My Unfinished Navy Novel : “Nobody’s” Navy
MY UNFINISHED BOOK
Long back — around 12 years ago — I wanted to publish a novel.
However — after a few disappointing experiences with publishers — I gave up the idea of a print book — and — I converted my novel into a series of stories which I posted online on my blogs.
Maybe — I didn’t want to fall victim to the “Sunk Cost Fallacy”
Dear Reader — here are some chapters from my unfinished novel…
(Excerpts from my Unfinished Novel about the adventures of Sub-Lieutenant Nobody)
A Fictional Spoof
Every Naval Officer has a book hidden within him.
This is my book — a Novel.
Though apocryphal, and a spoof, this fiction story is based on my first hand experience about life in the Indian Navy.
I have not seen a similar novel written in India which is set on a warship depicting the excitement and trials and tribulations of naval life.
Most people think that the Navy is like any other “job”.
The Navy is not a Job.
The Navy is a Way of Life.
I want to give my readers an authentic taste of the Naval Life (which we experienced first-hand in the Navy) — at Sea and Ashore — which is quite different from the jingoistic mumbo-jumbo in recruitment advertisements — or — the heroic hogwash exhibited in most action movies or the “Colonel Blimp” or “Captain Haddock” type caricatures shown in Bollywood films.
The protagonist of my novel is Sub-Lieutenant Nobody.
Yes — his name is “Nobody”.
That is why the novel is called NOBODY’S NAVY
This story covers a one year period in the life of Sub-Lieutenant Nobody on board ship.
I intend to write a sequel, maybe a trilogy, or a series of follow-on novels, to cover the hilarious yet poignant adventures of this fictitious naval officer called “Nobody” as he plods his way through Naval Life and progresses through his naval career.
The theme of my novel is simple: “THE NAVY BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN YOU”.
This part was true in my own life — The Navy did bring out the best in me.
Around 12 years ago — sometime in December 2010 — I prepared a book proposal for my novel which I titled NOBODY’S NAVY.
As per the guidelines given by various reputed publishers — the book proposal comprised a synopsis and three chapters of the novel.
I sent my book proposal to some reputed publishers — one after another.
I was disappointed with the response.
RESPONSES FROM PUBLISHERS
I received four types of responses from publishers on my Novel Proposal:
1. Some publishers did not bother to acknowledge receipt and I heard nothing from them
(Maybe — they dump all “unsolicited” proposals into the slush pile or the waste paper basket)
2. Some publishers sent my proposal back with regrets saying that they were already booked for the next 2 or 3 years with novels lined up for publishing — and I should try after that.
(I did not want my novel to wait in a never-ending queue)
3. Some publishers asked me the business prospects of my novel — how was I going to market my book, how many copies would it sell, would I guarantee financial viability.
(Well I do have Management Qualifications — but I specialized in Human Resource Management (HR) — and not in Marketing and Sales Management.
Besides — as a creative writer — I thought that my job was to write an engrossing book with Page Turning Quality (PTQ) — and — the “business” aspects would be looked after by the publisher)
4. The remaining publishers sent me financial details for “self-publishing” my novel.
(In the present day scenario of book publishing in India — it seems that self-publishing my novel is the only option left for me — if I wish to publish my novel as a printed book.
Though self publishing may satisfy my vanity — I know now difficult it will be to seamlessly make available the book to maximum readers — since I neither have the skill — nor the wherewithal — to distribute and sell the book by getting it into the bookstores)
I wish to be “Creative Writer” — not a “Marketing Manager”
I browsed in bookstores in order to ascertain the “market” for novels.
It seems the only fiction books in vogue are “metro reads” (mushy romances) and contrived campus love stories.
I may be wrong — but to me — it seems that present day readers don’t have the inclination nor the appetite to read an authentic “no-holds barred” novel on Navy Life.
I am not going to abort my novel because I have to tell my story.
I have two options before me:
1. The first option is to complete my Novel (despite having no assurance of publication)
And then — spend my time peddling my “unsolicited” manuscript to reputed publishers.
This may turn out to be a very harrowing experience.
It takes a lot of emotional and physical effort to complete a novel — and — after putting in all that effort — I will find it quite humiliating to peddle my manuscript.
So — in order to preserve my dignity and to ensure that my creative work sees the light of day — I may have no option but to self-publish my novel — and undergo the frustration of my book not getting its due appreciation and success because of impediments in distribution and owing to sub-optimal marketing.
2. The second option is to upload my book proposal on my Blog — the synopsis and a few chapters — for everyone to read on my blog.
I think the second option has three advantages.
1. Some readers may give me feedback and tell me if this is a good story which people want to read and how to make it more interesting.
2. Some of my benevolent readers may tell some literary friends of theirs about “Nobody’s Navy” — or they may even refer me to a literary agent — or an editor in a publishing house — and maybe — I would be able to strike a deal.
3. The best thing would be if some reputed publisher reads this story — and makes me an offer that I cannot refuse.
Is anyone interested in publishing my novel NOBODY’S NAVY…?
The synopsis and a few chapters of “Nobody’s Navy” are ready.
If you are game (or know a publisher who is interested) — do let me know.
We can take it forward from here.
Meanwhile — Dear Reader — I am posting below for your perusal — three chapters from NOBODY’S NAVY — my novel about the adventures of Sub-Lieutenant Nobody — on my Blog below — for you to read:
1. “NOBODY” BECOMES A “SOMEBODY” — THE ART OF COMMAND AT SEA
2. STEALING AFFECTIONS — A MATTER OF HONOUR
3. UP “SHIT CREEK” — WITHOUT A PADDLE
- Please read this apocryphal story only if you have a sense of humor. This naval yarn 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. And yes, this story is for mature adults only, so if you are a kid, or an overly gender sensitive type, please skip this blog post.
