The girl sat on the floor, a heap of various objects before her. She was scarcely more than a child, and she hugged a brown and white puppy and looked at Kubera with wide, frightened eyes, until he gestured and she smiled.
"Kubera," said Yama.
"Koo-bra," said the girl.
"She is my daughter," said Yama. "Her name is Murga."
"I never knew you had a daughter."
"She is retarded. She suffered some brain damage."
"Congenital, or transfer effect?" asked Kubera.
"She is my daughter," repeated Yama, "Murga."
"Yes," said Kubera.
Yama dropped to his knees at her side and picked up a block.
"Block," he said.
"Block," said the girl.
He held up a spoon. "Spoon," he said.
"Spoon," said the girl.
He picked up a ball and held it before her. "Ball," he said.
"Ball," said the girl.
He picked up the block and held it before her again. "Ball," she repeated.
Yama dropped it.
"Help me, Kubera," he said.
"I will, Yama. If there is a way, we will find it."
He sat down beside him and raised his hands. The spoon came alive with spoon-ness and the ball with ball-ness and the block with block-ness, and the girl laughed. Even the puppy seemed to study the objects.
"The Lokapalas are never defeated," said Kubera, and the girl picked up the block and stared at it for a long time before she named it.
The Context: Yama's love Kali (Brahma) was mortally wounded in battle. Yama managed to transfer her consciousness into another body, but she suffered some brain damage as a result. Yama's friend and fellow Lokapala (world guardian) Kubera came looking for him and offered his aid.
Why I like it: Zelazny wrote a lot of characters over his career, but few of them are kind. Kubera is a very decent man, and I love the passage, because I love how it illustrates his compassion.