Sunday, April 14, 2024

Unfinished Romance – My Muse


Short Fiction






Short Fiction 

Unfinished Romance


My Muse – Story by Vikram Karve


Pune – circa 2006




There is a saying:

The best kind of friendship is one where two people love the same books

We – Manisha and I – we loved the same books – so – we became the best of friends.


Let me tell you how we met.


I love reading books.

For me – reading is one of the greatest joys.

When you read – you transcend your immediate surroundings – and you are transported into a world of thought and reflection.

In contrast – a person who does not read is imprisoned in his immediate world.


One positive aspect of my life in the Navy is that I got plenty of opportunity to read good books and literature.

The Navy had well-stocked libraries and reading books and journals was encouraged.

For me – a library was an essential part of my life.

That is why – after I retired from the Navy and settled down in Pune – one of the first things I did was to join a Library.


In contrast – most of my Veterans Friends took up golf – or other such pastimes – so they joined various clubs and groups – after retirement.

But – as I told you – I loved books – and I intended to spend my time reading (and writing) – so – I took membership of the best library in Pune.






I met Manisha on my very first day in the library.

While browsing books in the literature section of the library – I heard a feminine voice call out to me softly.

I looked up from the book in my hands.

She was a pretty girl – maybe around 20.

“Are you Mr. Vikram…?” the girl asked me.

“Yes…” I said to her.

“My name is Manisha – I like your stories…” she said.

“Thank you. Manisha…” I said to her, “do you follow my blog…?”

“Of course, I follow your blog – I have even subscribed to it – in fact – I recognized you from your blog profile picture…” she said to me.


On hearing her words – I felt good.

It feels good to be recognized – especially after retirement – when you are a “non-entity…”


I looked at Manisha.

“Do you like my stories…?” I asked her – wanting to hear some praise to boost my ego.

“Of course – I like your stories – you write so well…” she said to me.

I felt elated on hearing her words – so – I smiled at Manisha.

“Thank you…” I said to her.

“I like your first story the best – “Rendezvous at Sunrise” – and – I like your romantic stories – but – your latest story – I did not like the story very much – I think you are trying to experiment – but I feel you should stick to your original natural style of writing…” she said, candidly.

For a moment – I was taken aback.

Seeing the expression on my face – she seemed contrite.

“Oh – I am sorry…” she began to apologize – when I interrupted her.

“No. No – don’t feel sorry – in fact – I appreciate you for your honest feedback – but you must tell me exactly where I am going wrong – so that I can improve my writing…” I said to her.

I could see a bit of hesitancy on her face – so – I decided to ease her reluctance.

“I really want your feedback – please tell me exactly what you didn’t like about my writing style in my latest story – I will appreciate it very much…” I said to her.

“Okay – let’s go to the internet terminal – I will show you…” she said.

We walked across to the internet room in the library – we sat in front of the monitor – I opened my blog – and – she discussed my latest story in a most free and frank manner.

“Look at the ending of this story – it is so abrupt – it leaves the reader unsatisfied and confused…” she said.

I wanted to tell her about Hemingway – his Iceberg Theory – but it she seemed to read my mind.

She looked at me and spoke in an earnest voice.

“Don’t try to imitate famous authors – just write in your own unique style – like most of your earlier stories – let me show you…” she said – and – she scrolled down my blog and opened my first story – “Rendezvous with Sunrise” – and – she compared it with my latest story – then she showed me some my earlier stories – and I clearly understood her point of view.

I was amazed that she had read my stories so carefully – and – this filled me with a sense of happiness and pride.

“Thank you so much…” I said to Manisha, “you are the first person who has given me such a thorough critique of my writing – I will certainly consider all the points you have told me when I write – but you must keep giving me feedback…”

“Of course…” she said to me, “you write a story during the week and post it by Saturday – I will read it immediately – and we will discuss your story on Sunday – when we meet here at the library…”


I loved her enthusiasm and zest – she was a really passionate reader – and most importantly – she liked my writing.

In fact – it was first time someone had taken such keen interest in my writing – and – I felt good.

I smiled at her.

“Yes – that’s a great idea – I will look forward to discussing my stories with you…” I said to her.


I marvelled at her acumen and faculty – she looked so young – but she had profound insight into the finer aspects of creative writing and literature.


Her voice interrupted my thoughts.

“Shall we go back and see some short story books…?” she said to me.

We went back to the literary section of the library.

We browsed a few short fiction anthologies together – we showed each other our favorite stories – and – we realized that our literary tastes were similar.


