Monday, March 6, 2017

The Darling – Feel Good Romance – Old Fashioned Love Story

Short Fiction
More than 20 years ago – in the 1990– I visited Mussoorie Dehradun etc. 
I liked the places so much that I wrote a few stories set in those locations.
Here is an updated and abridged version of once such story – The Darling  A Feel Good Romance  An Old Fashioned Love Story. 
It made me feel good when I wrote it. 
I am sure it will make you feel good too when you read it...!
Dear Reader: Do comment and let me know if you liked the story...
THE DARLING – an old fashioned Love Story by Vikram Karve
I felt good
My eyes feasted on the snow-clad Himalayan Mountain peaks painted honey-gold by the first rays of sunlight.

Behind me, deep down, was the resplendent Doon valley.

I breathed in slowly, mouth and nose together, relishing the pure, cold, nourishing mountain air.

I felt on top of the world, literally and figuratively, as I stood high in the middle of nowhere on a refreshingly cold bright morning, undecided what I was going to do, or where I was going to go.

What greater freedom than not having anything to do or anywhere to go!

I felt I was flying like a bird in the sky, with no one to take my freedom away.

“Something exciting is going to happen today,” said a tingling sensation within me, as if I were on the top of a high roller-coaster ready to plunge into unknown depths.

Suddenly, at the spur of the moment I decided to visit Victor, and with a spring in my step started walking towards Landour.

“Who’s Piyu...?” I asked Victor, picking up and opening the book lying on the bedside table.

“Piyu...?” Victor said, his voice feigning ignorance but his eyes gave him away.

“Yes. Piyu. It’s written here in this bookTo my darling Victor, with fond memories of those wonderful moments at Port Blair. Love Piyu And Wow...!!! Look at the lovely cursive feminine handwriting. So delicate. If her handwriting is so beautiful  she must be really gorgeous. A real beauty...!!! Tell me. Who is she...? Who is Piyu...?” I asked teasingly.

“Shalini, you should not pry into others’ private matters,” Victor said.

“Private? This is no personal diary. It is a book called ‘Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov’. I am taking it with me to read.”

“No,” Victor shouted and started to move his wheelchair towards me.

I know I had touched a raw nerve.

“I’m sorry,” I said and gave him the book.

He opened it and stared at Piyu’s handwriting.

“I thought there were no secrets between us,” I said.

“There aren’t,” he said.

“Except Piyu...?”

“Please Shalu…….”

“You want to tell me about her?”

“Okay,” Victor said. And then he told me. About Piyu. And him. And their days in Port Blair. Maybe not everything. But whatever he wanted to tell me, he told me.

“Piyu ? A funny name?” I said.

“That’s what I called her. Like you call me Victor.”

I left it at that and said, “Now there are no secrets between us?”

“No! Now there are no secrets between us!” Victor said and gave me the book, “Read it, Shalu. There’s a story called ‘The Darling’. You are just like the heroine. Always trying to mother me.”

“That’s because you are a naughty boy,” I teased.

“Naughty boy? I’m almost an old man. You should play with girls of your own age.”

“Play? You think I’m a small kid to play Barbie Doll? And you’re not that old either. You are just thirty.”

“I am twice your age.”

“Girls mature faster,” I said. “And your mental age is the same as mine.”

“Come on. You’re just a kid compared to me. I am a man of the world with a lot of experiences.”

“Like Piyu ………” I bit my tongue and said, “I’m sorry.”

“Piyu is a closed chapter,” Victor said.

“I’ve forgotten her,” I said “Piyu will never come between us again.”


“I Promise.”

“Shalu, why don’t you come to meet me more often?” Victor asked.

“I don’t want to disturb you too much,” I replied.

“Disturb me?” he smiled. “It is impossible to disturb me. You see, I never do anything. Every day is a holiday for me, from morning to night, from the moment I get up to the moment I sleep, there is nothing to do, nothing to look forward to...”

“Don’t speak like that,” I said.

“Okay. But please come more often, Shalu. You make me feel good.”

“You too make me feel good!” I said.

It was true.

Talking to someone who needs comforting seems to make one’s own troubles go away.

“I’ll come on Wednesday. We’ve got a holiday,” I said.


“Yes. We’ll discuss Anton Chekhov,” I said holding up the book.

“The Darling?”

“The Darling!” I said.

“Okay. Bye. Take care,” he said and lovingly looked at me as I began to walk away.

Victor had come into my life on a cold and rainy evening just a few months back.

I had slipped and fractured my leg playing basketball. It was a simple fracture.

Victor was convalescing from a severe injury to both his legs. His was a complex case, and for months he was confined to a wheelchair not knowing whether or when he would be able to walk again.

Actually  his name wasn’t Victor 

His real name was Vivek 

But everyone called him Victor  so I too started calling him Victor.

At first I called him Victor uncle

But as our friendship grew  somewhere on the way  the ‘uncle’ dropped. 

And now  there were no secrets between us.

On Tuesday evening – I rushed to see Victor bunking my self-study period.

“A clandestine visit...” I joked.

“Better be careful, Shalu. If your warden finds out – she may think something wrong is going on.”

