Grandma was dying. The family physician who had come to examine her called Rupa aside and said
“Sorry, Rupa, your grandma’s final hour has come. It is a matter of days, one or two at the most. Pick up courage and do not break down. Take heart that you have been taking care of her single handed all these years. But send word to your uncle. If you need any help, you can call me” said the kind and elderly doctor.
“Thank you doctor for coming. I am really scared. I am afraid I will be a destitute without her. She is the only person in the world who is kind to me” she said and started weeping.
“Do not worry as long as I am there. I will send someone to help you. But your uncle will surely come to take possession of this house” he said as he patted her comfortingly.
She hurried to grandma’s room and sat by her side caressing her arm.
“What does he say? the old lady asked feebly
“It is just old age and extreme exhaustion, grandma.I will get you some horlicks. You will feel better”
“Not now, a little later. I wish to tell you something. Come closer. Listen carefully”
Rupa snuggled closer to grandma putting her arm around her body.
“Rupa, I don’t need our doctor to tell me that my end is near. My only regret and worry is that I am leaving you alone unsettled in this wide world.Eversince your parents died in a train accident, I have been bringing you up. They were both young when they died. My daughter was such an affectionate and good person. Luckily you have imbibed all her good traits. Your uncle was all right initially and was very fond of you. He changed after his marriage and went to live separately. Your aunt never took a liking for both of us and weaned her husband away from you. They rarely visit me as you know. Luckily I have a roof and some pension from government that I could take care of you” she stopped as she started coughing
“Grandma, take rest. We can talk later. Sleep for a while. I will be here by your side”
“No, I must finish telling you now itself. Give me some water.” She continued after sipping the water
“The first thing your aunt would do after I die is to throw you out of this house. She will not allow you to take anything. My son is henpecked and would not protest. I have spoken to the doctor. Go to him. He will do the needful. You are qualified and can take up a job. Find a good man of your choice and marry him.”Grandma could not continue talking.
“How sweet of you to be so concerned grandma. I can take care of myself .Do not worry. My only regret is I will miss you” she said as tears flowed from her eyes
“Do not cry, my dear. It makes me sad. I wish to die seeing you in smile. One second, lest I forget” she said as she took from under the pillow a hand bag that was dirty looking and old with sides in shreds.”Keep it with you safely in your box as a memento. Do not part with it or tell that I gave you. In case she finds it out and asks tell her it is yours. Let me sleep for a while. Do not go away. Hold my hand” she said as she closed her eyes.
That was the last she spoke. A week later, her aunt said “We are planning to sell this house. Make your own arrangements after the ceremonies are over.”Her uncle who was standing beside her did not interrupt her.
Rupa said” I can go now itself and will attend the ceremonies of grandma daily. Give me 30 minutes to have a wash and take my things. They are only my daily wear clothes”
“Where will you go? I don’t want others to blame us that we drove you out”
“I expected this and have taken a room in our doctor’s house till such time I get a regular place. Thanks for the concern. I will be here in 30 minutes” Rupa said as she went to her room.
As she came to the hall with a small box and carry bag, her aunt said rather curtly “Open them and show us what you are taking”
Rupa could not suppress her tears at the humiliation but opened the box and bag to empty the contents.”What is that dirty dog eared bag? Whose is that?”
“It is mine. You can have a look”
“Take it away. Who would touch that stinking bag? Has your grandma given you anything?”
“Yes in plenty” Rupa replied
“What is that? Show me. I suspected something like that”
“Nothing tangible. Only her affection”
“Take her abundant affection with you and get lost” said her aunt in a dismissive way.
The doctor and his wife welcomed Rupa warmly. After some pleasantries, he asked whether grandma had given her anything.
“Nothing except a bag, a memento as she called. But that is my prized possession”
“Can I have a look?”asked the doctor.
He opened the tattered bag and found to his disappointment that it was empty.
The doctor’s wife wished to see and as she carefully ran her fingers, she shouted “There is something here. “
They tore the thick inner lining and found a small key with a note.”My dear Rupa. Go to ABC bank with doctor. This key is for the locker with a number on it. You are a nominee. I have bequeathed this large portion of my jewels for you. I have kept some in the house lest they become suspicious and harass you. Take doctor’s help. You will have enough to live comfortably. Take up a job.Blessings.Grandma”
Doctor’s wife put her arm around Rupa and comforted her as she started crying uncontrollably thinking of her grandma’s concern and kindness.