"Valentine - Sky is the Limit" by Nirendra Dev : An English Short Story (WBRi Online Magazine)

Valentine - Sky is the Limit

By Nirendra Dev

A Short Story

Nirendra Narayan DevEditor's Note: Nirendra Narayan Dev (nirendev1 [at] gmail [dot] com), an acclaimed political journalist, is a special correspondent of The Statesman, New Delhi and author of the books Modi to Moditva, Ayodhya : Battle For Peace, The Talking Guns North East India and Godhra A Journey To Mayhem. Nirendra was born and brought up in India's northeast and his father served with paramilitary force Assam Rifles. His blog is at bestofindiarestofindia.blogspot.com.

We have previously had an opportunity of talking to the author and have posted the audio recording of the interview.

WBRi has the pleasure of publishing a series of short stories by Nirendra. Search with keywords "Nirendra Dev" to read his prior stories and articles on Washington Bangla Radio.

The new generation had come. Money is the only instrument that can procure success, success and more success. Happiness can follow on a later day. Vicky Shrivastava still remembered the Bengali film ‘Akash Kusum’ by his favourite film maker, Mrinal Sen, where in the protagonist Ajoy thunders at one point of time, “one day I will buy off the whole world”. Vicky also thought like Ajoy, may be. Role models in his life keep changing; or he never thought of anyone as his permanent role model.

In this country or for that matter in the national capital particularly, lie, deception and corruption have become ways of life. Grand Ma’s values are not merely history but something to be shunned. Shunned from mind.

Jimmy Amarnath’s cricket gang of 1983 no longer inspires him. How many years he has not touched the cricket bat! How many years now, he has not witnessed a cricket match. Ever since fixing cloud dawned, the game of cricket has stopped drawing him before television sets too.

“Yeh sab kya ho raha hae (What’s all this happening with me),” he thought. Savitri has come in his life. Five years back.

Life is like a good book – rather a text book, - divided roughly into two parts. The first half is the theoretical section – about dreams, false dreams and something about idealism. The second half is practical, the reality. Harsh reality.

He was standing for the 7.40 Metro waiting for Savitri. They would return home together – a small consolation for the Valentine’s Day evening.

February 14 is not always a holiday and so even if it’s V Day, it was w-day – working day and of course n-day – a normal day for both.

Into the moving locomotive – fast train as it should be better understood – Savitri announced casually, “what do I cook for you tonight. It was a tiring day. The work place is slowly becoming a difficult place you know”.

Vicky knew some of it or rather whole of it. The working atmosphere is getting worse everywhere, he thought and just smiled at Savitri’s words. The look was half in approval of what Savitri was saying, half ignoring her statement.

“Tell me na,” his wife cajoled yet again.

“Kucch bhi (Anything),” he said, adding again with the half-hearted keenness of a man – also tiered – after an exhaustive day. “I am in sales you know,” he said softly moving closer towards Savitri, and then vented out, “we are more ruthless”.

Savitri smiled back as she smelled the naughty approach in her husband. This city is famous for double speak! Double meaning phrases! ‘Ruthless’ from a husband on the Valentine’s Day evening could actually mean some romantic indications.

“Who knows that better than mine….what ruthless, you are only selfish. Tonight nothing doing. I am just not in mood for all that. My job as an accountant is also equally boring I can tell you,” she snapped.

“Lo….. I never asked for anything like that,” Vicky tried to justify his remarks.

For a while, they stopped talking. Savitri was the first to break the silence and said, “you know Ma called”.

Vicky shot back, “she must have wished you on Valentine Day… didn’t you tell her that I gave you no present”.

Savitri said, “no no …. It is something else. You know that Sapna – yes yes, that Sapna’s rishta came for you na? She is getting married next month”.

“Oh really,” Vicky said but his eyes glowed up and he thought of teasing Savitri further, “I think I did a mistake by rejecting her. She had a crush for me. May be I would have been happier”.

“Imagination!—screamed Savitri. There was again pause for a while.

“See here is a Valentine message on facebook” : Vicky broke the silence this time leaning his mobile handset before Savitri. Savitri started reading it.

Can you tell me as to how one should remain always happy...

- The basic requirements to remain happy are.... 1) You must love and take care of your parents.... 2) you must love and listen to your wife, entertain unreasonable tantrums and irrelevant questions and 3) you must love your Wine and Sex


Savitri giggled. Vicky too joined her and remarked, “nice na… why don’t you add something”

Savitri started pondering for a while and said, “what do you feel like adding”?

“Nothing… all meaningless,” replied Vicky as if some sales targets were still working in his mind.

Savitri knew her husband and so, she started keying few lines in Vicky’s message box ….

“The 'happy go easy spirit…. if this spirit gets in, Life has to be happier @all”

Vicky nodded his head in approval and then posted it online.

Savitri was lost pondering about something…probably what will she cook?

Vicky was right. “Are you thinking about cooking…yaar make a mixed sabzi”.

Oh no, Savitri snapped him, “don’t tell me you want roti. At best it will be dal chaol….enough?”

Vicky smiled. Savitri was not sure whether it was really in agreement.

Vicky has been a foody unlike Savitri.

Savitri peeped outside through the door glass of the compartment. Intense cold wave was still sweeping across northern India. The piercing icy wind outside, she thought.

Suddenly she was lost about her romance with Vicky. What had started a few years back, the affair was going along except that things were becoming more and more difficult to keep secret.

Those long, romantic conversations, holding hands, gazing into each other’s eyes! And occasional rubbing knees. They also had kissed each other in theatre halls.

