It was raining outside, but the sounds in Jaya’s head drowned out everything else, to the point that she was barely aware of her surroundings. Her fingers absent mindedly plucked at the frayed embroidery on the table cloth.
There was a dull ache in her heart as she replayed her son’s words on the phone.
“Mom, we can’t have you stay with us…you know we are struggling to make ends meet”, he’d said.
The words had stung, and how. She had always believed that their simple but happy family life would last forever, but her husband’s death had kind of pulled the carpet from under her feet. She had come to realize that their finances were in very bad shape and that there was very little left as savings. There was the monthly pension, of course!
The hopes she had pinned on her only son came to naught. Now, she planned to sell all the furniture and electrical appliances, and move to a home for Senior Citizens.
She sighed as she moved around the house reviewing what could be sold. The next two weeks flew by…all the furniture and appliances were sold.
Her son came to help her move into the Home. There was a wall between the mother and son, love frozen into a sudden strangeness and unfamiliarity.
Jaya soon aettled down in the Home. She passed her time reading, doing her shopping and doing yoga.
One afternoon, just after lunch, she got a call on her mobile.
“Hello. Is this Ms.Jaya Kumar?” asked a voice.
“Yes, this is she. Who’s calling?” asked Jaya.
“My name is Kevin Williams. I need to meet you regarding a very important matter concerning the furniture you just sold to ‘Woods n Carves’. I work there and need to talk to you”, the voice said.
Her curiosity piqued, she agreed to meet him at a local coffee shop later in the day.
As she sat at the cafe, she saw a short man, with a paunch, walking in. He looked around and walked to her table.
“Mrs.Kumar?” he asked.
She nodded and smiled.
They placed their order and she looked at him enquiringly.
“Mrs.Kumar, this is a very delicate matter and I hope you will keep it confidential”, he started.
“Hmmmm, you know the small dining table set you sold to us? I am incharge of the Repurposing Department, and all items that the shop buys comes under my purview. Before joining this organization, I was an antiques dealer. The table you sold is a very special piece, that can be traced back to the Mysore Royal Family. It is worth a few hundred thousand dollars at least.”
Jaya’s eyes nearly popped out. This seemed too good to be true.
The man continued, “I have thought of a way to help you. If you can buy back the furniture from us, I can help you find a good buyer for the antique piece and you should get a good price for it.”
Jaya pondered. Could she trust this man? Who was he anyway? Was he a fraud? Was he trying to make quick money, by getting her to buy back the furniture with a fake story?
Kevin watched the play of emotions on her face.
He said, “I know how this may appear to you, but believe me, you are sitting on a golden egg here and it is only fair that you reap the benefits. As for me, here’s my card, you can run a check on me.”
She flushed as she realized that he knew what she was thinking.
“Why don’t I talk to my son and call you in a few days?” she said.
That evening she called her son and told him about what had happened. His voice sounded animated and as he spoke, he ran a quick search on Google for Kevin Williams. His credentials were impeccable. There were many white papers on antique furniture to his credit.
“Mom, fix up a meeting with Kevin for this weekend. I will meet him with you”, said her son.
On Saturday, they met at the same coffee shop.
“I am glad you have considered my suggestion, so what I will do is tell my management that the owner wants to buy it back, shouldn’t be too much of a problem. They may ask for a 5% increase in the buyback price”, Kevin said.
Jaya and her son quickly conferred and agreed.
Jaya said, “Mr.Williams, you have been very kind, we would like to repay your kindness.”
Kevin said, “Ah..that, I will come to that in a minute. Now that you have agreed, I want to tell you that there are two potential buyers and the price range is between 800,000 to 1,000,000.”
Jaya and her son let out loud gasps.
Kevin continued, “As for me, I would like 40% of the total.”
Jaya and her son took some time to talk through this. They rationalized that 60% itself was great as opposed to nothing.
Very soon the agreement was signed. Her son put up the money to buyback the piece and the antique was sold.
Jaya’s bank account was swollen with money. She walked with more confidence, and a small smile on her face.
Life was more pleasurable now that she had this nest egg. She decided to continue staying at the Home.
A few days later her son and daughter-in-law called on her at the Home. They brought lots of snacks and gifts for her.
Her son said, “Mom, why don’t you move in with us? Things are looking better for us, so we would be thrilled to have you back with us.”
Jaya said, “You are my son and I can read you like a book; that money will come to you only after my death, and I plan to travel to a few places that I have dreamt about. I woke up to reality the day I moved here.”