Fiction Story – CONDOLENCE CALL – A Mystery

Source: Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: CONDOLENCE CALL – Fiction Short Story

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:…

Fiction Short Story

CONDOLENCE CALL Story by Vikram Karve

A freak accident.

A ghastly death.

A gruesome sight.

The young seaman fell off the ship’s towering main mast – his body somersaulting – tossed around by superstructures and bulkheads – till the seaman’s dead body lay mangled on the deck – neck broken – skull smashed.

At sunset – with poignant naval ritual – we consigned the sailor’s dead body to the Davy Jones’ Locker – at the bottom of the sea – to Rest in Peace – RIP.

I rummaged through the sailor’s belongings – and I found his diary.

As I leafed through his diary – it was evident that he meticulously wrote his diary daily.

I read his diary.

It is extraordinary how close you can be to a man – and how little you can know about him.

I knew he was married – but I had never realized how deeply he loved his wife.

I sealed the dead seaman’s belongings in a kitbag.

Yes – I packed all his belongings.

I packed everything – except his diary.

This diary I would hand over personally to his wife.

I would visit the seaman’s wife and make a personal condolence call – the next time we berthed at Mumbai – and I would try my best to alleviate her distress.

I owed it to dead seaman – and to his widow – for it was I – who had sent him up the main mast to repair the light – while the ship was rolling and pitching in the treacherous North Atlantic.

Three months later – we berthed in Mumbai harbour.

At the very first evening – I went ashore to make the condolence call on the seaman’s bereaved widow.

After making the condolence call – when I returned to my ship late at night – I found my shipmates waiting for me on board.

The moment I returned – my shipmates asked me anxiously, “What happened…? You took so much time…? You found the place…? Did you meet the seaman’s wife…?”

“Yes. I found the house – and I paid our condolences to the seaman’s bereaved wife…” I said.

Suddenly – they all started speaking together: “The seaman’s wife – widowed so young – poor thing – so unlucky – such a pity – so sad – tell us – tell us – how has she taken it – is she devastated – what was she doing…?”

“She was in bed…” I said.

“She was in bed…? Oh My God – she seems to have taken it very badly – it has been three months since he died – and she is still bedridden with grief…?” they all said.

“She is not bedridden with grief…” I said.

“What…?” they all exclaimed in chorus.

For a moment – they waited for me to speak.

And then – there was a cacophony of voices – as they asked me: “…why is she lying ill in bed for three months – what happened – accident – fracture – heart attack – stroke – depression –shock…?”

“Please! Please!…” I interrupted loudly, raising my finger – you all please be quiet and I will tell you.

Everyone became silent.

I looked at my shipmates – and I said: “She is not ill – she has not had an accident – no heart attack, no stroke, nothing – she is not in distress – she has not taken her husband’s death badly at all. In fact – she has taken it rather well. She wasn’t alone in bed when I suddenly reached her house late at night – she was in bed with someone else…”

“She was in bed with someone else…? What…? Impossible…! You tell us more – what happened – please tell us…”

“What is there for me to tell…?” I said, “I went to the address written in the seaman’s diary – but I found out that his wife has shifted to a swanky apartment in the suburbs – so I took a taxi and went there. By the time I reached the house it was quite late…”

“Posh house in the suburbs…? She must have bought it with the insurance money…” someone piped up.

“Then what happened…?” someone else asked me.

“It was quite late by the time I reached the house – but I had to meet her – so I rang the doorbell. The seaman’s wife opened the door. I recognised her from her photo in the seaman’s diary. She was dressed in a flimsy nightie. I told her that I was her husband’s shipmate…” I said.

“Then what happened…?” they all asked together, curious.

I decided to tell them the full story.

I began speaking:

“She invited me in – so I walked into the drawing room.

She asked me to sit down on the sofa.

As I told you she was dressed in a flimsy nightie – and I realized that she was quite drunk – the way she was walking and speaking.

She offered me a drink – she poured one for herself – and we sat down on the sofa.

I did not see any signs of sorrow and grief on her face – in fact – she seemed to be quite happy and pleasantly drunk.

I was about to speak – when suddenly – a man’s voice called her from inside the bedroom:

‘…hey sweetie pie what are you doing out there…? Come back to bed fast I am getting cold…’

and she shouted back to the man in the bedroom:

‘…someone has come … my husband’s shipmate…’

and the man inside shouted back to her:

‘…just tell him to get lost tell him to vamoose just tell him to disappear…’

It was quite clear that I had interrupted something – and I was unwelcome – so I bid her good bye – and I came back to the ship…”

My shipmates heard my story intently.

Then – there was a burst of emotion – and a cacophony of angry voices:

“Bloody hell – two-timing bitch – poor guy – what an unfaithful wife – and he was such a nice guy – it looks like she was making a cuckold of him all the time – maybe the seaman knew all about it – maybe he didn’t fall off the mast accidentally – maybe he intentionally jumped off…”

“Maybe…!” I said.

Then –  my shipmates asked me, “What about his diary – the dead seaman’s diary – did you give it to her…?”

No,” I said, “I threw the seaman’s diary into the sea – to join him down there at the bottom of the sea – in the Davy Jones’ Locker. May they both Rest in Peace – the Seaman – and his Diary – RIP…”

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

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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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)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This is a revised version of my story “CONDOLENCE CALL – The Davy Jones’ Locker” written by me Vikram Karve more than 9 years ago, in the year 2006, and posted online by me on my creative writing blogs a number of times at urls:…  and  Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve  and…  and…  and… etc

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 9/03/2015 03:27:00 PM

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