- Please note that around 45 years ago — in the 1970’s — it was an all-male Navy — where bawdy jokes, ribaldry and profane language was the order of the day — and concepts like gender-sensitivity were unheard of — and this story is written in that language and spirit.
- 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.
“NOBODY’S NAVY” By VIKRAM KARVE
“NOBODY” BECOMES A “SOMEBODY” — THE ART OF COMMAND AT SEA
(This Story is an Excerpt from my under process Navy Novel “Nobody’s Navy” by Vikram Karve)
How Sub Lieutenant NOBODY became a “Somebody”
A Fictional Spoof by Vikram Karve
INS Bijlee — Mumbai Harbour
Calm Blue Sea — Soft Cool Breeze — Sunset — 31st December 1977.
The lights of Mumbai twinkle in the distance as the city gets ready to ring in the New Year.
It was the happiest moment of his life.
Standing on the bridge-wings of the mighty warship INS Bijlee as she entered Mumbai harbour under his command — for the first time in his life — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody felt as if he was a “somebody”.
At this defining moment of his life — he realized the import of the words the distinguished Admiral had uttered while motivating him to join the Navy while he was studying at IIT.
“Son…” the recruiting Admiral had said, “The Navy is not just another job. The Navy is a way of life.”
Ship life seemed good.
Rank — Spit and Polish — and normal Naval Bullshit — all this did not matter much on a frontline combat warship like INS Bijlee.
Here — it was your professional performance that counted.
So — everyone was busy doing his job.
As long as you did your job well — you were given a free hand — and — after “secure” was piped — and the day’s work was over — you were free to do what you liked.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody realized that no one bothered him — since other officers were busy doing their own work and running their departments.
It was much better over here on a combat ship than the Naval Academy — where they treated you like dirt — and they tried to convert you into a brainless obedient robot.
And — it was certainly much better than the Naval Technical Officers’ College — which boasted of transforming bright young Engineering Graduates into “Technical Zombies”.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody had survived both these ordeals — and he had still retained his sanity.
It all happened so fast.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody had arrived in Mumbai Central Railway Station in the morning after a tiresome train journey.
There he was picked up in a ramshackle truck and dumped at the boat jetty.
There the ship’s boat was waiting for him.
After a rough journey on the choppy sea — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody was deposited alongside INS Bijlee anchored far out at sea.
It was almost 12 Noon when he clambered up the accommodation ladder to the quarterdeck of the ship with his bag hanging on his shoulder.
He duly saluted the Officer of the Day (OOD) and said:
“Sub-Lieutenant Nobody reporting for duty, Sir. Request permission to come on board…”
The ship was rolling and the ladder staggered so he held on to a stanchion.
The stanchion gave way — and Sub-Lieutenant Nobody lost his balance — and he crashed into the arms of the OOD — and both of them fell on the deck in a heap.
“Sorry, Sir…” Nobody said — as they gathered themselves up.
“You seem to be quite eager to join this ship. What did you say your name was…?” the OOD — a two striper Lieutenant asked with a smile.
“My name is “Nobody”…”
“NOBODY…?” the OOD asked, incredulous.
“Sir, it’s an anglicized version of …”
“Okay. Okay. You can tell me the story later…” the OOD interrupted, “just give me your appointment letter and genform…”
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody took his appointment letter and genform from his shirt pocket and gave them to the OOD.
The OOD looked at the documents.
“Okay, okay — so you’re the new Electrical Officer (LO)…? Welcome on board…” the OOD shook his hand and said, “I’m the TASO (Torpedo Anti-Submarine Officer). Today is “make and mend”. Captain is not on board. You can meet him tomorrow. The Duty Petty Officer will take you to your cabin. Shower up — change into uniform — and meet me in the wardroom in ten minutes.”
Ten minutes later — freshly shaved and bathed — dressed in sparkling white shorts and shirt — Dress №8 Naval uniform — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody entered the wardroom.
He saw the OOD — the TASO — wearing civvies — sitting at the Bar — sipping a glass of Beer.
“Ah…there you are. I am waiting for you…” the TASO said — the moment he saw the newly arrived Sub-Lieutenant Nobody.
The TASO swallowed his beer in one go — down the hatch.
The TASO gave the OOD’s lanyard with a bunch of keys to Sub-Lieutenant Nobody.
Then — the TASO said to Sub-Lieutenant Nobody:
“Sub-Lieutenant Nobody — you “hold the deck”. I’m off. Don’t bother to see me off. I’ll see you in the morning…”
And — with lightening speed — the TASO disappeared ashore on the liberty boat — even before Sub-Lieutenant Nobody could recover his wits.
“Congratulations…” a voice said from behind.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody turned around to see a Lieutenant Commander sitting on a sofa with a huge tankard of beer before him.
“Good morning, Sir…” Nobody said.
“It is already afternoon, my friend…” the Lieutenant Commander said extending his hand, “I’m “Schoolie” — the Ship’s Education Officer. You’re the new LO — aren’t you…?”
“Yes, Sir…” Nobody said.
“So you are the OOD — the de facto Commanding Officer of the ship now…”
“OOD…?” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody stammered — feeling bewildered and totally taken aback.
