Archive for September 9th, 2019

Very Good – Very Good : A Naval Yarn

September 9, 2019

Humour can do wonders.

Genuine humour can dissipate anger and dissolve grief.

Here is a story – maybe apocryphal – narrated to me long back by one of my course-mates…


Naval Yarn By Vikram Karve

Humor can do wonders.

Genuine humor can dissipate anger and dissolve grief.

Here is a story – maybe apocryphal – narrated to me long back by one of my course-mates.

This story happened around 45 years ago in the 1970s.

The Executive Officer (XO) of his ship was quite a unique character.

The XO was a cheerful, jovial, absent-minded guy who was obsessed with solving crossword-puzzles.

Yes, those days, every newspaper carried a crossword puzzle daily, whose correct solution would appear the next day.

Solving crossword puzzles was a popular pastime with some officers like this XO.

When the ship was in harbour – he would spend his morning buried in the newspaper solving the daily crossword puzzle. In the evening – he would be busy with the crossword in the evening tabloid – sipping Scotch Whisky in the Wardroom.

For his pastime passion at Sea – he had a file of crossword puzzle pages cut out from old foreign newspapers like The Times London etc (courtesy a raddiwala shop in Fort) and some crossword puzzle books bought from the secondhand bookshop on Kalbadevi Road near Dhobi Talao.

He spent most of his mornings in his cabin or in the Wardroom solving crossword puzzles.

His favourite words were:

“very good, very good”

In the Navy – when your senior gave you an order – you acknowledged the order by saying:

“aye aye, sir”

And – when your junior made you a report – you acknowledged the report by saying:

“very good”

Now – since the XO received lots of reports – he seemed to have developed the habit of saying:

“very good, very good”.

One day – a young Lieutenant – a Divisional Officer – brought a distraught looking sad faced Sailor to see the XO.

It was just after breakfast – and the XO was sitting in the wardroom – busy with his Times of India Crossword Puzzle.

The Divisional Officer gestured towards the Sailor – and he said to the XO:

“Sir – we have just received a telegram that his mother has passed away.”

Very Good, Very Good…” the XO said instinctively – without even looking up from the newspaper – and he continued with his crossword puzzle.

There was stunned silence.

No one could believe their ears.

The poor sailor had been bereaved – his mother had died – and the XO was saying: “Very Good, Very Good…”

After uttering these words “Very Good, Very Good…” the XO continued with his crossword puzzle – looking down into the newspaper – buried in thought.

Everyone was dumbstruck – as they looked at the nonchalant XO.

There was a grotesque silence.

After a few moments – the absentminded XO paused – and he put down the newspaper.

Then – the XO looked up at the sailor.

Gradually – it seemed that comprehension was dawning on the XO.

Suddenly – the XO said to the sailor:


Your mother died…?

Very Bad, Very Bad…”

Everyone – including the bereaved sailor – burst out laughing.

Though he was quite a unique character – in his heart – the XO was a most compassionate and genuine man.

He was a quintessential Naval Officer of the “old-mould”.

In true Naval Tradition – the XO did everything humanly and administratively possible to help the bereaved sailor – and made all welfare arrangements to enable the sailor to mitigate his personal grief.


Copyright © Vikram Karve
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.


  1. This article 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.

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)

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:

This is a revised version of my article which I had Posted Online Earlier in my Academic and Creative Writing Blog at urls: and and and

%d bloggers like this: