Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Family Jewels

--500 words
-- Tell a tale fictional or otherwise in the voice of a "sutradhar", not so much in the manner of a puppeteer as a not completely dispassionate, but a slightly detached yet empathetic observer and know-er of the mechanics of this tale
The Family Jewels
Bahurani is crying her heart out, it seems. My son has been working in his study: these lockdown days means he can happily work from home. No tiffin–shiffin lafda. No outside food. Better for his system. Not so good for his maharani. Three hot meals every day, without fail, and no maid to help. I do chop vegetables and clean the rice and dals, but the flat is big, hard to keep clean. Poor Prem has just finished for the day, but instead of having a tray of tea ready for him in the drawing room, Bahurani is busy with rona–dhona. Let me go and make the tea, then maybe I will get to know what has upset her so much.
I told you not to send her to the hostel, Prem. I knew it wouldn’t be good for her.
Rama, what on earth is the matter? Reena’s fine, isn’t she? She’s also staying in her room, I hope, not stepping out? Covid 19 is so unpredictable and scary. Woh thheek toh hai na?
She has gone and got the craziest idea, Prem.
She’s okay, na?
Haan, but I think she’s gone crazy.
She hasn’t eloped with anyone, has she?
No. Maybe this is worse.
Arrey Rama, just tell me what the matter is.
Poor Prem. Having to deal with so much suspense. I put the tray on the coffee table and move towards the door, but Rama stops me with a gesture:
Mummyji, you should also hear what your precious darling wants me to do.
Bahu, she’s a sensible girl. She’s twenty six. She’s a PhD scholar. She won’t do anything stupid.
I sit on my easy chair with the extra high cushion.
Reena wants us to sell all the jewellery we had got made for her wedding and donate the proceeds for feeding the homeless migrant workers.
What is there to cry about, Rama? It’s a noble thought.
Noble thought my foot. Has she forgotten how we struggled and scrimped and saved to buy those sets? How we’ve dreamed of seeing our only daughter adorned as a bride? She even says (huge sob) that she doesn’t plan to marry, anyway.
Rama, she has never asked us for anything. She’s been a scholarship holder throughout her college years. She obviously can’t give anything much from her stipend. How much does she actually want to donate?
And she said to keep Nani’s and Dadi’s jewellery for Nannu’s wife, the ancestral stuff, for whenever he gets married.
Chalo, good she didn’t ask you to dispose of those heirlooms.
Mummyji, what should we do?
Listen to your daughter, what else? What else can you do, anyway? Do what makes her happy. Who knows what will happen tomorrow, especially these days. If you bought it for her, it is hers, wedding or no wedding.
I smile to myself. At eighty-seven, I am my granddaughter’s confidante. She has told me that she is in love with her roomie, Priya.

No comments: