Our beloved grand father passed away one fine summer morning and our day became dreary, as we loved him so much. He was in his nineties, yet we could not digest the fact that he wouldn’t be there in the midst of us.
All of us went to his home town. All his sons and daughters- in- law; all his daughters and sons- in -law and all we grandchildren from all parts of the world, for it was a sign of respect to the departed and beloved soul.
Ours is a large family and the old man left behind four sons and five daughters and twenty grandchildren all bereaving for the departed dear.
Tears flowed down our eyes. We wrung our hands. We felt each one’s grief must be greater, for all of us loved him so much! We did the last rites to his dear body. We did various prayers and offerings so that his soul can rest in peace. We did poor feeding. We did all that we could so that his journey to the other world would be smooth, for he was loved by us. Though we knew death was inevitable we could not help feeling the vacuum created by our grand pa’s death.
We talked of his younger days. We talked of his hey day. We talked of his achievements. We talked of his generosity. We talked of his relation with others and of his greatness, for that was our beloved and favourite topic. We walked all around his mansion and could not help recalling all the times we had visited him. Of course the visits in recent times were for short duration but still we managed to look in on him when ever we could schedule the visit.
Our grandfather was a man who had an eye for beautiful artifacts. He had the income and also an opportunity to visit places around the globe. He had a rare collection of beautiful objects which he had collected and displayed artistically in his farm house. Each one of us wanted to possess his mementos. Each one of us wanted his gilt-edged photo frame. Each one of us coveted his ivory chess set. Each one of us had an eye on his famous painting collection.
Each one of us wanted his antique chair. Each one of us wanted his coin collection. Each one of us angled for his material things, for we were eager to remember our beloved grand pa in the years to come.
We did not want to be present when his will was read for we missed him so much. Yet each one of us was present when the lawyer came, for we wanted our dear old man not to feel deserted. We willed ourselves to listen to the dear old man’s will for our affection for him was so great that we decided to place his feelings before ours. The lawyer began in his usual ponderous tone. My grandfather was a great one for charity and no wonder he had donated something to all charities right from home for the aged, the orphans to dogs’ home and cats’ home!
Not to worry the old man could quite afford to satisfy his whims and still have plenty.
He was a major shareholder in many companies and his own thriving family concern. My father and two of the uncles were directors over there. My grandfather was the Chairman cum managing director. He had great business acumen. He started with nothing and yet, he built a multi million company. None of us knew how much he was truly worth but he had a proper vision and he was a man of unwavering principles. We were sure we all would be remembered in some small way.
It is not that we wanted or coveted his material things but we wanted them only as a remembrance!!!
Each one of us looked at the other wondering if the other person would be luckier. We counted all the times each one of us visited the darling. How many small token of presents we gave to our grandpapa. We weighed how much our grandfather would have loved us in return for all our affection and the time we devoted to him.
The will was read and we were in for a rude shock. He had disposed off the major stocks in all the other companies except his own. He even created an educational trust with the proceeds of the sale. To add insult to the injury the entire farmhouse and its surrounding property was willed to that upstart who received the whole chunk of the old crony’s property to do as he deemed it fit? How could our grandfather do that to us when we took so much care of him? What did that senile man think he was doing? How could he cut off the family when we were so good to him? We never forgot him even in the times we were too busy climbing the ladder of success. Yes, of course our parents could not personally take care of him but was it not enough that we kept visiting him?
We remember the grimy faced boy who had come to our grandpa’s house one summer saying that he had no home to go and pleading with us to give him shelter. He was willing to slave it out for just one square meal a day and a roof over his head. He told us he had to run away from his village where he had done his schooling as soon as riots started where his parents were killed. My grandfather, the man with a soft heart took him under his shelter in spite of vociferous protest from his children. He went to the extent of educating him. My grandfather always used to mention how well he was doing in his studies.
What did he do except cook for the old man and feed him thrice a day? He must have written letters on his behalf and read out to him for the last five years as his eyesight started failing then. Oh! He must have helped him with his bath and dressed him up particularly after our grandpa suffered a stroke two years back. We also remember vaguely that he was offered an employment in a company but, he gave up the opportunity as my grandfather suffered a stroke just two days before he was supposed to join. Yes of course, he must have given the old man company, taken him for his medical check-up when ever needed, administered his medicine and all
this under the pretext of gaining his confidence and here we are who cared for him so much and loved him so!
There was a commotion and we asked our lawyer if there was a legal recourse. We enquired him if our grandpa was in his full senses when he made the will. The lawyer assured us that he was consulted and he informed in no uncertain terms that the will is strictly as per the law and the young man is unaware of the contents of the will as requested by our grandfather. The family lawyer who also was a good pal of our grandfather seemed to be upset with our occasional formal visits to our grandfather. He also said that the will was made as soon as our grandfather recovered slightly from his stroke. He also told us the arguments between the young man and our grandfather. Our grandfather tried to pressurize the young man to take up the job and the young man for once was adamant and stood strong against the old man’s ire for he felt the old man needed his personal care.
We went in search of the scoundrel who managed to steal the old man’s affection, the upstart who was looking after our grandfather during his last few years. The scrawny young man was taken aback when we all went to meet him in a belligerent mood; his red-rimmed eyes spoke volumes. He was keen on keeping the old man’s rose garden spruce for he said-
“MY MASTER LOVED THEM SO MUCH”
And he burst out in tears.