he told me that I should forget about you…”


“So – my parents found me a ‘suitable match’ – a nice Army Officer – and I got married to him…”

“Oh – that’s great…”

“My husband was also your NDA course-mate – like Arun…”

“Really…? Who…?”


“Oh – ‘Dippy’ – he was also in the same squadron – so you married ‘Dippy’…?”

“Yes – I married ‘Dippy’…”

“That’s great – I must meet him…”

“I am afraid you can’t…”

“I can’t meet him…? Why…?”

“He passed away 3 years ago…”

“Oh My God – I am very sorry…”

“Actually – that’s why I am here in the bank – to settle some family pension issues…” she said.

“Oh – I am really very sorry…”

“You seem to have lost track of everyone – and everyone seems to have lost track of you – they said that you suddenly left the Navy – and – you disappeared into thin air…”

“Yes – I quit in 1978 – and I went abroad – I “burnt my bridges” – so to speak – I worked all over the world – all sorts of jobs – I have earned enough – and now – I have come back after so many years to settle down in Pune – I have invested my money well – and – I am financially quite comfortable – so I intend to enjoy the rest of my life…”

“You quit in 1977…? They allowed you to quit so early…? After just 4 years of service…?”

“Yes – I resigned on compassionate grounds…”


“Your wife – your kids – all of you live in Pune…?”

“I don’t have a wife…”

“Oh – I am sorry…”

“No – No – I am a bachelor – I never got married…”

“You never got married – why…?”

“I told you – after I left the Navy in 1977 – I had quite a nomadic existence – I was working in all sorts of jobs – all over the world – so it was easy to remain a bachelor…”

“I don’t understand. Your Captain told my father that you were engaged to a girl in Mumbai…”

“We broke up…”

“Oh – and that’s why you quit the Navy…?”

“Please – let’s not talk about it…”

“Okay – so now – you have decided to settle down in Pune…?”


“Any marriage plans…?”

“Maybe – if someone is available…”

“I am ‘available’…” she said, tongue-in-cheek.

I was stunned.

I could never imagine a woman propositioning me so openly.

Mala must have seen the shocked look on my face – so she said to me: “Hey – I was just joking – I am sorry if I have annoyed you…”

“No – No – it’s okay…”

“I am such a big blabbermouth – we are meeting for the first time – and I am boring you with all my talk…”

“It’s okay – actually – I am enjoying talking to you…” I said.

“Really – so you finish your work in the bank – and we will go somewhere where we can talk – let’s go to RSI – we can have a drink – and then some we’ll have some lunch…”

“Okay…” I said, “I just have to collect a Fixed Deposit Receipt – and then we will go…”

Half an hour later – we – the Mala and I – we were sitting the cool environs of the RSI club bar – drinking beer – and from her demeanor – I had a distinct impression that Mala was flirting with me.

One Month Later


Main Street (MG Road) Pune
Circa 1997

I was loafing on Main Street – and – I suddenly ran into Mala.

Mala looked at me and said: “I am very angry with you…”

“Angry…? Why…?”

“You gave me the ‘Royal Ditch’…”

“Royal Ditch…?”

“You were supposed to take me to the course get-together at NDA…”

“Yes. Something urgent came up – so I couldn’t attend the course get-together – but – I had asked Ajay to have you picked up and dropped back…”


“Yes – Ajay – he is posted to NDA – he was the one who organized the course get-together – he is in the Navy…”


“I had given Ajay your phone number – and told him where you live. Didn’t Ajay organize a car to take you for the get-together…?”

“Ajay did call up – but I told him I was going with Arun…”


“Yes – ‘Arun’ – my brother – and – your course-mate – he had come all the way from Delhi for the course get-together at NDA – and – you were in Pune – and – still you didn’t bother to attend…”

“I told you…”

“Everyone was there with their wives. They had come from all over for the silver jubilee get-together of your course. When I told them about you – that you had settled down in Pune – they all wondered why you didn’t attend – your friend Ajay said that he had informed you – and – you had confirmed that you would be coming – but – you had cancelled at the last minute…”

“Yes – I had to cancel at the last minute – because…”

“Because you came to know that Anand would be attending…”

“Who told you that…?”

“Ajay told me…”

“What did he tell you…?”

“Ajay said that he met you at RSI a day before the get-together. He said that he was entering and you were leaving – and – during the conversation – he told you that Anand had just called him in the morning from Delhi saying that he would be coming for the course get-together…”

“What else did Ajay say…?”

