Drama Others



Drama Others



11 mins

“Madam! I have tried to call Mr. Rupani more than five times now. I am always getting a busy tone. His cheque presented in clearing needs to be returned. I am leaving now. Please excuse me. My son must be picked up from the school as our maid has suddenly fallen sick”. So saying, Namrata packed up her bags and left. 

Maya looked at the cheque lying on her table. Rupani was one of the best clients of the bank and his account was never overdrawn. The cheque favouring Lalitesh Kumar was drawn for Rs. 4500/-. At the back of the cheque, she noticed something written in pencil. It was quite faint, but on careful scrutiny, she could make out something like “February scholarship”. When she saw Rupani’s account, she noticed that every month there was a debit for the same amount. She asked the cashier if he had closed his counter, but when she was told that he could still take a receipt, she took out Rs. 5000/- from her purse, filled in the deposit slip and handed it over to him. Normally she would not have much cash with her, as she always settled accounts with her card, but it was just a coincidence that one of her friends who had borrowed some money from her had returned it and she had ready cash.

Once the credit was accounted for, Lalitesh’s cheque was honoured. Maya went about her other tasks and was about to leave when she saw Rupani pleading with the security guard to let him in. The guard, however was not willing to listen to anything, saying that the working hours were over. Maya got up from her seat and went up to the locked grill gate and asked the guard to let him in.

When Rupani entered the bank, he was panting and very upset. Maya made him sit and offered him a glass of water. He was obviously very upset and apologetic. He was hoping that his cheque had not bounced. He had seen the missed calls quite late as he was in a meeting. Maya first comforted him by saying that the cheque had been cleared. He said that his Accountant had not kept proper track of the transactions as a result of which this situation had arisen. When he came to know that Maya had deposited her money just so that this scholarship cheque could be passed, he was at a loss for words. He was more than grateful and wondered how such good Samaritans still existed in this world. He immediately took out a wad of currency notes from his pocket and handed it over to her. Maya, took Rs. 5000/- from it and returned the rest to him, though he wished that she should keep the whole packet as his token of appreciation of her kind deed.

After this incident, Rupani started to keep accounts himself and visited the Bank quite frequently. Maya would attend to him over a cup of coffee and soon they became quite friendly. After a year or so, when they got to know each other very well, he hesitatingly proposed to her. He had three grown up daughters who were in college. His wife had suffered a brain haemorrhage and had died suddenly, a couple of years back. Maya had been married earlier, but within a month, the couple separated as her husband, who was an alcoholic, refused to mend his ways. Since then, Maya had been living all alone. When Rupani proposed to her, she gave it a considerable thought and finally agreed.

Rupani had broached the subject to his daughters too, who welcomed a new mother in their midst. Very soon, both had a civil marriage and later hosted a simple reception to proclaim the wedding. Maya was quite happy in her new home and won the hearts of Amba, Ambika and Ambalika with her soft nature and her expertise in churning up dishes in a variety of cuisines. During their summer vacation, the daughters accompanied their parents on a cruise to the Lakshadweep islands and all of them happily enjoyed the well-deserved break.

At first, Maya continued to work in the bank, but she realised that she could utilise her experience to handle Rupani’s accounts and help him run the business more profitably. She would also have more time to devote to the family. She expressed her desire to Rupani and everyone was happy to implement her suggestion. In the meanwhile, Maya was on the lookout for suitable alliances for all the three girls and one by one, all the three were married into decent families. Maya maintained excellent relations with all of them and there was happiness all around.

Not having much work at home, Maya started attending office and soon took over its administration. Rupani wished to retire, but she insisted that he should be at the helm of affairs along with her as long as he could. Maya’s hard work and sincerity, coupled with Rupani’s business acumen, won for them the most coveted national award for the year’s best business enterprise. 

The State’s Industries Association hosted a dinner in their honour and the whole family was invited to it. It was a joyous occasion as there were three more new members of the third generation in the family. During the Meet, the sons-in-law had the opportunity to meet and discuss their projects with reputed businessmen. It was there that the spouses of Amba and Ambalika who were both innovating with Artificial Intelligence could strike a deal with a company which had partners in the Silicon Valley. This necessitated both families to leave for the US.

Rupani was very happy that his children would surely make it big very soon. Ambalika, the youngest, was the only one left behind, but her siblings had assured her that once they settled down, they would try and work out something for Ambalika too. He hoped that the day would not be far off and that Ambalika too would be like her sisters. 

Ambalika’s nature, of late, had undergone a drastic change. This worried Maya no end. She tried to get to the bottom of it, but Ambalika would not let her. Maya had noticed the change in Ambalika’s demeanour ever since her aunt-in-law came to live with them. She had met the lady during Ambalika’s wedding and found her to be greedy and selfish. Her sons were reluctant to let her stay with them after they lost their father. She then played on the emotions of her brother and shifted with him. Ambalika’s father-in-law was very kind-hearted and straight forward and failed to see through his scheming sister. Ambalika was easy prey as the aunt lost no opportunity to fan jealousy in her. She started to make her believe that Maya favoured Amba and Ambika and was not interested in Ambalika’s welfare.

Maya brought this to the notice of Rupani and suggested that they should take some steps to make Ambalika feel at ease and self-dependent. She felt that if Ambalika was given a lion’s share of their property, she may turn a new leaf. She was presently unhappy that her sisters were well off while she was not. Both discussed the issue in great detail and decided to work out a viable solution.    

