The rhythmic sound of the rickety old fan and an occasional cough from the occupants of the large high-ceiling room, were all that could be heard. An uncomfortable silence hung here, as the man in the white polyester shirt with a black coat started reading from an official-looking stamped document. ‘I hereby declare that after my death, the fifty seven acres of land will be distributed among my four sons in equal parts.’ The four so-called sons, shifted in the antique rosewood seats while a few sighs of relief escaped the lips of their wives. They seemed glad that their father had left them the property in a manner a sane man would. ‘The gold that belonged to me and my wife should be distributed amongst my two daughters’ the document continued to mention, except for these two items: The stone studded bracelet should be inherited by my grand-daughter Velala Ramadevi Nishikanta while the oval shaped emerald locket should go to my grand-son, Miryala Veerabhadra Baalaark.’
No one spoke at this point of time, the silence profound as it hung heavily in the room. ‘The silver and other articles of importance should be distributed among the servants, who have been loyal to me and stayed to serve me for over the past one year. My books are to be donated to the Central Library along with a sum of Rs. Twenty lakhs. I finally request that the book ‘Nirmalaya’ be handed over to the care of Nishad – my sole friend, confidante and attendant, as only you will know it’s worth to me. Look after it well.’
The silence in the room seemed to ebb out and nervous laughter could be heard from the family. Only two aunts seemed dissatisfied, ‘Why did tataji leave nothing for my son? How come only Nishikanta and Baalaark received special gifts?’ But uncle managed to console them saying ‘It’s two useless trinkets cast in silver. Be glad, the old man left us anything at all.’
One of the aunts ordered for tea and snacks for everyone present. It was most probably going to be their last family gathering. They had met today after twenty years, there was no reason why they’d come together again. Or was there?
This is the first part of a story in progress, a mystery thriller that revolves around the lives of members of a one-joint family. Of an old eccentric grandfather who left two trinkets, important parts of a puzzle for his two favourite grand-children, of loyalty from unexpected quarters and treachery from others. Of how despite the many riches, a family continues to suffer and how they end the fear that looms large over their heads.