“Ajay said that – the moment you heard that Anand was coming for the get-together – your demeanor changed – and – you told Ajay that you wouldn’t be able to make it for the get-together – and – you asked him to arrange to pick me up…”


“Some Navy guy said that Anand and you were “bum chums” in the Academy – and later in the Navy – and then – something happened between you two – and – suddenly – there was ‘bad-blood’ between you and Anand…”

“Yes – our friendship broke up…”

“But why…?”

“I don’t want to talk about it…”

“But I want to know. Why do you hate Anand so much…? The moment you knew he was coming – you skipped the course get-together…?”

“He stole my girlfriend – he stole my fiancée and married her…”


“Her name was Menaka…”


“Yes – my best friend Anand – and – my fiancée Menaka – who I loved so much – both of them – bloody cheats – they made a sucker of me – they cuckolded me – and – they got married – that’s why I quit the Navy – I could not bear seeing them together – I didn’t want to see their faces – ever…”


“I almost went crazy – I told my CO everything – he helped me quit the Navy on compassionate grounds – and then – I went abroad – all over the world – and – it was “out of sight – out of mind”…”

“Oh – but why so much hatred – even now…? So many couples break up – but I have never seen so much animosity as you have…”

“If I tell you what they did…”

“Tell me…”


“Please – I have to know…”

“You have to know…? Why…?”

“Let’s say that I have a personal interest…”

I was taken aback.

What ‘personal interest’ did Mala have in knowing this…?


Was she was interested in marrying me…?

Is that why she wanted to know about my past…?

“Okay…” I said to Mala, “but not here – let’s go somewhere where we can talk…”

“RSI…? It’s almost 12. We can talk over a beer – and then – you can treat me to lunch and drop me home…” she said.

So – we sat in the RSI bar with glasses of beer in front of us.

And – I told her everything.

Yes – Dear Reader – I told Mala the whole story that I have told you – right in the beginning – in Part 1 of this story – about how I had caught Anand and Menaka “red-handed” – in flagrante delicto 

Mala heard the whole story with rapt attention – and she said: “Oh – you must have been devastated…”

“I went crazy – I almost became mad – I have still not fully recovered from the shock. Let me tell you that – for a moment – I may be able to tolerate Anand – but – if that treacherous Menaka ever comes in front of me – I may lose control of myself and do something nasty to her – that is why I didn’t come for the get-together…” I said.

“Menaka was not present at the course get-together…” Mala said.

“What…? Menaka did not come…? I thought that all wives were invited…?”

“Yes. Wives were invited. Even widows like me were invited. But – Menaka wasn’t there. Anand had come alone. Do you know the reason why Menaka was not there at the get-together…?”

“She must have dumped Anand and found someone else. Bloody devious nympho…!”

“Menaka is dead…” Mala said softly.

“What…?” I exclaimed in surprise.

“She died 3 months ago – cancer…”

“Oh – Ajay did not say anything…”

“He told you that Anand was coming…”

“Yes – and I presumed…”

“Anyway – let’s forget all that. I want to tell you something important…” Mala said.

“What…?” I asked her.

“Anand proposed to me…”

“What…? His wife died just 3 months ago – and he proposes marriage to the first available woman he sees…” I blurted out unthinkingly.

Then – realizing my faux pas – I said to Mala: “I am sorry…”

“It’s okay – didn’t I myself tell you that I am “available” – the last time we met…”

“So – what have you decided about his marriage proposal…?”

“I don’t know – we just talked for some time at the party – and suddenly – Anand calls me up a few days later and he proposes to me – he says he wants to get married to me…”

“And you…?”

“I told him to give me some time to think it over…”

“So – you have thought it over…?”

“If other options close – than I have will have no option but to say “Yes” to Anand…”

“Other options…?”

“Well – I have someone else in mind…”


“How did you guess…?”

I looked lovingly at Mala – and I said to her: “Call up Anand right now – and tell him that you are no longer ‘available’…”

“Okay – I’ll call him in the evening when I get home…” Mala said.

“No – call him right now – there is an STD booth at the reception…” I said.

I took Mala to the STD booth – and I made sure she called up Anand and told him clearly that she was getting married to me.

This time – I did not want to take any chances.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© 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.

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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 is a revised and complete version of my story “Bombay Revolutions” and “Stealing Affections” which I had Posted Online Earlier in my Academic and Creative Writing Blog at urls: and

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