My mom called me this morning to share a news. I generally don't receive calls at work but my mom has only important and emergency needs to call me. And everything is important for her. If I don't pick; the calls will be non stop; so I better pick.
Anyway, the news she shared was a person known to us passed away. I acknowledged and the call ended. Now this gentleman in question had lots to do with us, our family in an unconventional way. It goes back to the period when I was not older than 3 years. This man was an illiterate from a rural part of Tamilnadu, who migrated to Bangalore for a living. In few years, he was smart to understand the wealth the copper, iron, steel and such materials that comes out as industrial waste could bring. Bangalore's industrial zone was largest in South Asia then; there were 1000s of industries from small scale mom-pop shops to big ones that had presence in different cities and countries.
Those days, the industry did not know the value of scrap waste could generate; they were thrown away or given away at thrown away prices with the only intention of clearing off the waste. This waste is what is left off a finished product. So this guy who was transacting in small scale set up a shop in the heart of industrial area and with an initial capital of 60,000/- started funding small traders. This is how it worked. Petty traders didn't have capital; you give them the money; they buy the waste of streel, aluminum, ferrous and copper from the industries. Offload them at this man's godown, get a marginal profit. This guy stores them all and sends it back to foundry for a more profitable rate for recycling.
This guy over a period of time grew his business and wealth. Much as his smartness and shrewdness could be appreciated; he was at the end of the day; an illiterate with a petty mindset. We stayed beside his godown. He had some interesting expectations from us. He wanted my mom to stand up in respect at his arrival. He expected us to keep an eye on his shop and the security who was guarding it. He didn't trust anybody. He wore a Safari suit everyday; each day began with a ritual of Puja; his forehead adorned with a melee of sandalwood paste and vermillion. A TVS 50 gave way to an Ambassador. As his wealth grew; so were his pomp. His kids got themselves brand new motor cycles; malnourished due to poverty as kids; those early 20 something boys could never be called handsome. His daughters were no different.
Every year, Dusherra was celebrated with extravagance. Cold drinks(Torino), sweets, savories and fruits were distributed free to whoever walked along that road. Regular traders were given a sum of money called bonus. He went on to grow more - trucks, lands and other acquisitions. He has contributed to fights between my parents, in ways possible like provoking and finding faults. Though he was a respectable man for his position; he always had that small mind.
Today, when I heard the news, one incident came to my mind. I was too young to know the relevance of it but the incident stuck with me. He was a person who wouldn't trust anybody. Though he had a guard for his shop, he wanted a spy to counter guard and keep a check on the guard. As usual one day, as he was leaving for the day; he saw that my mom was sitting outside after her day's chores. I was playing beside. He called her and asked her to take care of his establishment. He also asked her about the security guard - if he did his job fine and if he was trustable. My mom promptly questioned "Do you trust your wife at the least". Was it in her mind to ask him such a question or was she waiting for such a chance, I do not know.
After that day, I noticed that he and my mom did not speak to each other anymore.