Coursemates

COURSEMATES
Fiction Short Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE
PROLOGUE
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”
This quote by American Poet Maya Angelou is so true – at least in my case.
I have so many untold stories inside me – and – I want to tell them as quickly as possible – to alleviate the “agony” of bearing untold stories inside me.
Dear Reader:
The story I am going to tell you – well – I kept it inside me – for a long time – untold – and – even now – I am quite hesitant to tell you this story – because I had promised someone that I would keep it to myself – but now – I must tell you this story – and mitigate the “agony” of carrying the burden of untold stories.
COURSEMATES – Story by Vikram Karve
This story happened long ago when I was on the faculty of IAT Girinagar Pune.
Girinagar is a picturesque and most verdant place – surrounded by green densely forested hills.
Every evening – I would walk up the steep climb to the top of Girinagar Hill.
The view from Girinagar Hill is awesome.
You can see the backwaters of Panshet and Varasgaon Dams in the distance – and close-by – down below – is the serene expanse of the blue waters of Khadakwasla Lake – held back by the mighty Khadakwasla Dam.
The metamorphosis at sunset is enthralling.
The dance of colours – on the waters of the lake – from yellow to orange to crimson to blue to grey to black – and – a corresponding synchronized panoply of colours in the sky.
And then – twilight – followed by a still darkness.
Every evening – I would watch this fascinating spectacle of sunset – and then – I would leisurely walk down – relaxed in mind and body – have a comforting hot shower – enjoy a leisurely drink or two – and eat a fulfilling dinner – then drowse off into tranquil soothing sleep – sheer bliss.
One evening – when I reached the top of Girinagar Hill – I saw a young woman standing there – a beautiful youthful lady – she looked very pretty in Jeans and a Red T-Shirt – which suited her slim and trim figure very well.  
I recognized her at once – she was Mrs. “R” – the wife of a “student” officer.
Dear Reader – let me digress and tell you that – at that point of time – I was the “Officer-in-Charge” of an Advanced Post Graduate Course – aka – “Course OIC”.
The “Students” of that course were Naval Officers of roughly 10 years’ commissioned service – senior Lieutenants.
In those days – around 35 years ago – in the 1980’s – in the Navy – you were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant after 3 years’ commissioned service – you remained in the rank of Lieutenant for 8 long years – and then – you were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander after 11 years’ commissioned service.
Most of the “student officers” were newly-married – yes – most of them had got married after finishing off their sea-time – just before coming for the 2 years’ long course – and – a few were married for 2-3 years and had small babies – and – sometimes – there was a solitary bachelor.
Mrs. “R” had married Lieutenant “R” while he was doing the course – and – they were married for around 6 months. For them – it was “honeymoon time” on the course – in the lovely “hill station” environment of Girinagar.
Mrs. “R” smiled at me.
I smiled back at her.  
“Good to see you here…” I said, “The air is so pure and the view is so lovely – I come here every evening to watch sunset…”
“I know…” she said, “I have come to meet you…”
“You came here to meet me – over here…?” I said – my imagination aroused.
“Yes…” she said, “I thought this would be the best place where we could talk in private…”
“In private…?” I said – wondering what she had in mind.
“Yes…” she said, “my husband said that you were sending transfer recommendations…”
“Yes. In fact – I am going to Delhi myself for some work – so – I will go to DOP and get their transfer letters issued…” I said, “I will try and get all officers their first choice…”
“My husband had given INS Valsura Jamnagar as his first choice…” Mrs. “R” said.
“I know – that’s the best place for him to go – INS Valsura is a prestigious training establishment – ideal for your husband – he is topping the course – so instructional duties are most suitable for him – it will be good for his career too – besides – you will easily get married accommodation over there – which will be good for you too – so that you can enjoy a happy married life…” I said to Mrs. “R”.
“I believe Lieutenant “H” has also given the same choice of station…” Mrs. “R” said to me.
“Yes…” I said, “Lieutenant “H” has also given his first choice as INS Valsura. I am sure Lieutenant ”H” and your husband – both of them will get their first choice – since they like to appoint officers as instructors over there when they are fresh from their Post-Graduate Course…”
“That’s what I don’t want…” Mrs. “R” said.
“What do you mean…?” I asked her, “You don’t want to go to Jamnagar…?”  
