Friday, July 8, 2016

Secret Sorrow vs Public Shame – A Story – Short Fiction


Fiction Short Story

Let me delve deep into my creative writing archives and pull out one of my Mumbai stories. 

Here is a poignant tale I wrote 12 years ago  in the year 2004  for you to read.

Around 12 years ago – in 2004  during my evening walk – I saw a very sad scene. 

That night – I wrote this story.


As the sun begins to set  tension begins to rise in the Patwardhan household.   


Because it’s time for Mr. Patwardhan to come home from work.   

Funny! Isn’t it?

Actually  the family should be happy when the breadwinner returns home from work. 

They should be eagerly awaiting his arrival.   

You are right. 

That was how it used to be earlier. 

But now  it’s different. 

Every evening is hell  a torturous ordeal  for the wife, daughter and son  as they anxiously wait for Mr. Patwardhan to come home.   


What happened?   

It is sad. 

Very sad. 

Very very sad.

Every evening  after work  Mr. Patwardhan goes straight to a liquor bar  and he comes home drunk. 

The way he is drinking now-a-days  it won’t be long before he becomes an alcoholic. 

Or maybe  he already is an alcoholic.

Come with me Dear Reader  let’s go and see what happens tonight.  


To the chawl tenement in Girgaum where Patwardhan lives. 

Look how it is built. 

Four storeys. 

Each floor has a common balcony for the row of ten one-room households. 

The balconies afford a good view of the entrance and the main road  so everyone stands there in the evening enjoying the happenings  the comings and goings – that’s the main source of entertainment here. 

And – when it gets dark  they all go inside  and watch the soaps on cable TV.  

And now-a-days  the amusing highlight of the evening is the arrival of the totally sozzled intoxicated inebriated Mr. Patwardhan  and his drunken antics.

Adults and Children – everyone eagerly waits for the the drunk Mr. Patwardhan to arrive  swinging and swaying  sometimes shouting drunkenly and laughing incoherently  as children tease him.

In the otherwise humdrum life in the chawl – the arrival of Mr. Patwardhan and his hilarious behaviour is the event of the evening  eagerly awaited by all.

Yes  everyone eagerly waits for Mr. Patwardhan – everyone  except the Patwardhan family who wait in frightful trepidation.

They have long given up hope that Mr. Patwardhan would come home sober  so – they hope that he would come home soon  and the evening’s entertainment session would be over quickly. 



Look at the second floor balcony. 

Do you see two ladies standing in the centre of the balcony?  


The one on the left  in the red sari – she’s Mrs. Patwardhan.  

And the other?   

The other one in the blue sari is Mrs. Joshi  Mrs. Patwardhan’s neighbour. 

Mrs. Joshi is lucky. 

Mrs. Joshi’s husband is doing well in life. 

Mrs. Joshi’s husband is a cultured, sober and successful man  and they have plenty of money. 

Mrs. Joshi’s children are bright. 

They may even move out of this crowded chawl to a 2 BHK flat in Dombivli.

Or maybe  they may relocate  to Thane  or Kalyan  or some distant western suburb of Mumbai  if all goes well.   

Let’s go and see what they are talking.   

“Where are your kids? I can’t see them playing below,” Mrs. Joshi asks Mrs. Patwardhan.   

“Avinash is inside, studying. He’s become such an introvert. The boys jeer at him, taunt him – all because of his father's drinking problem  so he’s stopped playing with them,” Mrs. Patwardhan says. 

“It’s cruel!”   

“Yes. He’s become so silent. And his eyes! I’m scared of the hate in his eyes,” Mrs. Patwardhan says.  

“It will be be okay. Just give him time. At least he’s doing well in his studies,” Mrs. Joshi says. 

“Yes. But I’m more worried about Radhika. She’s just 14  but she behaves as if she were 18  or even 20. Poor thing. From a child  she has straight away become a mature woman  because of all this. It’s so sad  she must be suffering terribly inside,” Mrs. Patwardhan says, as tears well up in her eyes.   

