In her post, here, Sam Smith recounted a strange encounter she had and asked us to speculate what it might mean. This is a summary of that encounter and my take on the reasons for it.
Coming towards me was a young man, possibly Indian, very handsome, with a perfectly trimmed beard and was impeccably well dressed. He had very smart black shiny shoes, pale cream and well-tailored trousers, which were quite high wasted, a crisp white shirt, but not your normal white shirt you’d wear with a suit, it look historical. He was also wearing a felt black full-rimmed hat, which I must say, totally suited him and his look. He was carrying a white, quite ornate, fairly large bird cage with two yellow canaries inside.
Arnold Peshwar rubbed a dusty scuff off his patent leather brogues and hoped the blond woman with the two over-attentive dogs would just hurry up and bugger off. He’d walked past the spot twice and each time she was there. The first time she was bagging something fecal and odiferous; the second she just stared like he was an alien.
Arnold checked the creases on his trousers. Still sharp enough to slice a mango as Papaji used to say. Bloody old sod. Always had a saying to accompany every action or event. He was like a walking book of clichés.
If only he hadn’t been as rich as a Sultan’s farts (another old saw). Oh no, that was the way with the Gods, wasn’t it? Create the most smug irritating, interfering old curmudgeon and shower him with wealth.
He held up the white cage and forced himself to coo at the canaries. He sensed the nosey dog woman regarding him with interest. Oh for pity sake, just go, can’t you? Don’t you know how awful this is?
But of course she didn’t. No one would guess why he was there, on the twelfth anniversary of Papaji’s death. Oh what a joyous day that was! For those glorious ten hours from the early call to tell him of the heart attack to the subsequent call from his sister telling him of the conniving monster’s Will he’d imagined the life of financial freedom that losing the Ogre Of the Purse Strings would mean: girls, cars, holidays and more girls.
But oh no, the last laugh was on him. The words of that Will were seared into his heart:
To my indolent and ineffectual Grandson Arnold I give him one quarter of all my wealth (so far so good) on condition that he spends ten weeks every year – the days to be of his choosing – dressed as a Punjabi Cossack while he walks his Aunts Jin and Jann. Each daily walk to be at least for one hour and is to culminate in his praying for their eternal joy at the place on which I departed this Earth for the next life.
As his sister had said when the clause was read, that wasn’t so bad as both Aunts were already ancient but, oh no, the condition continued:
And if either or both of his aunts may be so thoughtless as to die before the twentieth anniversary of the date of my death, he is to take two song birds, who will represent the beauty and harmony that his aunts brought to this world and pray to and for them.
The dog woman was clearly mad or some sort of crazed stalker because she wouldn’t stop staring. Right. Well, damn it she can watch and then she’ll think I’m mad and might just go.
Arnold found the slightly bare patch which was as near a guess as he had been able to make of where his grandfather had keeled over and died and put down the cage. He began the ritual chanting and throaty prayers, hurrying through the singing piece as he knew his voice sounded like a gerbil being minced when put under stress and finally raised his hands in the eulogy. The fur-rimmed hat always made his scalp sweaty and today the rivulets of salty water had run into his eyes making him blink.
It was, therefore, with some surprise that, when he wiped his eyes clean he found the woman had approached. Smiling, she said, “Aye, lovely. Jin and Jann would be so proud of you.” She patted his arm. “But you’re right. Your Grandpa was a right bugger.”
He watched her go. Was it his Indian heritage or the fact he was born and bred Yorkshire, but why was it that every Tom, Dick and Harriet knew all his business? He bent to pick up the cage and found the woman had hung the swollen poo sack on the cage. He looked at the sky and shook his fist.
‘One day, Papaji, one day so help me, I will get you.’
And to Arnold’s surprise the sky rumbled and a familiar voice intoned, “Suck it up, sunny-jin!”