“You are holding the fort for TASO — aren’t you…? Smart bugger — that TASO. The horny bastard couldn’t even wait one day to screw his wife…”
Seeing the disorientated expression on Nobody’s face — Schoolie said:
“Pick up a glass of beer and come and sit here. I’ll tell you what to do…”
Then — with breathtaking simplicity — Schoolie elucidated the Art of Command:
“In the Navy — especially on a ship — command is very simple.
The Art of Command comprises just 3 words:
3. VERY GOOD
Remember these three key words — YES, NO and VERY GOOD.
From time to time — your duty staff will come and ask you something.
It’s a good idea to number their questions.
You just reply “YES” — to the “odd numbered questions”.
You reply “NO” — to the “even numbered questions”.
And — if someone makes a “report” to you — you just say: “VERY GOOD”.
You got it…? Is it clear…?…”
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody let the wisdom sink in.
Then — he said to Schoolie:
“Yes, Sir — I have understood.
Odd numbered questions — I say ‘Yes’.
Even numbered questions — I say ‘No’.
And if someone makes a report — I just say ‘Very Good’.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody looked at Schoolie for approbation.
Is that correct, Sir…?” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody asked Schoolie.
Schoolie gave Sub-Lieutenant Nobody a patronizing smile.
“Absolutely Correct. That — in a nutshell — is the Art of Naval Command…” Schoolie pronounced with finality.
Just then — the Duty Petty Officer entered.
The Duty Petty Officer saluted Sub-Lieutenant Nobody and said:
“Request permission to revert to 3 watches, Sir.”
First question — odd numbered question — so Nobody answered:
“Thank you, Sir…” the Duty Petty Officer saluted — and he went away quite happy that he could secure half his men from duty.
“Sir…” it was the Duty Engine Room Artificer (ERA) — who came a few minutes later– and he asked Sub-Lieutenant Nobody:
“Request permission to shut down boilers.”
Question Number Two — even numbered question — so Sub-Lieutenant Nobody answered:
The ERA nodded — looking quite perplexed — and he went away.
“See — you are learning fast…” Schoolie said to Sub-Lieutenant Nobody — as they sat for lunch.
While going ashore — Schoolie gave Nobody a parting shot of advice:
“Always remember that it is better to keep your mouth shut and give the impression that you are stupid — rather than to open it and remove all doubt…”
Schoolie, a post graduate, was an Education Officer — the lowest class of officer in the Navy.
Education Officers were treated like dirt — and they wasted their entire lives teaching basic mathematics to junior sailors who didn’t give a damn — or acting as lackeys to senior officers wives — helping them run so-called welfare activities — which were more of ego-massage — and less of welfare.
Once in a while — the brighter among them got posted to ships — where they had no work to do — except hang around in the wardroom doing nothing — and offering unsolicited advice to anyone who cared to listen.
Schoolie enjoyed doing talking to people — pontificating and giving advice on all matters under the sun — to anyone who cared to listen — especially to rookies — like Sub-Lieutenant Nobody — who latched on to each word he said.
It was indeed funny.
As far as the officer class was concerned — your status and position in the pecking order was inversely proportional to your academic qualifications.
The Matriculate “Cadet Entry” Seamen Officers were the prima donnas
The Engineering Graduate “Techies” — and the Graduate “Supply and Secretariat” (S&S) “Pussers” — they were the middle rung.
And — the Post-Graduate “Schoolies” were at the rock bottom of the Navy status hierarchy.
The “Yeoman of Signals” woke up Sub-Lieutenant Nobody from his beer-induced siesta:
“It is Port Control, Sir…”
Sub-Lieutenant opened his eyes and tried to focus on the face of the “Yeoman of Signals”.
The “Yeoman of Signals” hesitantly asked the sleepy Sub-Lieutenant Nobody:
“Sir — they are asking if we want to come alongside.”
Nobody struggled to open his eyes and he thought about it.
He counted the questions he had been asked so far.
The First Question by the Duty Petty Officer regarding 3 Watch System — which he had answered “YES”
The Second Question by the Duty ERA regarding Shutting Down Boilers — which he had answered “NO”
One, Two, Three — this was the Third Question — odd numbered question — so Sub-Lieutenant Nobody answered confidently:
“Thank you, Sir — I will signal them at once…” the delighted “Yeoman of Signals” said — and he rushed towards the bridge to make a signal to Port Control by Aldis Lamp.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody followed the Yeoman to the bridge wings and watched him exchange visual signals with port control — both lamps frantically flashing.
“Ballard Pier…?” port control asked.
It was the Fourth Question of the day — an even numbered question — so Sub-Lieutenant Nobody assertively said:
Fifth Question — an odd numbered question — so Sub-Lieutenant Nobody assertively said:
And then — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody scrupulously followed the “Odd = YES and Even = NO” rule.
Odd Question = YES
Even Question = NO
“Cold move…?” port control asked — the Sixth Question — even numbered question.
“NO…” Nobody said decisively.
Everyone on the bridge was praising Sub-Lieutenant Nobody’s foresight in not allowing the boilers to be shut down — otherwise the quick “hot move” would not have been possible at immediate notice — and they would have to spend the whole day waiting for the tug to carry out the laborious “cold move”.
“Should we call for a harbour pilot…?” the duty Midshipman asked.
It was even numbered question — so Sub-Lieutenant Nobody emphatically said:
“Sir, should I prepare the pilotage plan…?”
“Shall I chart course between sunk rock and oyster rock…?”
“Around Middle Ground…?”
“Will you be taking the “con”, Sir…?” the Midshipman asked.
“Sir — will I have the “con”…?” the Midshipman asked.
