Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Office Wife versus Housewife

Short Fiction Story - A Delightful Romance

From my Creative Writing Archives:

A delightful flirty romance I wrote around 12 years ago – in 2005

OFFICE-WIFE versus HOUSE-WIFE – a story by Vikram Karve


Fergusson College Road

Vaishali Restaurant. 

5 PM on a Sunday evening. 


Crammed full. 


All tables occupied chock-a-block. 

Aisles teeming with people waiting with watchful eyes for signs of someone finishing their refreshments. 

Suddenly I see a woman waving to me, beckoning me with her hand. 
Her face seems familiar – oh yes  she is Ravi’s wife
She is sitting all alone on a table for two with a half eaten masala dosa in front of her.
I walk towards her and give her a smile.
“Sit down, sit down,” she says to me, gesturing with her hand towards the empty chair opposite her, “Come on. Sit down here with me, otherwise you will have to wait for hours.”
I sit down opposite her and say: “Thanks.”
Ravi’s wife summons a waiter and orders peremptorily: “SPDP...”
“Two SPDP...?” the waiter asks.
“No  one SPDP for Madam,” she says pointing to the empty plate in front of me without even bothering to ask me, “and  get one Kachori for me.”
Before I can recover my wits  she says: “You like SPDP don’t you...? Ravi told me.”
“Yes  I love the SPDP at Vaishali. In fact  I come all the way here every Sunday…”
“To spend the day reading in the library opposite followed by an SPDP at Vaishali...” she completes my sentence.
Ravi told you all this?”
“Of course. Ravi has told me everything about you. Ravi admires you so much  he always talks about you.” 
“Really...? But he never tells me anything about you...” I say to Ravi’s wife.
“What’s there to tell about me...? I am only his Housewife. You are his Office Wife...” she says.
“Come on. Please don’t say that. There is nothing like that between me and Ravi. We are just colleagues – workmates. That’s all...” I say.
“Workmates...? You are his SOULMATE – but  I am only his MATE...!!!” Ravi’s wife remarks sarcastically to me.
I am struck dumb  I feel a bit uneasy  but suddenly  the plate of SPDP is kept in front of me  so I look down – and  I begin to eat.
“I’m sorry...” she says, “Please don’t get angry. I was just teasing. I want you to be Ravi’s friend. He likes you so much. That’s why he is so happy in office and he doing so well in his work.”
I stop eating – I look up at her vacuously, wondering what to say.
But – before I can speak – Ravi’s wife says to me: Ravi appreciates you so much – that he even brings you home to me every evening in his thoughts and talks – that’s why I wanted to meet you.”
“We’ve met before…”
“Only once – and that too only an introduction  at the Office Annual Day get-together. We are hardly married for three months  you know  and you all are so busy in the office  with your targets and all  so I decided to meet you, to talk to you  to get to know you better – and  to make a friendship with you…”
“You mean this is no coincidence – are you telling me that my suddenly meeting you here in Vaishali is not a coincidence…?”
“Ha Ha  I contrived this coincidence. I came to the library also  but you were so busy browsing books that I did not want to disturb you  so I waited here in Vaishali knowing you would surely come for your SPDP...”
“You’re not eating your Kachori...” I say, trying to change the direction of the conversation.
“Here, you eat,” she says pushing her untouched plate of Kachori and the katori of whipped curds towards me, “I am all full – I ate a Cheese Uttapam, Idli-Vada Sambar, God-knows-what  while waiting for you to come…” 
I start eating my SPDP (Sev Potato Dahi Puri)
Ravi’s wife leans forward  and  she casually picks up a Sev Potato Dahi Puri from my plate – she pops the SPDP into her mouth and she says: “Wow. I love the chatpata flavour of SPDP – you call it Umami taste or something – that’s what you told Ravi  isn’t it...?”
“I think I’ll go now...” I say  feeling distinctly uncomfortable  making up my mind to have a long talk with Ravi in the office – the moment I meet him in the morning at work.
“No, No, Don’t Go  I want to show you something...” Ravi’s wife says to me.
“Show me something...?”
“Yes  that’s why I came all the way here to meet you...”
We finish the SPDP and Kachori. 
I insist on paying the bill  she doesn’t object too much.
And then  she takes me to the drapery section of the Shopping Mall nearby.
“We are furnishing our new house...” she says  pointing at the curtain cloth on display.
I look at her – feeling clueless.
Then Ravi’s wife says to me: “I like yellow  you like blue. And – ever since you have told Ravi about the aesthetic cool tranquil beauty of the blue colour  Ravi is besotted with everything blue – blue shirts, blue trousers, blue table-covers, blue bed-sheets, blue napkins – everything blue – that you make him buy…”
I look furtively and self-consciously at the blue dress I am wearing  and I say to Ravi’s wife: “Okay  tell me which curtains you like.”
Ravi’s wife points to a bright yellow floral print and says: “I like that yellow curtain  I love bright yellow  so lively and cheerful  I hate sober gloomy colours  especially blue  it depresses me.”
Next morning at the office  Ravi says to me: “Hey  keep yourself free in the evening. We will go to Deccan for some shopping. You’ve got to help me select curtains for our new home. Then we’ll have SPDP at Vaishali.”
“Sure, Ravi  I will love to come with you and help you select curtains for your new home...” I say.
She is the housewife  she likes yellow.
I am the office wife  I like blue. 
And – one thing is sure. 
Ravi will buy whatever I tell him – after all – I am the office-wife – not a mere housewife.
Now – I have got time till evening to decide one thing:
Which colour curtains should I tell Ravi to buy – Blue Curtains – or  Yellow Curtains – my choice  or – her choice...?

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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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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