“Let her think what she wants to think...” I said, “I came to tell you I won’t be coming tomorrow.”

“Oh, No...!!! I was looking forward to discussing Anton Chekhov with you.”

“Daddy is coming to Dehradun for some urgent work. He wants me to meet him at the station. He rang up the Principal for permission.”

“That’s great. I’m dying to meet your Dad. Make sure you bring him up here to Mussoorie.”

“I’ll try,” I said.

“You must. I want to ask him for your hand...” he said, tongue-in-cheek.

“How cute...” I said coyly.

“I’ll miss you...” he said.

“Take care...” he said.

“You too take care. Okay Bye,” I said and rushed back to my hostel.

On Wednesday morning  I left Mussoorie at 6 AM – by the first bus – and I reached Dehradun Railway Station just in time for the Mussoorie Express from Delhi which steamed in at 8 AM.

Daddy was the first to get down from the AC coach  and – the moment he saw me – his face lit up  and he gave me a tight warm hug and smothered my cheeks with kisses.

“Please Papa,” I said embarrassed, “People are looking.”

“I feel so good when I see you, Shalu,” he said.

Papa kept the bag he was holding next to me and said, “Look after this. I’ll get the rest of the luggage.”

He beckoned to a porter and went back into the coach.

“Rest of the luggage?” I wondered.

Normally Papa travelled light, with just one bag.”

Soon there were three bags, a basket and a tall young woman with a small child in her arms standing beside Papa.

“Shalu, this is Ms. Bhattacharya. We travelled together from Delhi,” Papa introduced the woman  who smiled a sweet hello  and we began following the porter to the exit.

I looked at the woman through the corner of my eye. 

She was a real beauty – fair  with a skin like smooth cream. 

She looked straight ahead – as if looking at a distant object  and she walked on expressionless.

But  I noticed the way my Papa stole glances at her when he thought I wasn’t looking  and I knew – that she was much more than a mere fellow passenger.

I felt a tingle of excitement. 

Something was brewing. 

Maybe Papa was falling in love. 

10 years after mummy had gone.

My father walked with a spring in his step  pulling in his stomach – and thrusting his chest out.

“You seem very happy, Papa,” I said mischievously.

“Yes. Yes.” he said, “I’m so happy to see you, Shalu. You look so good.”

My father opened the door of the taxi and he looked at the beautiful woman called Ms. Bhattacharya.

Though he tried his best to mask the expression on his face – the undisguised love in his eyes was clearly visible. 

It seemed a desperate case of thunderbolt.

I decided to have a bit of fun – so I quickly got in the car  and I said: “Thanks, Papa  for treating me like a lady.”

Then  I looked at the woman and said to her: “Bye  Auntie...

“Auntie is coming with us...” Papa said, “Shalu – you sit in front.”

“It’s okay, I’ll sit in front...” Ms. Bhattacharya said.

“There’s place for all of us at the back,” I said, “We can keep the basket in front next to the driver.”

I shifted  Ms. Bhattacharya sat next to me with the baby on her lap – Papa sat next to her on the other side  and we drove in silence through Palton Bazar towards Rajpur road.

I kept quiet  waiting for Papa to tell me everything  but he remained silent  probably because of the driver.

He got off outside an office and he said: “You two can go to the guest house and freshen up. I’ll join you after finishing my work.

We sat alone at the breakfast table. 

The baby was sleeping inside. 

I looked at Ms. Bhattacharya. 

She looked so elegant  yet so youthful.



Late 20’s...


Or maybe  a bit younger.

I was dying to ask her everything  wondering what to say  when Ms. Bhattacharya looked into my eyes and she spoke softly to me: 

“Shalu  I want to be your mother.”

I was touched by the way she phrased it.

I can’t begin to describe the emotions I felt  but instinctively  I blurted out: “Why didn’t Papa tell me...?”

Ms. Bhattacharya touched my hand and she said: “Your father felt embarrassed. You know how shy he is. He wanted me to tell you. And – he wants to leave the decision to you.” 

She paused, and said; “I know it’s difficult for you. I promise you that we will do whatever you want. But try to understand. Your Papa feels very lonely.”

“And you...?” I asked.

“I am lonely too...” she said, tears welling up in her eyes.

Suddenly she started to cry into her handkerchief.

“I’m sorry...” she said – and she got up – and – she went into her room.

I sat confused.

She had been so calm and composed. 

And suddenly – she broke down in tears.

Had I said something wrong...?

Maybe  I was too young to understand. 

All I wanted was that Papa should be happy  everyone should be happy  even the beautiful woman called Ms. Bhattacharya should be happy.

Ms. Bhattacharya came out of the room. 

She had washed up  done up her face.

She looked so beautiful, so vulnerable  that I instantly felt like hugging her.

Something inside told me that she would make Papa very happy. 

And me too...!!!

“I’m sorry,” she said, “It’s just that sometimes – you wait for a moment – and when the moment comes – you don’t know what to do with it...”

 “I like you,” I said. “I know you’ll make Papa happy. Only  I wish Papa had told me. Shall I call you mummy...?”