Maya having been a good administrator, had given priority attention to setting up a second line of defence so that in the absence of Rupani and herself, the business would not suffer. Maya suggested to Rupani that they could relax by taking a few days off from work and spend some time to draw up their will. Rupani agreed instantly as he found attending office monotonous.

The next day, Maya finished her household work very early and sat with her laptop with Rupani. They first listed out all their movable and immovable assets, which came to about eight and a half crore rupees. Maya looked at her watch and then made a conference call to Amba and Ambika. This would be the right time to talk to them before they went to bed. When both sisters came online, Maya told them that Rupani and she were drawing up their will and wished to consult them before they did anything.

Both Amba and Ambika were receptive to the suggestion that Ambalika may be given a larger share to improve her status as well as to keep her in good humour. Though they were trying their best to find out a suitable opening for her, they could not succeed right away and so they were happy to let her have a larger share. In fact, they even suggested that they were willing to give her their share too!

Maya was very happy. Till she entered the household, all the three sisters thought only of themselves. They never expected that Maya would buy them their wedding jewellery with all her earnings from the Bank. In fact, even if their mother had been alive, they felt that she would not have been as self-less as Maya. On her part, Maya was satisfied seeing them joyful. When they all left for their sasural, they wept as they had to leave Maya, more than their own father.

Brushing off her reverie, Maya and Rupani got down to brass tacks. The palatial house which they lived in, 40% of the shares of their company and other land and property, they willed to Ambalika. Amba and Ambika would share the remaining 60% of the company’s shares. Rupani had laid a condition that though the property would be transferred in Ambalika’s name, all members of the family had the right to reside in the house as long as they lived. Their Office Manager and his assistant were called to witness the will.

That night, they stayed awake till late in the night, feeling a sense of relief that they had distributed their wealth to the satisfaction of the children. Rupani, however felt that he should have provided for Maya too in the will, but Maya brushed it aside saying that she knew her daughters well and that they would always take care of her. In a short while, Rupani started to snore and Maya kept tossing and turning as sleep evaded her.

It was well past midnight when Maya had just started to sleep when she felt Rupani’s hand on hers. He was trying to say something, but words would not emerge. She immediately switched on the light and saw to her consternation that his limbs were limp and the corner of his mouth had drooped. She called out to the domestic help to wake up the doctor in their building to attend to this emergency. She splashed some water on his face but there was no response. The doctor arrived, only to confirm that he had suffered a paralytic stroke and succumbed to a massive cardiac arrest soon after.

Maya was shaken. Just a few hours back, they were happily discussing things and now his voice was stilled forever. She immediately contacted all the three daughters and asked them to come at once. Maya then got things organised, calling for the freezer box as the two daughters and family could arrive only a couple of days later. After daybreak, she sent out messages to all their relatives and friends. The office staff was at hand to arrange for the last rites once everyone arrived.

Ambalika was the first to arrive, and with her came the aunt-in-law. While everyone first paid their respects to the departed, she was seen hopping from one room to another evaluating the worth of the house! Maya noticed it but did not think it prudent to talk to her. By the weekend, the other daughters arrived, after which the last rites were performed. After the Chauth, the guests started to leave. Amba and Ambika too had to leave the next day. In the evening, in the presence of the family members, Maya read out the will executed by Rupani just a few hours before he breathed his last.

Needless to mention, the aunt under reference was the first to be present. She took up a strategic position, where she could hear everything clearly. She made Ambalika sit next to her so that she could keep prodding her if necessary. To everyone, except Ambalika and the aunt, the contents were not surprising. Both however, could not believe their ears and were overjoyed.

At dawn, the two families prepared to leave for the airport as their flight was at noon. As soon as the taxis had left, Ambalika accosted Maya. “Hmm., now pack up your things and vacate the bedroom. Hereafter, this house belongs to me as you yourself had read out Papa’s will. The condition in the will is that all of you can continue to stay in the house – it is not specified as to ‘where’ in the house. Since I have asked the servant to leave for her home by the afternoon, you can stay there. You have half an hour to pack up.” So saying, she went away, followed religiously by the aunt.

For the first time Maya felt humiliated. She did not wish to occupy the servants’ quarters, but at the same time, there was no other option. She had not kept any of her savings or termination benefits with her. With a heavy heart, she picked up the barest minimum things and went to occupy the servants’ quarters.

It did not take her long to keep Rupani’s portrait, light a lamp and burn incense. While she was arranging her things in the wardrobe, a couple of taxis drew up outside. Maya did not have the energy to get up. ‘Let Ambalika open the door’, she thought to herself and went about her work. The next moment she saw Amba and Ambika enter the room with tears in their eyes. “Mamma! This is not where you belong. Come out immediately”. They dragged her out and into the house. 

Ambalika had a lot of questions to answer. Her siblings then told her that while she could enjoy all the material wealth, they would be taking away the true wealth of their family with them. While on the way to the airport, their counterparts had called them to say that since they were in India, they might as well spend a few more days and scout for an administrative head to look after their office. “Now that we have seen how you have treated Mamma, just a few minutes after we left, we will not leave her and go. Our hunt for an Administrative Head ends here. Mamma will henceforth remain with us for all time to come”, they said.

Maya looked up gratefully and lovingly at the two lovely daughters and hugged them tight.  

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