the “clean” marriage

Vikram Karve
12 min readNov 28, 2023



Fiction Short Story by Vikram Karve




Story by Vikram Karve




circa 2004

Café Samovar — Mumbai


“I want a “clean” marriage…” she says.

“Clean Marriage…?” he asks her, confused.

“A marriage without an “intimate” relationship…” the woman says.

“You want to have a marriage without sex…?” the man asks the woman.

“Yes. A “chaste” relationship — just companionship — no physical relationship…” the woman says.

“Just “platonic” love — no “sexual” love…?” the man says.

“Love…? Well — you can say — a pure and clean “platonic nonsexual relationship”…” the woman says.

The man is puzzled by the woman’s proposal.


Seeing the expression of uncertainty on the man’s face — the woman says to him:

“You think about it.

If you think that a “clean marriage” is feasible — and — if you are agreeable for a “clean marriage” — then — please come here tomorrow evening — same time — and we can take it further.

I will be waiting for you.

But — if you don’t like the idea — please don’t come.

I will understand that you are not interested in a “clean marriage” …”


After saying this — the woman smiles at the man — she gets up from her seat — she turns around — and — she walks out of Samovar Café.




Next Evening

Café Samovar — Mumbai


When the man enters Café Samovar next evening — he sees the woman sitting on the same table.

He smiles at her — and — he walks towards her.

She smiles back at him.


The woman says to the man:

“I knew you would come…”


The man sits down in front of the woman.

They ordered Snacks and Tea — the Samovar Special Pakoda Platter and Pudina Chai (Mint Flavoured Tea)


The woman speaks first.

“I know there are many questions in your mind. Please speak freely and ask whatever you want. After all — we are thinking of getting married — so — there should be no doubts or confusion at all…” she says to the man.

“You want a completely “sexless” and “sex-free” marriage…?” the man asks the woman.

“Yes…” she says.

“If you are not interested in sex — why get married at all…?

“Is “sex” the only reason why people get married…?”

“No. But it is one of the reasons…”

“But — I don’t want “sex” in my marriage…”

“But why…?”

“I am afraid of having sex…”

“Oh. So — you are not “asexual” — you have “genophobia”…”


“Yes — genophobia — fear of sex — you are afraid of sexual intimacy…”

“Yes. I have fear of sex. I am afraid of sexual intimacy…”

“May I ask why you are afraid of sexual intimacy..?” the man says.

Seeing the expression of discomfort on the woman’s face — the man feels he has said something wrong — so — he speaks to the woman in a contrite tone of voice.

“I am very sorry…” he says to the woman, “It was very inappropriate of me — I apologise…”

“No. No. I will tell you. After all — you are the first man who has shown interest in marrying me despite my precondition for a “clean marriage”. You can ask me whatever you want to ask…” the woman says.

“Your fear of sexual intimacy — is it due to some traumatic incident…?” the man asks the woman.

“Yes. It happened 20 years ago. My uncle tried to brutally rape me. I was only 12 years old. It was a terrifying experience — gruesome and horrific — excruciatingly painful — I suffered unimaginable agony. I was totally shattered…”

“I’m so sorry…”

“And — after that traumatic incident — I haven’t had any form of sexual contact with anyone — I feel terrified by the very thought of sex — I feel frightened if any man comes near me — or touches me….”

“And women…?”

“What do you mean…?”

“Have you been intimate with women…?”

“What are you saying…?” the woman says, looking uncomfortable.

“It’s okay — it’s okay — let’s talk something else…” the man says, trying to comfort the woman.

The woman remains silent for some time.


Then — the woman looks at the man — into his eyes.

And — the woman says to the man:

“Let me make it clear.

I am not a lesbian.

I like men.

I like being friends with of men.

I want the companionship of a man.

That is why I want to get married.

But — I am afraid of having sex with a man.

That’s why I want a “clean” marriage…”


After hearing the woman’s words — the man thinks for some time before speaking.

“A “clean” marriage…!!! I really wonder…?” the man says, looking a bit unsure.

“I am sure we will be able to make it work…” the woman says to the man, “you and me — can’t we have a “pure” and “chaste” relationship — can’t we enjoy each other’s company and live together as best friends…?”

“We can have a “trial marriage” — we can live together…” the man suggests.