The Midshipman was filled with happiness and a sense of pride.
It was the first time that someone had shown so much confidence in him.
The Midshipman smartly saluted Sub-Lieutenant Nobody and said:
“I’ll report when ready, Sir.”
This was not a question.
This was a report.
So — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody remembered Schoolie’s advice and said:
There was no point hanging around the bridge and exposing his ignorance — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody thought to himself
So — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody told the Midshipman to take the ship alongside.
He then informed the Midshipman that he would be available in the wardroom for any advice.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody then went down to the wardroom– he summoned the bar steward — and ordered a double large scotch whisky and soda.
He desperately needed the alcohol stimulated “Dutch courage”.
Soon his spirits were high — and — fuelled by alcohol-inspired courage — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody was brimming with confidence.
From then on — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody religiously followed Schoolie’s “odd/even” command formula with great success — and soon — INS Bijlee was underway, sailing smoothly towards the Wharf.
As he sipped whisky in the wardroom — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody was quite clueless as he heard, on the main broadcast, the Midshipman give the conning orders:
“Stand-by Main Engines…Haul Anchor…Anchor off the bottom…Anchor Aweigh…Anchor Coming Home…Anchor Sighted and Clear…Wheel Amidships… Dead Slow…Starboard Ten…”
Everything moved like clockwork — everyone knew their jobs.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody also knew what to do.
In his mind — he had to keep a count of the questions they asked him.
And — he had to quickly determine the question number — odd or even — and answer according to Schoolie’s “Odd = YES and Even = NO” formula.
For every odd numbered question — he said: “Yes”.
For the even numbered question — he said: “No”.
And — from time to time — when someone made him a report — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody would wisely nod — and say: “Very Good”.
Yes –the simple “YES” / “NO” / “VERY GOOD” command formula worked.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody strictly followed the formula — and everything went absolutely right.
The ship secured alongside perfectly.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody realized first-hand that the Art of Naval Command was indeed breathtaking in its simplicity.
“Should I announce liberty, Sir…?” asked the Duty Petty Officer hesitantly.
It was an odd numbered question — so Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said: “Yes”
The broad smile on the Petty Officer’s face and the smartness of his salute said it all.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody had mastered the Art of Naval Command.
The crew were happy to be secured alongside rather than tossing and turning at a faraway anchorage out at sea.
And now — thanks to Sub-Lieutenant Nobody — there would be liberty — and the ship’s crew would be able to go ashore to enjoy the delights of “Maximum City” after a long hard time at sea.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody became the hot topic of discussion below the deck in the crew messes.
Each and every sailor admired the guts and initiative of Sub-Lieutenant Nobody.
They were impressed by his prompt and clear decisive commands.
Despite being a non-seaman officer — he had brought the ship alongside by taking effective charge of the Midshipman.
Never before had such a thing happened.
Never before had they seen a greenhorn Sub-Lieutenant demonstrate so much confidence and guts on his first day on board a ship.
Anyone else would have hesitated, dithered — but here was a decisive officer.
“He is a natural leader” — they all said — with awe and in unison — about Sub-Lieutenant Nobody.
On his very first day on board this mighty warship — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody earned the admiration, respect and esteem of the crew of INS Bijlee.
The sailors were happy to have Sub-Lieutenant Nobody on board — and they showed it by their body language — especially in the way they saluted him.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody’s chest swelled with pride.
Nobody had become a “Somebody”.
(The story narrated above is an excerpt from my under process Navy Novel “Nobody’s Navy” by Vikram Karve)
“NOBODY’S NAVY” By VIKRAM KARVE
STEALING AFFECTIONS — A MATTER OF HONOUR
“Stealing the affections of a brother officer’s wife…?” thundered the Admiral.
The Admiral looked up from the paper he was reading — he glared at Captain standing in front of him — and the Admiral said to the Captain:
“Kaka — I have tolerated a lot of nonsense from your ship — but I not going to condone sexual misconduct.”
“He is innocent, Sir…” said the Captain, the Commanding Officer of the mighty warship INS Bijlee, the flagship of the Fleet.
Standing beside the Admiral was a bespectacled Commander with yellow lace between his stripes — the Judge Advocate General — called JAG.
The JAG noticed that — though the Captain spoke in a soft voice — he looked at the Admiral, his boss, the Fleet Commander — squarely in the eye.
The JAG knew that Kaka — as the Captain was known throughout the Navy — was ex-Dufferin — an officer of the old-mould — a tough cookie — unlike some of his more morally-pliable counterparts.
The Captain looked a decisive, tenacious and determined man, with his broad square face, heavy-lidded eyes and the deep lines at the sides of his mouth.
The Captain never took things lying down.
And now — he was taking on his boss, the Admiral, his own Fleet Commander.
This was going to be difficult.
“What the hell do you mean he is innocent…?” shouted the Admiral, “that piddly dope-entry Sub-Lieutenant is caught red-handed screwing a Commander’s wife — and you say he is bloody innocent…? If he was so frigging horny he could have dipped his bloody wick elsewhere — there are plenty of fleet auxiliaries — so many opportunities all over — the dockside is teeming with sugar girls — come on Kaka — you know all this. If he was so bloody sex-starved — he could have rogered a midshipman for all I care — but stealing the affections of a senior officer’s wife…? It is just not acceptable — and I won’t tolerate it in my fleet.”
There was silence.
The JAG smiled to himself as he thought of the Admiral’s words.
In the Navy — it was all a matter of form.
The moral issue was a minor detail.
