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The Valentine Rose & Other Stories

The Valentine Rose & Other Stories

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The Valentine Rose & Other Stories

104 pagine
1 ora
Dec 18, 2018


This album of eleven short stories tries to portray true to life situations in the current milieu. The writer has used his creative prowess in building them basing on his observation of social complexities. Written in lucid style the satirical undertone in these stories can be well perceived by the reader who may find the latter both musing and amusing. Though written in Indian context, the stories may be enjoyed by the non-Indian reader as well.
The author, Pradeep Kumar Panda, has some years of editorial experience in the print media—newspapers, periodicals and books. He has produced several essays which have been published in newspapers and periodicals. Also a translator and grant writer, Mr Panda lives in Cuttack city in India’s Odisha state.

Dec 18, 2018

Informazioni sull'autore

Born 23 rd September, 1960, Pradeep Kumar Panda has academic qualification of M.A (economics) and lives in the city of Cuttack in the Indian state of Odisha. He has been associated as a writer-editor in the publishing of newspapers, periodicals and books and has written several essays to his credit. Besides, Mr Panda is a translator and grant writer. The short stories in this collection are his maiden published work of the type.

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The Valentine Rose & Other Stories - Pradeep Kumar Panda





She was looking garish in every respect as she reported at the office late by half an hour than her usual time. Her lavish cotton-sari marked by red stripes with faint shades of green ones made wonder on her with a perfectly toning top more so for her glossy skin glimmering aureate on that sunny day of mid-February.

Only a month ago she had celebrated her thirty-ninth birthday. Yet she did not seem older than her colleagues of the fair-sex hovering thirty. With a standard built and rather tall structure along with a charming countenance, Ms Lisa Ray, for that was her name, was truly a sight for sore eyes even at her age. Nevertheless, she was the mother of a nineteen-year old daughter now studying chemical engineering at distant Noida. They say Ms Ray got married at an early age of eighteen to a businessman more for his opulence than for anything else. The guy was about twelve years senior to her having a shabby look. Yet at no point of time she seemed, or rather fancied, to have missed the right bus. Far from it, she was very proud of her spouse. No wonder, she would often refer to him in the society, especially among friends and colleagues, fondly as ‘my one’, exulting him with all the flamboyance in the world.

Ms Lisa was known among her colleagues for her decent manners. This was a singularity with her for which she was liked by all. She had been working at this research organization as a data analyst for last ten years, not as much to strengthen her economic condition as to ward off the boredom at home. Besides, she wanted to do something on her own, or to put it in her parlance, to ‘carve a niche’ for herself like most modern women.

Presently she met the manager and headed towards her seat at the systems desk where she was greeted by her colleague Alok Dash, a bald-headed, son-of-the-soil variety of almost her own age.

Alok and Lisa were good friends. They pulled well at office.

I think you had some special occasion at home, Madam Lisa. For, today is the Valentine Day, expressed Alok in lighter vein.

Oh, yes. You are right, she replied.

Wow, fortunate you are to celebrate this occasion. As for my wife, she treats this recently entrenched culture a mockery.

Why, my one was also reluctant to celebrate it calling the whole affair a frolic, but only for my steadfastness.

Then you must have got a vibrant rose.

Well, there is one lying in the vanity. It is still fresh.

At this time the intercom at Lisa’s table rang up. It was the director calling her to explain the progress in analyzing the morbidity status of mothers in the area under study and the related issues. She had to discuss the matter with the consultant statistician who had just reported at the office. So she left her desk with relevant documents.

Alok also went through his papers and started to look into the presentation work for the meeting scheduled the next week. There was a lot of work to do. He had to prepare the spread sheet, design the figures in multi-colour, and dove-tail the write-ups. They were to be presented with the help of the electronic projector. He discussed the matter in detail with designer Raju and sat to work with him.

After some time he felt hungry and glanced at his watch. It was already time for lunch, though Lisa was yet to return to her place. After making the points to Raju he went out hurriedly for home where he used to take lunch, it being not far away.

On return Alok found Lisa at her seat and instantly recalled her interesting yet ironic remark on his allusion to the Valentine rose. But before he could say anything Lisa smiled a meaningful smile, unzipped her bag, and took out a vividly red rose with a long stalk, but without any thorn on it. She passed it to Alok who cast a finer look at the half-blossomed flower and appreciated it.

Have you ever taken a strawberry, Alok? she asked him all of a sudden.

Not yet, replied he candidly, though with a little embarrassment. For, despite his education and exposure, it reminded him that he belonged to the vast majority of common men not used to the ways of the modern civilized bourgeoisie, the class to which Lisa belonged. For a moment he felt the chasm between Lisa and him despite her affable smile still on the lips.

But before he could feel disheartened Lisa offered him a strawberry from a full pack of them.

Alok began to peel it. For, he had never seen it except in pictures, nor he had any idea of the way to take it. But why should he be abashed? Isn’t it a fruit grown in Mediterranean climate notwithstanding its recent cultivation in certain genuinely cold regions of the country? Obviously, he could not peel what seemed to be the outer layer of the fruit. Soon he realized his folly and quipped,

Oh, I thought it otherwise. It cannot be peeled, as he tasted the palatability of the fruit.

At this point Lisa said, Initially I also had the similar mistake.

Lisa’s honest statement made Alok feel at home and the psychological chasm between them seemed to vanish.

Anyway, the European fruit was delicious in a strange way—strange from his point. But it seemed unusual to Alok that Lisa should offer him just one piece of that small fruit. Maybe, just to taste, he thought.

Soon Alok began to feel a slight pain due to his ailing tooth.

Just at that moment he recalled that he had to visit the dentist to do something with his tooth. He recalled that the dentist, Ms Bhaktilata Swain having a high reputation, more for her US education, and experience was known to have clients making a beeline for her and the afternoon session of her service was to start at four o’clock. So he left the office early taking the permission of the boss.

Lisa’s work for the day was still unfinished. So she was glued to her desk and the system. Anyhow, she sat over it and finished the work before 5 pm. One must shower applause the way she often handled her task so easily. She seldom put today’s work for tomorrow. But today, it seemed she was also in a hurry to leave. In fact she noticed to her surprise five numbers of missed calls when her eyes fell on the handset she had laid on the table. She always kept her set in silent mode in order that it wouldn’t disturb others. This, again, was a practice for which she should get accolades.

Soon she operated her set and apologized to the caller for being rather stolid due to the work

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