The Will7 mins 12.2K 7 mins 12.2K
The Sinha Roy’s were proud of their Zamindar ancestry. They were famous for their pomp and show, dating back from the British Raj. They had a huge mansion, with sculptures lining both sides of the cobbled pathway, which led up to a portico, with thick columns supporting it. The rooms were spacious, and huge chandeliers hung from high ceilings. The columns in the massive hallway were also carved, and paintings of famous artists hung from the walls. All around the building was an unkempt garden, testifying to the financial inability of the modern generation to maintain the grandeur of the past. The hedges were not clipped and trimmed, the trees lacked luster, and weeds and undergrowth marred the beauty of the once manicured garden.
Till recently Senior Sinha Roy, his wife, with their five sons, and the family lived contentedly together in the mansion. But unfortunately death visited their happy home. Senior Sinha Roy, who was eighty-five years old, got an attack of bronchitis, and when he was removed to the hospital, he did not come back. From the hospital, they called the near relatives and only his wife was able to see him for the last time before he died. Unfortunately the sons had left for the office, and could not be with their father. He had drawn up a will in their absence, and the nurses and doctors had signed as witnesses. No one knew what his dying wishes were, as his wife was too agitated to remember anything. All she did was to bring the will home and lock it up in the vault-like Locker. It was her prerogative to handle the keys of the locker as the seniormost in the family. But the fact which was fascinating, and which amused everyone, was that she used to hide the keys every day in a different place so that no one could access it, but her.
Now it so happened that within a week, one morning, the family heard a loud wail, somebody crying. It went on for a few seconds then all was quiet. Everyone rushed to see what had happened. They thought the sound had come from their mother’s room. But she was not in her room. They saw the bathroom door locked. They tried to open it, but it was locked from inside. Had their mother tried to kill herself, not being able to endure the separation after fifty-five years of living together?! They tried their best to break open the door, but their efforts failed. At last on striking the knob with a hammer, the door gave way. They saw their mother on the floor in an unconscious state. Evidently she had slipped and fallen and had struck her head on the wall.
With the greatest difficulty, they lifted her up, and put her carefully on the bed. They called the Doctor, who checked her up, and prescribed some medicines for her. Slowly she regained consciousness, and looked at everyone around her bed, and smiled. Then they started asking her questions as to how the accident had happened, and how she had fallen. But she only smiled, as if she could not comprehend anything that they were saying. The Doctor gave his opinion, after further cross-examination that in all probability she had lost her memory, and could not recognize them. The loss of memory might be just a temporary phase, caused by mental trauma, due to two incidents; one after the other in quick succession. Firstly, her husband’s death had shattered her emotionally, and secondly, when she fell in the toilet, and became panic-stricken, as she could not get up herself, and the door was locked. This stress drained her of the remaining mental balance. But if her loss of memory was due to the injury, or blood clotting, the problem would need an in-depth investigation and might be permanent.
Immediately the Sinha Roy family reacted as if a bomb-shell had exploded. The first thing that came to the minds of the fairer- sex, was how would they do their marketing, for they needed money which was in the safe. The key for the locker was with their mother. The servant had to be sent to bring the daily requirements. The brothers were in the habit of giving their mother the money for the expenditure of the month when they got their salary. So when she, as the head of the family, gave out the required amount for marketing, provisions could be bought, and the wives would get down to preparing the lunch. On the other hand, the sons were impatiently waiting to see the will, which no one had seen, and were curious to know what their father had bequeathed to each one of them.
Very gently the eldest son asked his mother for the keys. First she gave him a blank look, and then creasing her eyebrows, she wanted to know which key he was talking about. He tried to make her understand, but he failed. Then they sent the five-year-old granddaughter to ask granny for a bun because she was very hungry. Their mother was so fond of her youngest grandchild that she would go to the ends of the earth to get her what she wanted. She would naturally have to get out the money to buy the bun. Intense love for her granddaughter would act as a trigger to bring back her memory. She looked at Pinky for a long time. Seeing a small child asking her for a bun, her heart melted, and she wrapped her arms around her, and then explained to her that she did not have any bun with her, and to ask the ladies for it.
Then her second son Alaap thought of something which would help her to remember. He informed her that the people around her, were her family, and he was one of her sons. Then he identified all her sons, one by one, and told her their names. Then he held her by the hand, and slowly guided her to the safe. He told her she had put his money in the safe, and he needed some money urgently. She tried to open the safe by just turning the knob. Then Alaap told her they needed the key to open, which she had kept somewhere. But she just shook her head helplessly and said she could not remember.
These tactics did not work. Mother used to hide the keys in such places that no one would even dream of. They could start searching for it. So they did. All the members, from the five-year-old, to the sixty-year-old, all started a hectic search. Some crawled under the table and lifted up the carpet, some looked inside the flower vase. They looked behind the pictures, hanging on the walls, even inside the shoes, whereas some took off the pillowcases to find if the mother had hidden the key in them. In the end, perspiring and fagged out, they gave up the search as a bad joke.
Then the eldest daughter-in-law, Sushmita, had another brain wave. She suggested that the family should all approach her, and pressurize her about the urgency of their demands, making her feel how much inconvenienced everyone was without the key. All of them marched up to her, hoping that it would bring back to her mind exactly where she had hidden the key. Still she could not remember. In desperation, coupled with exasperation, she shouted impatiently, “Do you think I am in a position to still look after this household? Your Dad had given me the key, when I came as a bride at the age of eighteen. I did my duty unfailingly, day in and day out, for the last sixty years. Don’t you think I need to rest now, that Dad has left? Why do you pester, and harass me when I can’t remember? I told you that I can’t recollect where I have hidden the key a number of times! I told your Dad when we came back from the crematorium, that my duties were over, and in a final gesture, gave him back the key which he had entrusted me with, and I put it in the pocket of his shirt, hanging in the wardrobe!”
The family looked at each other with a look of relief, and elation, as if they had found some buried treasure! But mother was unaware that she had dropped another bombshell, without her knowledge!