You could sow your wild oats elsewhere — but stealing the affections of brother officers’ wives was taboo — and if you got caught — you were thrown out of the Navy.
“Sir, please listen…” the Captain broke the silence.
“No, Kaka…” interrupted the Admiral, “It’s final. I have spoken to the C-in-C. We are throwing the bugger out.”
He gestured to the JAG — who gave him a folder.
The Admiral took out a typewritten sheet from the JAG, looked at it and exclaimed, “Nobody…? Sub-Lieutenant “Nobody”…? What sort of name is that…? Is he a bloody Ding…?”
“No Sir. He is a Bong. His name is an anglicized version of…”
“Doesn’t matter…” the Fleet Commander interrupted the Captain.
The Admiral gave the sheet of paper to the Captain — and said to the Captain:
“You just get his signature on this letter — and personally give it back to me by closing hours today.”
“Resignation letter…? You want him to resign his commission on compassionate grounds…?” the Captain said, looking incredulous.
“That’s the best way…” the JAG spoke for the first time, “the C-in-C doesn’t want a scandal. He’s going to Delhi tomorrow and he’ll get the papers cleared personally. The C-in-C wants this officer out of the Navy immediately. And — he wants it done discreetly.”
“Yes, Kaka — you get his bloody signature, withdraw his ID card, throw him out of your ship, and put him on a train home today itself. I don’t want to see the filthy bugger on board when we sail out tomorrow…” the Admiral bellowed at the Captain.
“Nonsense,” the Captain said.
“What…?” the Admiral said, looking stunned.
“I am not a bloody Post Office. I am the Captain of a warship — the Flag Captain — the Commanding Officer of the Flagship of the Western Fleet. How can you punish a man without hearing him out…? It is against the principles of Naval Justice…” the Captain said firmly, raising his voice slightly for the first time.
“Justice my bloody foot…” roared the Admiral, “you get this straight, Kaka. The C-in-C desires that this officer is thrown out. I am your Boss — and –the C-in-C’s desire is my command. Kaka — don’t be stupid. There is no point jeopardising your career for the sake that dodgy son of a bitch.”
“Sub-Lieutenant Nobody is my officer, Sir — and it is my duty to be fair and just to all officers and men under my command,,,” the Captain said firmly.
“But the C-in-C has desired…”
The Captain interrupted the Admiral, and said bluntly:
“The C-in-C is not above Naval Law. He too is subject to the Navy Act. I respectfully submit, Sir — that due process is followed — and — the accused officer be heard — before you take a decision.”
The Admiral winced — he said nothing — and he looked as if he were in deep thought — as if he was weighing his options.
The JAG looked at the two Sea-Dogs — both tough leaders — but with contrasting styles — the profane hot-tempered volatile Admiral — and the steady soft-spoken Captain — who did not say much — but whatever little he said was sensible and relevant.
“Okay…” the Admiral said, “I will see the officer. Bring him to me as soon as possible.”
“He is waiting outside…” the captain said.
The Admiral smiled:
“March him up to me in five minutes.”
“Aye, Aye, Sir…” the Captain put on his peak cap.
The Captain saluted smartly and walked off.
Five minutes later Sub-Lieutenant Nobody stood at attention looking at the Admiral sitting across the polished mahogany table.
His Captain sat on a sofa on the side.
“Where is the JAG…?” the Captain asked.
“He is not required. I don’t want any of C-in-C’s goddam spies eavesdropping…” the Admiral said to the Captain.
Then the Admiral looked at Sub-Lieutenant Nobody — and said:
“Sub-Lieutenant Nobody — you are accused of stealing the affections of Commander Kumar’s wife…”
“That’s not true, Sir — I did not steal her affections…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
“What the hell do you mean “that is not true” — you were caught red-handed trying to steal her affections…” the Admiral shouted.
“Sir — actually — in fact — it was not me — but it was she — Yes, Sir — it was “she” who tried to steal my affections…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody blurted out.
The Admiral burst out laughing:
“Are you some sort of crazy bugger…?
How the hell can she steal your affections…?
Tomorrow — you will say that a woman can rape a man.
Now — you don’t give me bullshit.
You are up the shit creek — so answer properly.
Tell me — what exactly happened…?”
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said:
“She was drunk, Sir.
She wanted me — but I restrained myself…”
The Admiral shouted furiously at Sub-Lieutenant Nobody:
“Just tell me one thing, you dirty bugger — why the hell did you stay with her all night…?
The whole world saw you in there with her — the milkman, the maid, the chowkidar — and — of course — the bloody Flotilla Commander — he has even given a written complaint against you. And remember — he is a Senior Commodore.
It is your word against his — and — in the Navy — “the senior is always right”…”
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody looked at the Admiral.
“Sir — he is the root cause of everything…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
“Root Cause — the Commodore…?” the Admiral said, surprised.
“Yes, Sir — he is responsible for what happened…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
“I see — now you are blaming him for your troubles — can you please explain…?” the Admiral said, angrily.
“Sir — I was sitting in Club watching the May Queen Ball — when the lady came to me and asked me to dance with her. I told her that I did not know how to dance. In fact — I had refused Tanya earlier when she asked me for a dance…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
“Tanya…?” the Admiral said, confused.
“My daughter, Sir…” the Captain said.
“I see…” the Admiral hid a smile.
Then — the Admiral said to Sub-Lieutenant Nobody:
“Go on. I am listening…”
“Sir, this lady — she pulled me on the dance floor — and this Commodore tried to cut in — and she told him to go away. The lady — she seemed quite drunk — and she seemed very nervous and frightened — she told me she was not feeling well and asked me to take her to her home on Marine Drive. So — I took her in a taxi and dropped her home…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
“It seems a tall story — but suppose I believe you — you dropped her home — so that is when you should have left and come back to your ship. Why the hell did you stay on in her home…?” the Admiral said.
