‘That’s just piffle’ said Rosey. ‘You are talking nonsense’ she said. Then she slammed down the phone.
I was at her apartment where we were enjoying a drink and an Indian meal together. Our plates were balanced precariously on our laps; we couldn’t sit at the table like civilised human beings because it was in its usual state of chaos with teetering piles of books, screwed up papers, pens, brushes and paint pots competing for space with a fruit bowl containing a lonely brown banana. She was concentrating hard on transporting an overfull spoon of curry from the foil container to her plate when the phone suddenly rang. In truly Rosey style she jumped out her skin sending a dollop of Dansak into the floor. She swore, I complained and she told me not to be such a *?!>#% prude. Nothing new there! Anyway she made to the telephone just in time and I carried on eating as she listened intently to the individual who’d unreasonably interrupted our ‘Indian Banquet for Two’ (This week’s special at the supermarket)
I sort of flapped my hand to get her attention and tried to sign to her that her food was getting cold, but she just gave me a filthy look and carried on concentrating on her one sided conversation. Her only contribution was the odd ‘rubbish’, the occasional ‘baloney’ and the sporadic ‘twaddle’ or two. I frowned at her as if to ask what was going on but she just glared back making it perfectly clear it was none of my business.
Call over, she stomped back to her chair, growled and stabbed a lump of cold chapatti with her fork. ‘Piffle’ she shouted.
A couple of chardonnays later, after she’s calmed down, I ventured to ask her what the call was about. She told me it was nothing, I said I knew it wasn’t and she said yes it was. After a while she mumbled something about a call from India. I jokingly asked her if was from the factory that had knocked up our microwave ready feast and she told me not to be silly. It went quiet for a while. I could see her brain working. She kept frowning and tipping her head on one side and screwing up her nose. Clearly something about the call was bugging her.
‘It was one of those nuisance calls you hear about’ she said, ‘you know the ones, someone calls from overseas and tells you have won something or you’ve been left money’. I asked if she was so certain it was a hoax, why was it playing on her mind. She told me to forget it. Obviously though, she wasn’t forgetting it.
Slowly piffle was turning to epiphany! Her eyes widened and I could see something was dawning on her. She asked me if I remembered her telling me about her grandfather. He’d owned a plantation in India back in the days of British rule. He said the land had been fertile for a thousand years. He’d told her that one day it would be hers. She thought he was joking. He’d died several years ago and left her enough money to set herself up in her apartment – with a bit of help from her parents of course! But there was no mention of a plantation, and in any case she’d forgotten about it.
Slowly but surely she began to tell me what she’d heard on the phone. By now she was pretty sure it was genuine. It seems that the plantation had been left in trust to her by her grandfather and the Indian law firm handling it was unable to trace her when she became of age. It was now being rented to a tenant and the rent owed to her had been building up for years. Not a lot of money by our standards of course, but not to be sniffed at.
So, how about that? As well as her little allotment in Eastbourne, she has a slightly bigger one in Rajasthan! When she suggested we get an Indian that night, she must have had a premonition about the call that was to interrupt it!
She said that our next takeout should be a Chinese! She said that land in China was getting more valuable by the day!