Some developments in life often leave people baffled. Now this was going in Savitri’s mind. Deep inside her, she was sensing a conflict. Something she could not share with anyone, never with Vicky.

Today’s professional world would motivate someone to go any extent. Hard work was perhaps only a by-product. She has heard all sorts of stories of colleagues make it or break it in their career graph.

Suddenly the Metro had halted before Yamuna Bank station. She could see the calmness outside. The meek moonlight outside looked lovelier.

She wanted the same light in her life. The golden touch, soft - on her lips!

She knew she was dreaming, actually lost in half dreams. Having eye is one thing and dreaming another; having a heart is one thing and falling in love, quite another, she recalled from book ‘A thing beyond forever’ written by Novoneel Chakraborty.

But amid her helpless and loneliness, for a change she liked to be lost in a web of thoughts. Perhaps she was feeling happy that Vicky is not talking and she got some moments of her own. These solitary moments are actually fraught with emotions of all kinds.

She recalled her younger days; wearing skirts. She too had infatuations, before she had met Vicky. Then her relation with Vicky was a long relationship starting with ‘mere friendship’ graduating to an affair of 7 years. They played, roamed about, studied too. They were seemingly inseparable and thus landed in the wedlock.

But the love, the affair and the subsequent marriage also uprooted her from her small town in the east. It was their joint decision. Let us build our career in a big city type!

But the so called career move had made her lose the nest and may be the pedigree or is it the outdated values.

These complex problems were her. Savitri was not sure of Vicky. As husband and wife they normally talked romance, domestic issues, money plants and money investments in mutual funds. But hardly their conversation would sail off to the shores of idealism and values of the small city. These were now past. Even the romance was becoming a weekend affair.

Vicky is too busy with his sales figures, Savitri would always think.

Suddenly, Savitri thought about Vicky, who was also lost in himself. He had managed a seat by then and was dozing with his eyes closed. Savitri stared at him. His shoulders were swinging rhythmically slowly to the weight of the burden of the laptop bag. The bag was turning heavier by the day.

Savitri felt petty on her husband. She smiled at him, a warm smile. "Yes, you are good, may be bad at times. But poor thing. But I can make you better”, -- as if she was telling her subconscious mind. Savitri realized their destination was approaching.

Her skinny fingers were trembling as she tried to give a small jerk to her husband who had meanwhile dozed off.


They arrived home. Savitri had ran into the bathroom for a shower. She bathed clean and changed into a chiffon pinkish sari. Her long hair curled and springy was thrown on her back. Vicky had switched on the television set and glued before one of his favourite news channels, or was the attraction for the slimy news reader, Savitri was not sure again.

Some moments in life between husband and wife are very intimate. But there also comes a time when the two souls are far apart; no inner confessions can really work.

She walked into the kitchen to dispose off her wifely duty, prepare dinner. Television set was still on. Slowly to his habit and masculine vice Vicky walked into the wash room.

In the kitchen some ‘idea’ cropped up in Savitri’s head. She came out rather swiftly and naughtily took Vicky’s Blackberry on her palm. The Facebook msg indicator was blinking : it read :

“But u were always confident and independent but too emotional”, the message was from Pallavi.

Then Vicky had replied: I m always emotional thats actually my strength

Pallavi had another oneliner: I too am too emotional. I consider that a weakness….why its me who has to sacrifice always… then as a young gal, a daughter and now as a wife, a daughter-in-law and a mother?

Vicky had countered that too: No never do that. i like u for your emotions, your husband loves u for that... ask him, I can bet.

Then Vicky’s last line – was ambiguous – very mysterious: “you are settled na?”

Savitri by then had kept the mobile handset in its place and came back to the kitchen. But she was feeling the pinch! Divides are deepening, she wondered.

Vicky was still in the bathroom. Savitri came out of the kitchen and unmindfully stared around the room. The house was tastefully decorated, according to her choice. Vicky would of course buy some decorative pieces. There was a large LCD television on the wall, there were china vases and crockery, book shelf. The room looked more attractive with the pair of China-made lamps, Savitri thought.

But all of a sudden the image of a gloom suddenly descended on her. The attractive lamps were brought by Vicky during his trip to Taiwan and Beijing. Vicky had confessed – Pallavi too was with him. Then was there something fishy?

The prized lamps now appeared worthless pieces of marble. Savitri’s wild thoughts would have continued…

But Vicky came out of the shower and demanded usually, ‘is the dinner ready?’

Savitri seemed to have come back to her senses. They quickly grabbed the dal chaol dinner. Savitri noticed Vicky was quicker than his usual pace.

Vicky was almost working against a deadline. He is used to meet these deadly deadlines.

Slowly they retired into the bed room. Vicky embraced Savitri almost plunging into her. This is far from normal. Was it animalism?

The pangs of jealousy against Pallavi were still working in Savitri. In the meanwhile, Vicky was all over her playing with her body totally unaware of her mind and soul.

Slowly Vicky gave up… fell flat on his back, the usual exhausted Vicky. “I love you Savitri my Valendtine,” he told her adding an oneliner that left Savitri further shell-shocked: “you know Pallavi has decided to marry that Christian boy Milton, she had called me in the afternoon and then sent in a facebook chat message telling all about emotions et cetera et cetera.

Savitri leaned towards Vicky’s chest, moved her right hand on it affectionately and then remarked, “yes, ruthless sales executive, today is Valentine Night and hmmm ….. sky is the limit”.