“No. No. I want a proper marriage — a commitment — we will have everything that is there is a proper marriage — except sex…” the woman says.

“Oh. So — no “Ludus”…!!!” the man says.

“Ludus…? What’s “Ludus”…? It sounds obscene…!!!” the woman says to the man.

“No. No. Nothing obscene about it…!!! “Ludus” is playful and uncommitted love — like they have in casual relationships…” the man says.

“Oh…! Yes — no “Ludus”…!!!” the woman says with a smile.

“Well — you want “Philia” — friendship, goodwill, companionship, dependability, trust…” the man asks the woman.

“Yes. Yes. That is what I want…” the woman says.

“And maybe — a bit of “Pragma” — and of course — “Storge” — a sort of “familial” love — a long-term relationship where sex may not be that important…” the man says to the woman.

“I don’t want sex at all…” the woman says.

“Of course — you made that quite clear right from the beginning — absolutely no “Eros” — no sexual passionate love…” the man says.

“I am getting confused by your jargon…” the woman says.

“It’s not “jargon” — there are seven types of love — Eros, Philia, Storge, Agape, Ludus, Pragma, Philautia — if you’re interested — I’ll tell you more…” the man says.

“Of course I’m interested — tell me…” the woman says to the man.


So — the man tells the woman all about love.

And — the woman listens intently to the man.


And — when he finishes — the woman says to the man:

“You know so much.

You are very interesting man.

I would love to get married to you.

I think we can have a great “clean” marriage.

Come on — let’s get married…”


On hearing the woman’s proposal — the man hesitates for a moment before he speaks.

“I think we should meet one more time…” the man says.

“Okay. Tomorrow evening — over here — same time…?” the woman says.

“Let’s meet at my place. Unless…” the man is saying when the woman interrupts him.

“Yes. Let’s meet at your place. I’d love to see your house…” the woman says, enthusiastically.

“Okay. I’ll message you my address and exact location…” the man says to the woman.

“That’s great. I’ll come after work in the evening…” the woman says, smiling.

“I’ll wait for you. We can talk — and cook some dinner together…” the man says to the woman.

“Wow. I would love that. But tomorrow — we will talk about you. I have told you about myself — my expectations. Now — you will have to tell me why you are interested in a “clean” marriage…” the woman says to the man.

“Okay…” the man says, “see you tomorrow…”


Then — they — the man and the woman — they get up from their seats — walk out of Samovar Café — into the foyer of Jehangir Art Gallery — they wish each other “Good Bye” — and walk away towards their destinations.




Next Evening

The Man’s Apartment on Marine Drive — Mumbai


The next evening — at 7 PM — the woman rings the doorbell of the man’s sea-facing 3rd floor flat on Marine Drive.

The man opens the door — he smiles at the woman — and speaks to the woman.

“Welcome to my home. Did you find the place easily…?” the man says to the woman.


“Yes. I walked down from my office…” the woman says.

The woman walks around the spacious living room and goes into the airy balcony with a beautiful view of the Arabian Sea — the sun has just set a few moments ago — it’s twilight — and the spectacle of the grey sky over the tranquil sea is soothing to the soul.

“You have a lovely house…” the woman says.

“Thank you…” the man says — and he asks the woman, “would you like a drink…?”

“I’d love a chilled beer…” she says.

The man pours a glass of beer for her — and — a stiff whisky-soda for himself.

“Let’s sit in the balcony…” the woman says, “the view is lovely and the breeze is cool…”

They sit in the balcony — sip their drinks.

The woman looks at the man — and she speaks to him.

“Tell me — why do you want a “clean” marriage…?” the woman asks the man.


“I feel that sex is dirty…” the man says.

“Dirty…? You feel that sex is dirty…? But — I once heard someone say that good sex is supposed to be “dirty”…” the woman says.

“Not that type of “dirty”…” the man says, “I feel that the act of sex is disgusting — repulsive…”

“Oh — so you hate sexual intimacy — you find it dirty and repulsive…” the woman says.

“Yes…” the man says.

“And — may I ask why…?” the woman says.

“Well. I don’t wish to go into details. So — let’s leave it at that…” the man says.

“See. We have to be totally frank with each other. I told you everything yesterday — why I want a “clean” marriage — I told you that I am afraid of sex — I told you the reason why I am afraid of sex — due to that traumatic experience where my uncle tried to brutally rape me. What about you…? Were you sexually abused when you were small…? Is that why you find sex so disgusting and repulsive…?” the woman says.