“Yes, Sir — that is exactly what I wanted to do — but as I was about to leave — the Commodore landed up — and he asked me what I was doing there — and he told me to get out. The lady asked the Commodore to go away — but he insisted on staying — so I asked him to go away — but he didn’t budge — so I pushed him out and I locked the door.”
“You physically pushed him out…?”
“Yes, Sir — I had to push him out since he refused to go away on his own — despite the lady asking him to do so…”
“You knew he was a Commodore, a superior officer…?”
“Yes, Sir — I know he is the flotilla commander.”
“Then what happened…? Why didn’t you leave after that…?”
“She asked me to stay. She was scared that he would come back. She said that the Commodore was eyeing her ever since her husband joined the flotilla. And now he had sent her husband away on a course and he was giving her unwelcome attentions — she said he was trying to seduce her — he wanted to sleep with her — she told me that he would come again if I left her alone — so she desperately asked me to stay.”
“So you stayed on to save the “damsel in distress” — come on, young man — tell your story to the marines. You are making all this up to save yourself. I don’t believe any lady would tell a stranger all this…”
“I swear I am telling the truth, Sir — she was drunk — she was very drunk. She told me that the Commodore had forced her to drink — maybe even spiked her drinks. I asked her why she went to the Club with the Commodore — if she knew his intentions. She told me that her own husband was forcing her to sleep with his boss…”
“What nonsense…?” the Admiral shouted, angrily.
“She said her husband was very ambitious and he wanted to get promoted at any cost…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
“I don’t believe all this hogwash…” the Admiral said.
“Sir — you will never believe what she told me next…”
“She said that her husband is impotent — he is not able to “do it”…”
“So — she wanted you to “do it”…?”
“And — you “did it”…?”
“No, Sir. She tried her best — she pulled me towards her — and she kissed me. I did feel tempted for a moment — but I controlled myself immediately. Then we slept, Sir — and I woke up in the morning by the sound of the bell — and when I opened the door — I saw the milkman, the chowkidar, the Commodore, and some others — all were standing outside…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
The Admiral stood up — he came around the desk — and he put his hands around Sub- Lieutenant Nobody’s shoulders.
“Sit down…” the Admiral told Sub- Lieutenant Nobody, gesturing towards a chair.
The Admiral himself sat on the desk — and he said to Sub- Lieutenant Nobody:
“I have never heard such a tall story in my life — but I like your brutal frankness — and my inner voice tells me that you are speaking the truth.
So I will make it easy for you — and — for all of us.
In the Navy we have a thing called “Honour”.
We don’t like to wash our dirty linen in public.
And — the honourable thing for you to do is to put in your papers.
I hear you are an IIT type.
You will surely get a job — maybe a much better job than the Navy.
And — if you do have any problem — we will help you out.”
The Captain watched in silence — intrigued at the sudden change in the Admiral’s demeanour.
Instead of his normal brash way — in which he treated subordinate officers like dirt — here — the Admiral was almost pleading to the Sub-Lieutenant.
He must be under real pressure from the C-in-C to hush up the matter — lest it blow up into a scandal.
The Admiral reached across his desk — picked up the typewritten resignation letter — and he put it in front of Sub-Lieutenant Nobody.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody read the letter — and — he said to the Admiral:
“I will not resign, Sir — I love the Navy — and — I haven’t done anything wrong…”
“Do you know the alternative…?” the Admiral said.
“Court Martial, Sir…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
“You will be charged with conduct unbecoming the character of an officer, conduct to the prejudice of good order and naval discipline — maybe even striking a superior officer — and — if you are found guilty — you will be dismissed from the Navy with disgrace — and locked up in jail for at least three years. Well — from the evidence at hand — it looks like you will certainly be found guilty. So — it is best for you to quit the Navy silently — without any fuss — and the Honour of the Navy remains intact…” the Admiral said.
“What about my Honour, Sir…?” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
“Your Honour — are you crazy — you are up the shit creek — and you are talking of your Honour…?”
“Yes, Sir — my Honour — and the lady’s Honour. If I resign — it will be an admission of guilt…”
“But — you are guilty…”
“I am not guilty, Sir — I did not do anything wrong…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
“Son — don’t be dogmatic. Take the easy choice…” the Admiral said.
“Admiral — when they blamed you for that “collision at sea” accident many years ago — you too could have taken the easy choice — but you elected for a court-martial — and you redeemed your Honour…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
On hearing these words — the Admiral face became red — he seemed very angry.
“Get out of here…” the Admiral shouted at Sub-Lieutenant Nobody.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody saluted the Admiral.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody then looked at his Captain who was sitting quietly on the sofa.
The Captain indicated with his eyes to Sub-Lieutenant Nobody that he should leave.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody turned and started to walk away — but he stopped in his tracks when he heard the Admiral’s voice.
The Admiral said to Sub-Lieutenant Nobody:
“You are up the shit creek.
You better choose someone good to defend you at the court-martial…”
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody looked at the Admiral and spoke with confidence.
“I already have already chosen the best person to defend me, Sir — My Captain will defend me…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody said.
When the Captain heard these words — tears of pride welled up in his eyes.
For a Commanding Officer — this was the ultimate “proof of the pudding” — that his officers trusted him with their lives.