“I don’t care where we go. But – I don’t want to go to the same place where Lieutenant “H” goes. I want to separate my husband from Lieutenant “H” – so – please transfer my husband to some other place – or – transfer Lieutenant “H’ to some other place – I don’t want both of them to be transferred to the same place…” Mrs. “R” said in a beseeching voice.
“Oh. But I thought that “H” and your husband were good friends…” I said.
“That’s the problem – they are not just friends – they are inseparable – “H” and my husband – they constantly want to be together – and – that is causing problems for me – and – affecting our marriage…” Mrs. “R” said.
“Affecting your marriage…?” I said, taken aback.
“Yes – there can’t be three persons in a marriage – isn’t it…?” she said.
“Three persons in a marriage…? I hope it is not what I am thinking. Is “H” trying to “misbehave” with you in any way…?” I said.
“No – No – Not at all. Lieutenant “H” is a thorough gentleman…” she said.
“That’s what I thought – from whatever I have observed as the OIC of the course – “H” seems to be a well-mannered and refined person – a good officer and a true gentleman…” I said.
“That’s true – but – how can I explain to you…?” she said.
“Well – you’ll have to tell me something…” I said.
Mrs. “R” paused for a moment – then she said to me:
“My husband and “H” – they have been close friends for over 12 years – in boarding school – in the Academy – and later – in the Navy – they were hostel-mates – course-mates – squadron-mates – and later – both joined the same Technical Branch so that they could do their degree engineering course together – they did their training together – they opted for Vizag so that they could be on ships based there – and now – they have come for this course together – someone told me that they could have opted for “M. Tech.” at IIT’s – but then – they may have got selected for different IIT’s – so – they opted for this course at IAT – so that they could be together for 2 years…”
“So – they are really good friends – “inseparable” – as you say…” I said.
“Yes – it’s terrible – they just can’t be without each other. And worse – it seems that “H” has got my husband under his spell…” she said.
“Under his Spell…? Your husband is “under his spell”…?” I asked – curious.
“My husband is constantly thinking of him – even when my husband is physically with me – it is “H” who is in my husband’s thoughts – it seems that my husband is in love with him – the way they behave – my husband and “H” – they seem to be in love with each other…” Mrs. “R” said.
“Love with each other…? Oh No…!!! I hope they are not…” I hesitated, “I don’t know how to say it…”
“Say what…?” she said.
“I hope they are not “Bum Chums” – I mean – have you noticed anything “unnatural” about their relationship…?” I said – feeling embarrassed.
“No. No…” she laughed, “I don’t think they have a “gay” relationship – it’s just intense brotherly love – a deep friendship…”
“That’s good…” I said.
“But – it’s an unequal friendship – “H” seems to dominate my husband – and – my husband “Hero Worships” him – my husband is devoted to “H” – as if “H” were his “God”…” she said, “My husband blindly listens to “H” – he wants to involve “H” in everything – and – I feel as if I am the “odd man out”…”
“Oh…” I said.
“Just yesterday – we wanted to go shopping – and – as usual – “H” tagged along – and – I wanted to buy yellow curtains and bedcovers – but “H” suggested blue – so – my husband bought blue curtains and bedcovers…” Mrs. “R” said, “He interferes in everything – and – my husband listens to him and ignores me…”  
“Should I talk to your husband – or – should I warn “H” to keep away…?” I said.
“No. No. It will make matters worse – and – my husband should never know that I spoke to you and told you all this…” she said, “I just want to separate them – I want to get “H” out of my husband’s life – and then – I will claim my husband for myself. It has to be done quietly and subtly. And – I thought the best way is to get them transferred to different places – and get “H” out of our lives. So – I thought it would be best to speak to you…”
“I will see what I can do…” I said.
“Please – you must help me – I am depending on you – I am ready to go to any place – as long as “H” is not there…” Mrs. “R” said.
“Okay – I will ensure that your husband and “H” are not posted at the same place…” I said.
“Thank you so much…” Mrs. “R” said, “I shall always remain grateful to you…”
While we were talking – the sun had gone below the horizon – the sky was enveloped with a light orange glow of the last rays of the sun from below the horizon.
Soon – twilight would descend – and – it would get dark.
So – I said to Mrs. “R”:
“It’s getting late – let’s go down before it gets dark…” 
We started walking back.
An amusing thought came to my mind – so – I smiled to myself.
“What are you thinking…?” Mrs. “R” asked me.
“Nothing…” I said.
“I know what you are thinking…” she said.
“No. No. I am not thinking anything…” I said.