“No. No. I was not sexually abused. It is something else…” the man says.

“Something else…? Come on — tell me everything — I am going to be your wife…” the woman says.

“Well — long ago — around 20 years ago — when we were deck cadets — we used to visit lots of ports all over the world — and once — out of curiosity — and — more out of peer pressure — we visited a brothel — a whorehouse…” the man says.

“Oh — so you have been to prostitutes…?” the woman asks him.

“Only once — and — after that disgusting experience — never afterwards…” the man says.

“What happened…?” the woman asks the man.

“It was a sleazy place — filthy, smelly and squalid — and the hideous woman — she was so coarse and distasteful — the experience was so repulsive — that I just couldn’t perform…” the man says, embarrassed.

“Couldn’t perform…?” the woman asks him, curious.

“Yes — I was only 18 — it was my first time — and — I had this horrid experience — and after that — I started feeling that sex is dirty, disgusting and unclean…” the man says.

“You never had sex after that…?” the woman asks him.

“No…” the man says.

“You don’t find women attractive…?” the woman asks the man.

“Of course, I do — I am not “gay” — I find women attractive — but — when it comes to sex…” the man says, hesitantly.

“So — you never tried to have sex with a woman after that tragic first experience…?” the woman asks the man.

“I tried — a few times — but — let’s not talk about it…” the man says.

“Okay. Just one last thing…” the woman says.

“One last thing…?” the man says, curious.

“Don’t you get the “urge” sometimes…?” the woman asks the man.

“Why are you asking all this..?” the man says, feeling a bit discomfited.

“I am worried that if you suddenly get the “urge” — you may do something to me…” the woman says.

“Why will I do something to you…? I told you that I find the very idea of sexual intercourse dirty…” the man says.

“So — what do you do when you get the “urge”…?” the woman asks the man.

“You are going into great detail — aren’t you…?” the man says, feeling a bit affronted by the woman’s line of questioning.

“Come on — we are going to be husband and wife — no secrets between us. Tell me — what do you do when get the “urge”…” the woman says with a friendly smile, trying to make the man feel comfortable.

“I satisfy myself…” the man says, with a tinge of shyness.

“Me too…” the woman says to the man, “We are in “sync” — aren’t we…? We both hate sex — you find sex “dirty” — and — I am “scared” of sex. We are quite “compatible” — aren’t we — at least as far as sex is concerned…?”

“Yes…” the man says, “I think a “clean” marriage will suit us — no sex — just companionship and love…” the man says.

“Love…?” the woman asks, raising her eyebrows.

“Yes — I think I have fallen in love with you…” the man says to the woman.

“Me too…” the woman says, “you were the first one who responded to my “clean marriage” matrimonial advertisement — and — we met the same day. At our first meeting itself — I liked you so much — and — I could see that you liked me too — and — I knew that things would work out — so — I deleted my matrimonial profile from the site that very evening…”

“So — should we go ahead…?” the man asks the woman.

“Of course — let’s get married…” the woman says to the man.

“I will be so happy to be married — when I return from sea — I wouldn’t have to come to an empty house — I know you will be waiting for me…” the man says, “and maybe — if things work out — I will take up the Superintendent’s job they are offering me — then my office will be near yours too…”

“Yes. It will be good for me too — to have a friend and companion like you. And — all those lecherous men who prey on single women — they will stop pestering me — once they know I am married…” the woman says.

“Yes. Let’s get married …” they say together in a happy voice.


They clink their glasses and raise a toast:

“Let’s wish ourselves a successful “clean” marriage…”


And so — the man and the woman — they got married.

Their “clean” marriage was a great success.




Yes — the man and the woman — they got married — and — their “clean” marriage was a great success.


Dear Reader:

You may be wondering:

How do I know that their marriage was a success…?


Well — around 10 years after they got married — I met the couple in Café Samovar at the Jehangir Art Gallery.

They looked so happy — the man — the woman — and their two children — a boy and a girl — the “by-products” of their “clean” marriage.



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  1. This blog post is a fictional spoof, 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 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.
  3. E&OE

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Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, alumnus IIT Delhi, Lawrence School Lovedale, Vikram Karve is a retired Navy Officer turned full time Writer and Blogger