Don’t Mess With Her

(Based on a real-life story)

kriplani pazhayathu.blogspot com low

A few days after the death, they were queuing up at the door, carrying the post-dated checks. It was tough for the lady to set aside her grief and negotiate with them.

Was Providence was pointing it out to him? He turned it over in his mind. Seemed flawless, quick, clear and dirty. Unfortunate, but the exigencies…no choice.

He was the book-keeper for years also doing odd jobs for the family. The lady was kind and treated him well, almost like one of them. But was she good for the kind of funds he needed to get his daughter married off? He was enough of a man of the world to know the limits.

He made his move when the lady was relaxing with afternoon tea.

‘Amma, there’s a small matter…I don’t know how to bring it up with you?’

‘What is it? Tell me.’

‘I had given Ayyia (employer, master) money…’

There was a mild rattle of the china and spilling of tea.

‘What?’

He rushed to wipe the table clear.

‘Yes Amma, it was the money I had set aside for the marriage. But I couldn’t bear to see Ayyia…’

Silence.

‘I refused to take…How could I? Ayyiya’s words meant to me more than any check-weck…’

He helped her get up from the rocking-chair. Several kilos off would make it easier on the knees.

Now she was standing level and eye-to-eye.

Though not unexpected, he wilted under her intense gaze.

‘How much?’ said in even tone.

Words came out reluctantly: ‘Fifteen lakhs…’

‘Fifteen lakhs! So you’re telling me you gave fifteen lakhs you had?’

A loaded two-in-one poser. The question of how he came into that kind of money had to be handled first. It couldn’t be from what she paid him, to be sure.  Now for the second part – the incredulity in ‘you’re telling me you gave…’ – could wait. Highly probable he may not have to address it at all.

‘Yes, Amma, believe me…there was a small piece of land in the village…had no choice…had to sell it off.’

He continued: ‘I know it’s a wrong time…A marriage proposal has come up; good family, the boy is well employed…’

There was no encouragement to elaborate further.

Mainly he was relieved it was over now. It didn’t matter if she believed or not. Too cultured to be questioning his integrity openly, he thought.

Quite unexpectedly she broke down.

Pausing in her sobs, ’We thought you were our well-wisher…How could you do this?’

‘I saw what he was going through, Amma…it was not nice…going door to door for funds …people without a qualm shutting him out…it would have been quite heartless of me not to…’

She broke the silence, her eyes hardened: ‘Listen, you pack up your things and go. Whatever little, I’ll manage here on. You cannot continue here.’

With the money in his hands, he didn’t have to. He had kind of seen it coming.

‘I don’t want to see your face any more.’

Eh? For the first time he felt things were veering off course.

‘Amma?’

‘I’ve lost my son because of you.’

What was that? Like one of our friendly neighbours landing assault troops in Cochin.

‘If you had not lent him the money, he wouldn’t have collected sufficient money to embark on his crazy idea, not lost tit all and not suffered a heart-attack. And you also knew how foolish and disastrous was his earlier real-estate ‘money-spinner’ venture. If anything ended spinning, it wasn’t money. So in a way you caused his death…’

She was not finished with him.

‘Paavi (the cursed one), I won’t pay you a rupee. If you don’t go, I may have to call…’

Was she kidding him?

He would never find out for sure.

For days, his family didn’t quite figure out why he was not stepping out.

End

 

 

 

Source: Image of Sucheta Kripalani from pazhayathu.blogspot.com

 

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3 Responses to Don’t Mess With Her

  1. theotheri says:

    Ooooo – this is a tough one – in more ways than one. Too bad Amma wasn’t always the money-manager in the household instead of Ayyia, no?

    Liked by 1 person

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