As I had said earlier:

“The best kind of friendship is one where two people love the same books”


Well – our literary tastes matched – metaphorically – “we loved the same “books” – and – I could sense that it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Manisha and Me.


Time passed fast.

After browsing in the literary section – we went to the magazine section – and I showed her some literary journals which featured contemporary creative writing and short fiction.


After some time – Manisha looked at me.

“I am feeling hungry – let’s go across to Vaishali for a snack…” Manisha said to me.

“Okay…” I said – I was feeling hungry too.

We crossed the road – luckily a table was vacant in the normally crowded restaurant.

Manisha ordered a Masala Dosa – I ordered an Onion Uttapam – and we talked.

“You really know a lot about literature…” I said to Manisha.

“I am a student of literature…” she said.

“You are so lucky…” I said to her.

“Lucky…? Why…?” she asked me.

“I wish I could have studied literature instead of spending the best years of my life time studying science, engineering, technology which were so painful…” I said wistfully, “but in our time – we weren’t given a choice…”

“But you write so well – and you know so much about literature…” she said.

“I always loved reading – so – though I did different work – reading and writing were always my interests – my hobbies…” I said to her.

“The best writers are engineers, doctors – most haven’t formally studied literature…” she said, matter-of-factly.


And – we talked and talked – about literature – about books – and then – we went back to the library – and browsed and selected books – till closing time – 6 PM – in the evening.


“Do you come to the library often…?” I asked Manisha – as we stood outside the library.

“On my college days – I come whenever I get time – but – I make it a point to come to the library every Sunday…” she said.

“I will also come every Sunday…” I said to her, “I live quite far away – so – I will write throughout the week – and – I will come to the library every Sunday…”

“That’s great – let’s meet over here next Sunday – I’ll be here at 11 AM – when the library opens…” she said to me.

“I’ll post my new story by Saturday…” I said to her.

“Yes – I will read it – and – we will discuss your story over here on Sunday morning…” she said to me, “11 AM – next Sunday – I’ll be here…”

And then – she smiled a sweet goodbye – and – she walked away.


Next Sunday – I was sitting on the bench outside the library at 10:45 AM – waiting for the library to open – and – of course – eagerly waiting for Manisha to arrive.

I wanted to know her views on the story I had written that week and posted on my blog on Saturday.

Manisha arrived at 11 AM

She was all excited about my story.

“I read your story three times – it is so engrossing…” she said, “you write really well…”

“And…?” I said – waiting for her critical feedback.

“The ending is too abrupt…” she said.

“But – that’s my style…” I said to her.

“Then – you must try and change your style. You write your stories for readers – don’t you…? Most readers like happy endings – or – at least – they like smooth endings – well – at least I do…” she said to me.

“Thank you for your feedback – I will try to improve my endings – now – let’s go inside and see the endings of some good short stories – maybe I can learn something…” I said to her.

“Yes. Yes. Let’s do that – it will be so exciting…” she said.









One week later – on Sunday – I was sitting on the bench outside the library at 10:45 AM – waiting for the library to open – and – of course – eagerly waiting for Manisha to arrive.

I wanted to know her views on my latest story – especially on the ending of the story – a “happy ending” as suggested by her.


A woman came and stood at the entrance of the library.

I noticed that the woman was looking curiously at me.

I looked at the woman who was looking at me.

She looked chic.

Blue Jeans, bright red top (pullover/tucked-in T-Shirt), fair creamy (flawless) complexion, jet black hair neatly tied in a bun – and – dark Ray-Ban sunglasses of the latest style.

She was a good-looking woman with smart feminine features – elegant – fashionable – chic – graceful – well-groomed.

When the woman saw me looking at her – she smiled – and she walked towards me.

“Are you Mr. Vikram…?” the woman asked me.

“Yes…” I said to her.

“Manisha won’t be coming today…” she said.

“Oh…” I said, “I hope she is well…”

“Manisha is fit and fine…” the woman said.

“Oh…” I said – wondering who this woman was – when the woman suddenly spoke.

“I am Manisha’s mother…” the woman said, “I have told her not to come here…”

“You have told her not to come here…?” I said – confused.

“Yes – I don’t want my daughter Manisha to have any relationship with you…” the woman said – in a firm voice.

“Relationship…? With me…?” I said – taken aback.

“I don’t want my daughter getting romantically involved with you…” the woman said.

“Romantically Involved…? Are you insinuating that I am having a love affair with Manisha…?” I asked the woman – in an angry voice.

“You certainly seem to be getting close to her…” she said to me.

“What nonsense…!!! I am double her age…” I said, emphatically.