(The story narrated above is an excerpt from my under process Navy Novel “Nobody’s Navy” by Vikram Karve)
“NOBODY’S NAVY” By VIKRAM KARVE
UP SHIT CREEK — WITHOUT A PADDLE
After the Captain and Sub-Lieutenant Nobody return from the Fleet Commander’s office — the Captain asks all officers of INS Bijlee to assemble in the wardroom for brainstorming.
The Captain explains what had happened in the Fleet Commander’s Office — and then — he asks Sub-Lieutenant Nobody to tell them everything — the whole story.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody tells them everything — each and every thing — as there were no secrets between shipmates — at least on a happy ship like INS Bijlee.
After they have heard the whole story — “Doc” (the Ship’s Doctor) speaks first:
“I just don’t understand how someone can pimp his own wife.
How can a husband ask his wife to sleep with his boss…?”
Schoolie looks at “Doc”.
“Dear “Doc” — remember you must be analytical, not judgemental, about these things — don’t look at it from your traditionalist old-fashioned puritan viewpoint as a “moral” issue. Don’t be dogmatic — you must look at it from the “practical” angle…” says “Schoolie” (the Ship’s Education Officer).
“Practical angle…?” Doc asks.
“Think about it this way. You’ve got a scooter, haven’t you…?”
“Yes — I have a scooter…”
“Is it a brand new scooter…?”
“No. It’s five years old…”
“Of course, my scooter works — it is in pretty good condition.”
“Can you lend your scooter to me…? I have to go to Colaba right now…”
“My scooter is not here now. I have lent my scooter to the Fleet Medical Officer…”
“I know. I saw you giving it to him before the long sailing. Tell me — why did you lend your scooter to your boss…? You could have refused him…”
“Why should I refuse him…? He needed the scooter. I wasn’t using it. And — he always uses it very carefully — and — he returns it back in proper condition after filling up the petrol tank. And after all — he is my boss…”
“Yes — that is the most important point — he is your boss. So — lending him your scooter earns you “goodwill”. Suppose you don’t lend him your scooter even when you are not using it — well — he is sure to think that you are a bloody arrogant selfish miserly bastard — and — he may roger your ACR and screw up your career…”
“So — what’s the harm in lending your scooter to your boss…?”
“By the same logic — what’s the harm in lending your wife to your boss…?”
“What…? Are you crazy…?”
“Let me explain you. Like your scooter — your wife is not brand new. Like your scooter — your boss will use her carefully. Like your scooter — your boss will return her back in good condition after “filling up” her “tank”. And — you will earn his “goodwill” which may translate into a thumping ACR and boost your career prospects. It’s all a question of values my dear friend. For you — “scooter-swapping” is no big deal. For these careerist guys — “wife-swapping” is no big deal. Think about it…”
All the officers sitting in the wardroom think about it.
It is strange yet cogent logic.
Schoolie is right — it is all a question of one’s values and priorities — to each to his own — no point being judgemental or taking a moral high ground — for — you never know — you may find yourself in a similar situation one day.
Also — “Schoolie” is the Ship’s “Education Officer” — the “repository of knowledge” — the undisputed “authority” on all subjects — so — “Schoolie” is “educating” them — like he always does — since he has no other work to do on the ship.
Observing that his “logic” has sunk in — “Schoolie” continues his pontification on the subject.
“The present case is even worse — well — the lady in question — the lady whose “affections” our friend Sub-Lieutenant Nobody is alleged to have “stolen” — her husband — do you know that they call him “Sea-Bitch”. The poor bugger can’t even “drive” his own “scooter”…” “Schoolie” says.
“Care to elaborate…?” the Engineer Officer says.
“Sir — if you are from one of these all-male boarding schools — you will understand. When he was a small boy — not even in his teens — “Sea-Bitch” was put into one of those macho all-male military schools by his dad — who wanted to vicariously realize his own unfulfilled dream of becoming a military officer by forcing his son to become a military officer. Besides — the father thought that boarding school life would make a man of his rather “effeminate” son. In those desolate all-male environments — the only available outlet for release of sexual energy are males — there are just no females available — so the only choice is buggery — unless you can satisfy your sexual needs with masturbation alone. Poor “Sea-Bitch” — he was a real delicate, effeminate, chikna type — who was most sought after to be buggered by his horny sex-starved testosterone charged seniors — and his nocturnal life in the dormitory was a never-ending orgy of buggery…” “Schoolie” says.
“Poor chap…” someone says.
“Like most boys from his school — he joined the academy as a cadet — and his sexual ordeal continued — as his reputation had preceded him — and — he was in high demand…” Schoolie says.
“Maybe he started liking it…” a voice pipes up.
“Maybe…” Schoolie says, “But most of such “forced” homosexuals — these “Peg Boys” — they recover back to their normal heterosexual selves when they get an opportunity to interact with females — or when they get married — but then — some “Peg Boys” turn exclusively homosexual. I think “Sea-Bitch” is one of them…”
“If he was exclusively homosexual — why did he marry…?”
“He probably thought marriage would “cure” him — or maybe — he married under family pressure. But now — it looks like he just can’t “get it up” with his wife…”
“And — “Stud-Bull” knows all this…?”
“Yes — I think “Stud-Bull” used to bugger “Sea-Bitch” earlier — and now — he has taken a fancy for his wife. So — he does a “quid pro quo” with “Sea-Bitch” — he will make sure “Sea-Bitch” goes overseas for a coveted training course — and — in exchange — “Sea-Bitch” will let “Stud-Bull” have a “good time” with his nubile wife. To me — it looks like “Sea-Bitch” agreed to this “quid pro quo” arrangement — so — “Stud-Bull” kept his end of the bargain and sent “Sea-Bitch” overseas on the course — but now — the wife won’t play ball…”
“An unwilling “scooter”…?”