“Are you wondering whether “H” came with us on our honeymoon…?” she asked with a mischievous smile.
“Did he…?” I asked her.
“Thankfully not…!!! But he had arranged everything – our honeymoon was a gift from “H”…” Mrs. “R” said.
“Did “H” oppose your marriage…? I mean – your husband and “H” were bosom friends – so maybe – “H” didn’t want to share his friend with anyone else…” I said.
“Well – he seemed to “approve” of me…” Mrs. “R” said, “When we send my photo – my husband showed my photo to “H” – he liked me – and later – he came along with his husband to our place when they had come to “see” me – and – he attended our marriage too…”
“That’s good…” I said, “At least – “H” is not jealous of you…”
“I am jealous of him – of his close friendship with my husband…” Mrs. “R” said, “I have to claim my husband for myself – and you are going to help me…”
“Yes…” I said, “I will ensure that your husband and “H” are posted as far apart as possible…”
“Thank you…” she said, “The campus is near. I will go ahead – it won’t look good if we are seen together. And by the way – my husband has called “H” for dinner – so – I will have to endure their “band of brothers” comradeship for the entire evening…”
A few days later – when I visited my friend at DOP in Delhi – I did the needful – and – Mrs. R’s husband – Lieutenant “R” – he was posted to Bangalore – and – Lieutenant “H” would go to Jamnagar (as per his choice).
(There was a billet vacant in Bangalore – and – it was sheer coincidence that Bangalore was the hometown of Lieutenant and Mrs. “R”…)
A few days later – when the transfer orders came and were distributed – at the end of working hours – I found Lieutenant “H” and Lieutenant “R” standing outside my office.
“What is the matter…?” I said – in an authoritative voice.
Lieutenant “H” spoke first:
“Sir – Lieutenant “R” has been posted to Bangalore – he had given his choice as Jamnagar…”
I shouted at Lieutenant “H”:
“Why the hell are you bothered about Lieutenant “R”…? You worry about yourself. You have got your choice – haven’t you…? Now – you bugger off from here – vamoose…”
Both of them started to move away.
I said to Lieutenant “R”:
“You wait – I want to speak to you – alone…”
After Lieutenant “H” had gone away – I said to Lieutenant “R”:
“You are lucky – you have got a prestigious R&D appointment – and that too – in your hometown Bangalore – now – you make the most of it – and do well in your career. Do you understand…?”
“Aye Aye, Sir…” Lieutenant “R” said to me.
Then – he saluted me – and he went away.
EPILOGUE
As was the practice – we held a grand course farewell party when the course passed out – there was music – there was dancing – and the booze was flowing freely.
We – my Wife and I – we were watching the dancing couples – when Mrs. “R” walked up to me – and – she said to me: “May I have a dance with you…?”
“Sure – I would love to dance with you…” I said to Mrs. “R”.
As we danced – Mrs. “R” said to me: “Look at them – sitting at the bar and drowning their sorrows…”
I looked towards the bar – I saw Lieutenant “H” and Lieutenant “R” sitting together and drinking. Indeed – they seemed to be “drowning their sorrows” – they looked quite morose – maybe they were feeling sad at being separated after so many years of togetherness.  
“So – off to Bangalore…?” I said to Mrs. “R”.
“Yes. We are leaving tomorrow morning by Train – “H” is coming to see us off at the Railway Station – and – I am just waiting to see the tearful farewell scenes when the train leaves…” she said, naughtily.
“Now – you will have your husband fully to yourself – and – that too in your hometown…” I said to Mrs. “R”.
“Thank you so much…” Mrs. “R” said, “It is all because of you – I will always be grateful to you…”
Suddenly – my wife “cut in” – and – I had to interrupt my dance with Mrs. “R” – and – I started dancing with my wife.
While leaving – Mrs. “R” said to me once again: “Thank you so much for all you have done for me…”
My wife asked me: “What was she thanking you for…? What have you done for her…?”
“It’s nothing…” I said.
“What do you mean “it’s nothing”…?” my wife said, “She is a student officer’s wife – and – you are so “pally” with her – she asks you for a dance and you dance so romantically with her – and then – she “Thanks You” – I hope you two haven’t been doing some “hanky-panky”…”
I looked at my wife and said to her: “Let’s go out – I will explain everything…”

We walked out towards the lawns – and – I told my wife the whole story.
VIKRAM KARVE
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Disclaimer:
1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, 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 stories 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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