“You are not double her age – you are three times her age – Manisha is just 20 and you must be more than 60…” the woman said mockingly.

“How does that matter…? Can’t we be friends…?” I said, assertively.

“Friends…? You should be friends with her grandmother – even I am too young for you…” the woman said, sardonically.

“Please stop talking nonsense…” I said, angrily.

“It is not nonsense – Manisha is 20 – I am 42 – and – my mother is in her early 60’s – around your age…” the woman said, wryly.

I decided to make things clear to her – so – I spoke to her in a firm matter-of-fact tone of voice.

“I don’t see what’s your problem…? Let me make it clear – Manisha and I – ours is just a clean friendship – we meet just once a week – on Sundays – here in the library – we discuss books and literature and writing – sometimes – we have a Dosa and Coffee in the café opposite the library – and then – we say goodbye – and go home…” I said to the woman, Manisha’s mother.

“What about the book fair – the literary festival…?” Manisha’s mother said.

“Those are literary events…” I was saying – when Manisha’s mother interrupted me.

“You have got too involved with my daughter…” Manisha’s mother said.

“What…? Involved…? Me…? With Manisha…? Not at all…” I protested.

“Well – she is certainly emotionally involved with you – she is under your influence – you have spoilt her – she should have friends of her age – but she only likes you – isn’t that abnormal for a young college girl…?” Manisha’s mother said to me.

“I don’t know what you are trying to say…” I said, confused.

Manisha’s mother gave me a hard look and spoke in a firm tone.

“I want you want you to stop your relationship with Manisha…” she said, in an imperative tone of voice, as if she was commanding me to obey.

I felt outraged at the way Manisha’s mother was talking to me – so I spoke angrily.

“Please talk to me properly – I am a respectable Navy Veteran – your daughter and me – we are just pure friends – don’t you dare make such insinuations – as if we are having some sort of immoral relationship or affair…” I said, indignantly.

“Though you don’t realize it – you two are indeed having an affair…” she was saying – when I interrupted her rudely.

“Please stop it…!!! How can you even say such dirty things…?” I said to her, with disgust.

“I didn’t say you are having a physical affair – but – you are certainly having an emotional affair – you are in an emotional relationship with her – think about it….” she said, giving me a meaningful look.

I looked at her – trying to comprehend her words – when I heard her voice.

“I want this to stop – I don’t want you to see her again – I want Manisha to be her age – to hang around with friends of her age – not with old fogeys like you – so – I have told her not to meet you – Manisha won’t be coming to the library on Sundays…” Manisha’s mother said.

“Oh…” I said, feeling disappointed.

“Please don’t try to contact my daughter – otherwise…” she said – in a rather threatening tone.

I was angry – very angry – with this rude and insolent woman.

I wanted to tell her off – to rebuke her for her impertinence and intemperate words – but – I controlled myself – and – I turned and started walking towards the library entrance.

“You better find some friends of your age…” the impertinent woman said to me – as a parting shot – as I entered the library.








One week later – on Sunday – I reached the library just before the opening time of 11 AM – hoping against hope that Manisha would be there.

But – there was no one outside the library.

I hadn’t been able to write a story that week – writer’s block – maybe – because I was upset because of the previous Sunday’s unpleasant encounter with Manisha’s mother – but more so – at the prospect of not being able to meet Manisha ever again.



The moment the library opened – I went inside – and – as per my habit – first – I walked into the reading room.

On the magazine rack in the reading room – I was delighted to see the latest issue of Granta – my favorite literary magazine.

I picked up the magazine – sat down on a chair and started reading.

I was engrossed reading a story in the magazine when I heard a feminine voice call out my name.

“Mr. Vikram…?” the feminine voice said.

I looked up from the magazine.

The feminine voice belonged to a nice-looking lady.

She looked refined and graceful and carried herself with an air of confidence and poise. She was a blend of classic elegance and modern finesse and exuded an aura of charm. She must have been an exceptional beauty in her younger days – and – even now – she looked alluring – and she had a unique captivating charisma.

She smiled at me – I smiled back.

I was attracted to her – and – I instinctively gave her my inimitable look of genuine admiration that is worth a thousand compliments.

She blushed a bit – and spoke softly.

“May I sit down – I want to talk to you…” she said.

“Of course – please sit down…” I said – getting up from my chair as a courtesy.

We sat down next to each other – she looked directly into my eyes and spoke in a friendly tone.

“I am Manisha’s grandmother…” she said to me.


Story to be continued…



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

1. This story is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. 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.
3. E&OE

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