“Ha Ha — Yes. And the “Damsel in Distress” is rescued by our very own “Knight in Armour” — the redoubtable Sub-Lieutenant Nobody…”
They all laugh.
Then — the Captain says: “So — what do we do…?”
“Sir — I think I must talk to her…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody says.
“Are you crazy…?” TASO says to Sub-Lieutenant Nobody.
“Maybe — Sub-Lieutenant Nobody has a point…” the Supply Officer says.
“What do you mean…?” the Captain asks the Supply Officer.
“Sir — there are only two persons who can make the formal complaint of “stealing affections” of a brother officer’s wife. Either — the aggrieved husband can complain. But he is overseas — and he probably doesn’t even know what happened out here. The second person who can complain is the wife — whose “affections” were “stolen”…” the Supply Officer says.
“Has she complained…?” the Captain says.
“Not yet, Sir — she hasn’t made any formal complaint so far. I found out from the JAG — who is my batch-mate. But — he said that they are already working on her — and — it looks like they will persuade her to make a formal complaint tomorrow morning. And if she adds a few more things like molestation, assault, outraging modesty etc. etc. Then — our friend Sub-Lieutenant Nobody is in thick shit. As it is they are charging him with conduct to the prejudice of good order and naval discipline, conduct unbecoming of an officer and the like — they are going to throw the book at him. Sir — it looks like Sub-Lieutenant Nobody is in real trouble — he is up shit creek…” the Supply Officer says, with a worried look on his face.
“Bloody hell — it looks like this lady is our only hope. You better meet her fast tonight before she does something drastic…” Guns says to Sub-Lieutenant Nobody.
“Yes, Sir…” Sub-Lieutenant Nobody says looking at the Captain, “I think I’ll go and meet her…”
“No. Don’t go to her place. That’s dangerous. “Stud-Bull” is a powerful chap. Remember — he is the Flotilla Commander — and — all his cronies and those NOWA hags will be hanging around her house. We’ll have to meet her somewhere else, undisturbed. I’ll work it out…” the Captain says.
Then — the Captain put his hand on Sub-Lieutenant Nobody’s shoulder and speaks in an assuring voice.
“You don’t worry, Son. You are not alone. We are all with you. It is not your problem. It is our problem — a wardroom problem — a ship’s problem — and we are going to come out of all this muck with flying colours…” the Captain says.
Sub-Lieutenant Nobody looks at the Captain — then — he looks at all his shipmates seated around him in the wardroom.
He senses their rock-solid support and he is overwhelmed by the comforting feeling of brotherhood and camaraderie.
And — of course — he is sure that the lady would tell the truth.
Or — would she tell lies and put Sub-Lieutenant Nobody “Up Shit Creek without a Paddle”…?
End of Three Excerpts from Navy Novel Nobody’s Navy by Vikram Karve comprising:
Part 1 : How Sub Lieutenant NOBODY became a “Somebody” url: https://karve.wordpress.com/2018/12/27/humor-nobodys-navy-chapter-1-command-at-sea/
Part 2 : Stealing Affections — A Matter of Honour url: https://karve.wordpress.com/2018/12/27/humor-nobodys-navy-chapter-2-stealing-affections/
Part 3 : Up Shit Creek — without a Paddle url: https://karve.wordpress.com/2018/12/28/humor-nobodys-navy-chapter-3-up-shit-creek-without-a-paddle/
To be continued …
Copyright © Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
- These stories are fictional spoofs, pure fiction, satire, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
- 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.
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 source post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/02/stories-from-nobodys-navy-my-navy-novel.html and in my writing blog at url: https://karve.wordpress.com/2020/02/05/humor-in-uniform-nobodys-navy-excerpts-from-my-unfinished-novel-about-the-adventures-of-sub-lieutenant-nobody/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2021/05/28/my-unfinished-novel-nobodys-navy/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2022/05/26/my-unfinished-book-nobodys-navy/ etc
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
The above stories are Abridged and Updated Versions of my blog posts posted in June 2013
NOBODY’S NAVY at urls:
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/06/nobodys-navy-by-vikram-karve-my-naval.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/06/nobodys-navy-by-vikram-karve-my-naval.htmland http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/07/humor-in-uniform-nobody-becomes-somebody.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/02/stories-from-nobodys-navy-my-navy-novel.html and https://karve.wordpress.com/2018/12/29/humor-in-uniform-excerpts-from-my-unfinished-navy-novel-nobodys-navy/ and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/11/humor-in-uniform-stealing-affections.html
and NOBODY BECOMES A SOMEBODY — LEARNING THE ART OF NAVAL COMMAND at url:
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/06/nobody-becomes-somebody-learning-art-of.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/11/officer-like-qualities-aka-olq-art-of.html and https://karve.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/art-of-naval-command-humor-in-uniform-excerpt-from-novel-nobodys-navy-by-vikram-karve/ and https://www.quora.com/profile/Vikram-Karve/Writing-by-VIKRAM-KARVE/Nobody%E2%80%99s-Navy-%E2%80%93-My-Fictional-Spoof-on-Naval-Lifeand http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/07/humor-in-uniform-nobody-becomes-somebody.html and https://karve.wordpress.com/2017/12/22/humor-in-uniform-the-art-of-command-at-sea/and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/06/nobody-becomes-somebody-learning-art-of.html etc.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.