“Don’t cry,” Mrs. Joshi says, “everything will be all right.”   

Suddenly  there is a commotion.

Mr. Patwardhan has arrived.

As usual  he is totally drunk, pissed to the gills.

As he swings from side to side  he is so unsteady on his feet  that he is barely able to walk.

The intoxicated Mr. Patwardhan stumbles on first step of the staircase – and he falls down.

His daughter  Radhika  she appears from nowhere  and she tries to lift her father.

Mrs. Patwardhan rushes down the staircase.

Soon  both mother and daughter haul the miserably drunk Mr. Patwardhan up the staircase.   

Mrs. Joshi stands transfixed  not knowing what to do.

Her husband – Mr. Joshi – he comes out of the house  and he looks at the scene.

Mr. Joshi mutters: “Disgraceful” – and he takes his wife Mrs. Joshi inside. 

Words cannot describe the emotion of shame, humiliation, helplessness and hapless anger  the inwardly burning impotent rage  that Mrs. Patwardhan experiences at that moment.   

Now that the event is over  her tension dissolves  and though Mrs. Patwardhan still feels angry  with time  a few hours later  her anger also dissipates.

Her worries for the day over  Mrs. Patwardhan goes to sleep. 

The day is over.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Mrs. Patwardhan will be up in the morning  get busy with her chores and work  and everything will be okay throughout the day. 

It is only in the evening  when the sun begins to set  and it is time for her husband to come home  that the tension will begin to rise within her once again.

Now  Mrs. Patwardhan sleeps like a log.  

Next door  Mrs. Joshi pretends she is fast asleep.

Though her eyes are closed  in her mind’s eye  she can clearly visualize her husband’s surreptitiously silent movements as he makes sure that everyone is asleep.

Then  Mr. Joshi stealthily closes the door  and he sneaks out of the house in a furtive manner. 

Mrs. Joshi lies desolately on her barren bed in self-commiseration  feeling betrayed  and overcome by a sense of helplessness.

She deeply suffers her terrible sorrow in secret silence.

There is just one thought perambulating in Mrs. Joshi’s mind.

Mrs. Joshi feels that her neighbour Mrs. Patwardhan is luckier than her. 

Mrs. Patwardhan’s husband may be an alcoholic  but at least he is faithful. 

It is better to be the wife of a drunkard than to be a wife of a womanizer.

Yes  there is nothing worse than having an unfaithful husband. 

Mrs. Joshi thinks of Mrs. Patwardhan with envious sympathy. 

Mrs. Patwardhan has nothing to hide.

Everyone knows that her husband is a drunkard.

She can share her stigma with everyone. 

But – Mrs. Joshi has everything to hide.

No one knows that her husband is a womanizer.

No one in the chawl knows about his lecherous affairs  or  at least  Mrs. Joshi thinks that no one knows.

Mrs. Joshi has to bear her grief all alone. 

And then  as the night advances  the tension begins to rise within her. 

Mrs. Joshi’s tension will never dissipate  the stress, the strain, the pain – they will just keep on increasing – till one day something will snap within her.     

The public shame the drunkard’s wife Mrs. Patwardhan suffers is bad enough. 

Many people make fun of her. 

Some people humiliate her. 

But a few people also sympathize with her.

It is the womanizer’s wife Mrs. Joshi who we must really pity  as she suffers her private ignominy in secret. 

Every moment  Mrs. Joshi secretly dies a hundred deaths inside  unknown to the others  while she keeps up a façade  a pretence – and wears a mask of make-believe  that everything is fine on the outside.

Is secret sorrow is worse than public shame...?

Is the fear of your secret sorrow being found out more painful than the stigma of public humiliation...?    
I wonder which is more painful: 

Secret Sorrow or Public Shame...? 

But one thing is sure  they both cause a tremendous amount of stress, strain and pain.

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.

Revised Version of My Fiction Story Written by Me in the year 2004 and earlier posted online under the title TENSION on my creative writing blog by me 

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