What Did The Old Lady Want?

Part 1

‘Did you hear about what happened in Flat #6?’

‘She was a little over seventy and quite healthy until only a few months ago. The old lady became bedridden. The girl was nice – I meant her grand-daughter, Neelu. She even had a nurse to attend to the lady in the night. Of course, the son must have paid for it.’

‘The son came down from Australia?’

‘Yes, he came on Sunday by evening.  It was sad that he wasn’t with her in the last days. She was held in the morgue for a day. You should see how broken down he was. After all a mother at any age is still a mother. They held the funeral on the same night. But, going back to your query, what had you heard that I don’t know about, being their next door neighbor?’

‘Well, I heard from Kallu bhai (domestic help) – you know, she works for me too.’

‘Yes, these bhai’s carry tales from one house to another.’

 ‘No, No, Kallu bhai is not one of them. All she said was there were some heated arguments between the son and the damaad (son-in-law) over the flat. The mutt she is, she didn’t follow much of what was happening beyond this bit.’

‘Why, it is obvious. The son, Vipul, may have wanted the flat vacated – you know, we are on the verge of going for redevelopment. The new flat would then fetch nothing less than one and a half crores. With the property prices shooting up to stratospheric heights, no one wants to yield an inch. In these days, there are unseemly property disputes in all families – that’s no surprise.’

‘One can’t fault the son for it. After all he is the legitimate heir to the lady’s property. May be the lady would have liked to leave something for Neelu.’

 ‘Some money, yes.  But a flat worth a crore and a half? No, I don’t think at any time the lady wanted to deprive Vipul of his claims though she did great sympathy for the orphan daughter of her daughter. It’s the son-in-law who must be making trouble.’

‘I heard he does not want to vacate.’

‘You hear a lot for someone staying some distance away. I must be going, there is dinner to cook yet – will catch up with you later.’

Part 2

‘What is it, Neelu? Tell me if I can do anything for you.’  

’Thanks, Aunty. We were cleaning Patti’s trunk – came across this bunch. You know she used to write stories even while on bed. Came to check up with you if you would like to have them. I know you read her stories and critiqued it for her. I’m not sure if she had shown these to you.’

‘That’s nice of you – I’m glad you brought it for me and not simply disposed it off. She wrote well with family sittings replete with pulls and counter-pulls – must be her childhood and growing up in a large family. A simple straight forward style, yet interesting. Amazingly, no scratching, no corrections at all – don’t know if she had churned out drafts before the final copy. I enjoyed reading them. Kept telling her to publish a collection. She didn’t think anyone would be interested. Do you want these back after I’m done reading them?’

‘No, Aunty. And we, both of us, are not much into these family stories – I have read a couple quite some time back. And I’ll come to you certainly if I need any help…Thanks, so much.’

Part 3

A couple of days after the old lady’s demise, the son-in-law approached the secretary of the society of flats, with an application to transfer the Flat #6 onto his name.  In support of his claim, he produced a typed letter that the secretary recognized immediately as the one that was signed by the old lady when she was in full possession of her wit and faculties and duly witnessed by him.

There was no hanky-panky in the signing ceremony. The son-in-law, Neelu and the nurse had collected around her. The lady appeared to be in good cheer though weak. Nevertheless, he had come away a little disturbed by the contents of the letter when it was read out to him. But then if that’s what the old lady wanted, who was he to be concerned.

Now, he didn’t like doing this to Vipul whom he had seen grow up over years here before he took up an assignment in Australia only a couple of years ago. He always thought of Vipul as a decent boy and a man now. But the letter sealed Vipul’s fate and there wasn’t much that he could do in their family matters.  When Vipul went away, he had invited his niece and her husband to stay in his flat and take care of his mother as quid pro quo. He was just being extra careful – she was quite well then.

The secretary bought a fortnight’s time and assured the son-in-law he would do the needful.

 Part 4

‘Serves him right for abandoning the poor wife and the sweet kid.’

‘I agree. But if I were him, I’ll have my own ways of spoiling the act for them without raising an iota of suspicion.’

‘What would you do, my genius?’

The two sisters were drawn into what was happening on the silver-screen before them – the mistress and her son were pressurizing the helpless man to sign away his house to them, under the threat of harm to his wife and daughter.

‘I would sign as Niranjani with all the three dots right above the ‘i’s’ and the ‘j’.’

‘So?’

‘My dear Sis, that should scream to you aloud that something is amiss. If you noticed, usually I place the dots shifted deliberately to the right by a few millimeters.’

This dialog was on the fifth page of ‘Two Sisters’, a story in the manuscript pile.

Part 5

Whatever had to be done had to be done.

The manuscript was on the secretary’s desk with parts highlighted.

The deceased lady went by the name of Sriranjani.

End

 

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2 Responses to What Did The Old Lady Want?

  1. gopal says:

    Fiction or real, i wonder..Wonder how to react

    Like

  2. trisha says:

    beautiful story raghu.

    Like

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