The young man was talking animatedly. He raised his right arm to point something out to me when Ganga walked in right behind him with her mop, its scraggly head up. His arm could have slashed her face.
“Ayyo, Old Lady!" Vinayagam yelled out to the maid. "Next time, warn me when you’re walking up behind me! I could have killed you, see? And then, if you go, I’d have to call your son to take care of your cremation and we’d have to arrange for this and that.”
Unfazed, Ganga grinned, baring the jagged edges of her betel-stained teeth. “Sweetheart, don’t fret. Just call my son and take him to State Bank of Mysore where I’ve stashed away money for my cremation expenses.”
I told Ganga to give me her hand. I held it in mine for a few minutes. Cackling, Ganga said she never ever wants to be indebted to any of her children when she leaves the world. She waved five fingers in the air. “I’ve left 50, 000 Rupees for when I go.”
From right across the room, Vinayagam, who can never appreciate this most empowered woman because she has the balls and the bearing to cuss him right back, told her that it wasn’t enough. “Old Woman, money alone is pointless. You have to tell the bank that your son must have access to it.”
Then, the two of them—a young man who’s savvy about banks and paperwork, and an old woman who cannot read or write—began hashing out the nitty-gritty about notaries and banks and stamp papers, in a most civil fashion, and for the first time in a long time. There I sat, in the meanwhile, watching, listening to their debate, reflecting on how the subject of Ganga’s final journey out of this world seemed to give the late Daddykins’ man Friday an unusually high degree of satisfaction.