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December 8, 2018

It was a Sunday and I was at the cemetery again to offer my floral tribute.

With moistened eyes I looked at the headstone inscription, which read:

Lily DeCruze

May 17, 1959 – June 20, 2018

Your memory lives on!

Around four years back…

Still single, I was employed with a pharmaceutical company, and had just been transferred to their manufacturing unit at Verna, Goa. Commuting for a week to and fro Panjim - where I was officially lodged at Hotel Fidalgo - was not a real problem, especially by the company-provided transportation. Nevertheless, I had to find out an affordable place soon; and its being close to the workplace was another criterion.

That day was a Saturday; I was quite late when I left my office for the day and decided to have my weekend-dinner on the way. It was some nondescript place called Alfred Restobar. However, a small and beautiful villa at the back caught my attention. The place was surrounded with lush greenery on all sides, which looked even more brilliant after the evening-rain. While I was enjoying my pre-dinner drinks, I casually asked the boy serving upon me if there was any good single room available for rent in the vicinity.

Moments later, there was a very graceful lady at my table, who scanned me from top to bottom, smiled and asked me if I was interested in a paying guest-accommodation. I could not have asked for anything better and happily conveyed my acceptance. She just nodded and disappeared somewhere.

Thinking about her I finished my dinner – the seafood they served was very delicious, much better than what I had expected. The same waiter approached me and asked if I needed anything else. Saying no, I just thanked him for everything and asked him to get my bill. Five minutes later he was back with the bill and a message. Lily had asked for me in the villa at the back. When I questioned on who Lily was, I was told that it was the same lady who had met me a while ago. He made it a point to add that she was the owner of that place.

I got up and stubbed my cigarette before being escorted through a narrow track at one side, till the gate of the villa. Asking me to wait, the waiter went in, came back immediately and asked me to go inside.

Where I entered was a tastefully decorated living room. And the entire house looked much more beautiful from within. Sitting on one of the sofa chairs, she looked at me affectionately and asked me to take a seat.

I am alone and mostly stay in the master bedroom on the ground floor.” Indicating at the staircase near the dining area, she continued, “There are three bedrooms on the first floor. As I cannot climb up and down the stairs due to my knee pain, the first floor is rarely used.”

I kept listening to her patiently.

I never wanted to let out my ancestral house but there is something in you… If Alfred had not died in a car accident just before our wedding, we would have had a son like you.” She could not speak further.

My own parents had died in an air-crash while I was still in school.

The very next day, I had shifted there with my bag and baggage. Like my own mother, she happily took care of all my needs. As regards rent, to my surprise, she never accepted any money from me.

With age, her health deteriorated. There was a lot of physical change in her except the charming smile that she always maintained. On my part, like a loving son, I always used to take her to the hospital for all her check-ups and treatment.

One fateful morning, she did not get up when I woke her up for bed tea.

A couple of days later, there was a lawyer from a firm called ‘Walter and Co.’ at the villa to pronounce that Lily had bequeathed all her property to me. I had rather inherited a sweet fragrance!

I placed the lilies I had brought on the grave, and left…



Mohanjeet Kukreja (eMKay) is a Pharma professional, holding a master's degree (M. Pharm) from University of Delhi; and nurtures writing as a passion. He loves to write poetry and stories about various aspects of life.

Books to his credit:

"Abhivyakti...Ek Kavya Sankalan": a wonderful, maiden collection of poetry

"Mangadhant" (Hindi Short Stories): A collection of stories

Within and Around” (Short Stories): A concoction of twenty-one beautiful stories

Four Pillars Five Stories” (Classic Short Stories): This collection is an English translation of five classic Hindi stories

"Khayalaat - Chand Ghazlein": A beautiful collection, of fifty-one meaningful ghazals


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