She smiled and said: “Come on, Shalini. Be my friend. Call me Priya”...”

“Okay,” I held out my hand, “Priya, let’s be friends. And you call me Shalu.”

“Shalu – actually even I wanted your Papa to tell you...” she said.

“He must have been embarrassed.”


“Yes. Papa must have felt awkward to tell me that he’s fallen in love at his age.”

“He’s only 43.”

“And you, Priya...?”

“28. Oh come on  I shouldn’t be telling you my age.”

“You look 25...” I said.

She blushed. 

The baby cried. 

She went inside.

I went into my room and lay on the bed. 

What a day...!!! 

I just couldn’t wait to tell Victor all this. 

He would die laughing. 

Maybe I should marry him. 

We are so happy together. 

If Papa can marry Priya  why can’t I marry Victor...?

They – 43 and 28 – Adult Love...!!!

We – 15 and 30 – Puppy Love...?

It’s not fair  isn’t it...?

I drifted into sleep.

When I woke up, Papa was sitting beside me on the bed.

“It’s past one,” he said. “Let’s go for lunch.”

“Why didn’t you tell me, Papa?” I asked.

His cheeks, his ears became red. He avoided my eyes.

“I guessed it the moment I saw you two at the station,” I said.

“You’ve really grown up, Shalu,” Papa said. “I’m so happy you have accepted her and your little brother.”

“Brother?” I said dumbstruck, and slowly comprehension dawned on me. 

I closed my eyes. 

All sorts of thoughts entered my brains. 

And suddenly everything was clear. 

“Oh yes. My little brother.”

Lunch passed off in a trance and soon we were on our way to Mussoorie. 

I wanted to go alone by bus, but Papa wouldn’t hear of it. 

He had work at the site office near Mussoorie and Priya wanted to see my school. 

She hadn’t been to Mussoorie before.

It was almost 5 PM when Papa got off at the site office and we – Priya and Me – we were cruising on the Mall on the way to my school. 

Priya was looking out of the window as if searching for something. 

Suddenly she asked the driver to stop.

“I have to get something. Please look after the baby for a moment,” she said.

I took the baby in my lap and saw her enter Hackman’s, the biggest departmental store in Mussoorie.

She returned fast. 

“A small gift for you, Shalu...” she said  giving me a gift-wrapped packet and an envelope containing a greeting card.

I opened the envelope. 

It was a ‘Thank-you’ card.

She had written a message on the inside of the card:  “…To my darling daughter and friend, Shalini…”

I kept on starting at the beautiful handwriting – unable to read further.

Instantly – I recognized the same unique familiar lovely cursive handwriting  so feminine – so delicate.

Tremors started reverberating in my stomach, like a roller coaster. 

My pulse was racing. 

The car negotiated the steep road past Picture-Palace up the winding slopes of Landour.

“Priya, look,” I said pointing out of the car window, “that’s the oldest building in Mussoorie. It’s called Mullingar. Isn’t it just like the Cellular Jail...?”

“Yes,” she said.

“So – you have seen Cellular Jail...?” I asked.

“Of course,” she said. “Many times.”

“You have been to Port Blair...?” I persisted.

“Yes. I have lived in Port Blair. It’s a lovely place,” she said.

“How lucky,” I said. “I have only seen pictures of Cellular Jail.”


Pregnant silence.

Then I spoke – looking at her child seated on her lap: “Baby. He’s so cute. How old is he...?”

“Six months...” she said.

“You haven’t named him...?

“Oh yes,” she said, “we call him Baby  his real name is Vivek.”


“Yes. Vivek...,” she said “It’s a nice name – isn’t it?”

“Yes...” I answered, “Vivek is a really nice name...

I patted the driver on the shoulder and said to him: “Seedha Le Chalo. Jaldi. Drive fast. To Landour Hospital.”

“Hospital...?” Priya asked flabbergasted.

“I want you to meet someone...” I said.

The car stopped outside the hospital. 

“Come,” I said, and Priya holding her baby in her arms followed me towards the door of Victor’s room.

I opened the door and said, “Come Piyu. You go right in. Your Victor is waiting for you  he is waiting for both of you.”

I didn’t wait to see the expression on her face.

I quickly turned and ran to the car and shouted to the driver, “Driver – jaldi karo. Be quick. Take me to the site office. Fast.”

As the car descended down the steep slopes of Landour, past Char-Dukan, towards Picture Palace at the end of the Mall, I took out Anton Chekhov’s book from my purse.

I’ll have plenty of time to read it now.

Maybe I’ll keep it as a souvenir to remember Victor.

I opened the book, read on the first page: “To my darling Victor…Love. Piyu.”

I took out my cell-phone and sent an SMS to Victor: Happy Reunion...!!!

Then  I turned the pages of the book and I began reading Anton Chekhov’s enthralling short story The Darling

As I write this  I am feeling good.

Yes  I am feeling good.

Don’t ask me why...

Happiness goes when you speak of it.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

All stories in this blog are 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)

This is an abridged updated revised repost of my story THE DARLING written by me more than 20 years ago in the 1990s and posted online a number of times in my various blogs including at urls:  and and etc

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