Friday, August 26, 2011

The Ring

The Ring


by Sajit M. Mathews

‘Prying eyes! I’ve got them, and I’m proud to have my pair. So many occasions, places and people... Yet I

was never caught- all because of these eyes.’

Savio looked proudly into the mirror before deciding to take off. As he passed his living room to the

sitting room through dining hall, he switched off lights one by one. Every light that faded away showed

beautifully arranged rooms with decorated walls and showcases. He chuckled as he passed the large

wall calendar that said, ‘February 13 Saturday’. ‘Another thrilling day,’ thought he.

‘Today I will have a diamond ring to decorate this shelf.’ As he closed the front door, his thoughts quickly

went through the busy week that went by- Selecting a shop, examining the object of desire, finding

resources, etc. This particular ring is going to be a big catch, thought Savio.

Always, he got what he wanted. He believes that the world is for everyone. Poverty according to him is

not a necessity, but lack of enough will. He never hesitated to take what he liked or wanted. He wouldn’t

call it theft. For him, it is an act of pride and social justice. Those who don’t have the means will have to

find their means, says Savio. ‘After all, I would not make anyone poor; I take only from the rich.’

* * * * * * * * *

With steady, calculated steps he walked to a large jewelry shop in the busiest square of the city. As he

had foreseen, there were a lot of customers. ‘Tomorrow being Valentine’s Day, there would be a lot of

lovers around,’ he smiled to himself.

He looked elegant in his dark blue trousers and light blue shirt. His well gelled hair shone in the flicker of

city lights. A gentleman indeed! As he entered the compound of the shop, he reminded himself of his

own principles. ‘Be decent, quick and precise. No loitering around.’ If you want to filch anything, all you

need is speed and confidence. A moment of dilly dallying will get you caught. Years of experience told

him to smile and look into the eyes of whoever talks to you.

‘May I help you sir?’ asked a sweet and charming young girl in black formal suit. ‘Great! This must be the

sales girl who will attend to my needs this evening,’ thought Savio. He pointed to the diamond counter

nearby, smiling at her.

She guided him to the counter. As she turned, he noticed that the girl was very beautiful and well

mannered. He liked the way she tied her hair into a pretty big bun with lot of white pearls pinned on it.

‘I want a diamond ring, uh… almost similar to this if possible,’ said Savio, showing the blue diamond ring

on his finger. The girls looked at the ring, smiled and said. ‘This is beautiful, sir. Kindly take a seat sir. I

will be back in a moment. We have a very similar piece.’ ‘I know there is,’ Savio giggled within as she

turned around to probe the boxes beneath the display shelves.

He had come a month back, disguised as an old man to the same counter and found the ring he wanted.

His hidden button camera had clicked a few snaps of that ring before he left without a purchase. It was

worth Rs. 1600,000. He spent at least a full month in crafting this fake blue diamond ring. Finally he was

satisfied with his masterpiece a week ago, before planning this operation ‘blue diamond’-as he called it.

He felt the smooth contours of the ring on his finger and felt proud of his own ingenious ways.

In a moment, the pretty young girl came up with a smile and a red velvet box. ‘Kindly have a look sir,’

said she while setting the box on the counter. She opened the box and was about to take the ring out.

‘Shh…,’ hissed Savio with slightly raised hands, ‘may I?’ Saying this, he took the shining blue diamond

ring out of the box and admired it. ‘Ah… this is lovely. Much the same as I wanted.’ His expressions were

so refined and delicate.

The girl was pleased to see her customer slowly deciding to purchase the item. There was a moment of

unspeakable gladness within her. If this purchase happens, it will add another Rs. 500 to my meager pay.

She remembered her little daughter’s face. ‘If only I could give her a better life and a few more smiles…

What else can a single mother like me desire for her child?’ She let out a silent sigh.

‘I will take this. How much will this be?’ The girl shuddered as she woke up from her thoughts. Savio was

holding the ring up, smiling. ‘Rs. 1600,000, sir. You will get 2% reduction on payment.’

There was a slight carefully constructed uncomfortable feeling on his face. ‘Oh… I’m so embarrassed to

say this… I’m afraid I would run short of that amount on my card. I will have to get money from my

residence,’ he paused. The smile on her face dimmed for a second. ‘So this is not going to happen?’

‘But miss, if possible, can this piece be reserved for me, so that I can come and pick it up tomorrow

morning? This is my card,’ said Savio extending his business card.

For a moment she looked at the ring in the box. The next moment, as she was about to take the card,

she noticed the ring on his finger- exactly the same as is in the box! She shuddered. Her instincts

pumped adrenalin into all her blood vessels. ‘What if there was a conscious or unconscious mix up?’ She

looked at the man, careful not to betray her panic. Savio was looking straight into her eyes without a

flicker.

Professionalism required her to move away from the customer and inform the management about her

doubts. But the man’s eyes said there was nothing to panic. She was at a loss. If her doubts were not

true, she would be penalized for that. Losing this job was out of the question. Her child needed

nutritious food, and she needed security. But now, she had to decide in a moment. Either report her

doubts or keep quiet and take a risk. ‘What if I am wrong? Rich customers would never forgive being

doubted. What would I do?’ She didn’t know what to do.

‘Miss, thank you so much. See you tomorrow.’

‘Thank you so much sir. Could you wait for a moment, while I complete these formalities?’

‘I’m afraid I don’t have that time,’ said Savio. He didn’t lose his smile. He took his card from the counter,

wrote something on it and slipped it to her.

Trembling, she looked at the card. She was aware of the dozens of CCTV cameras probably focusing their

spying eyes on them both. She tried her best not to show any signs of panic or hesitation on face. The

card had a few words on it. Reading it, she felt a chill running down her spine. An invitation? A

conspiracy? An offer to be an accomplice? The few figures on the card stared back at her. She was

frozen and couldn’t move. The card said, “50-50, 4pm, Valentines, Vintage Mall”.

Savio observed the girl while keeping his pen back into his pocket. He was confident. He had read from

her eyes that she was poor and is groping in darkness to make a living. He had seen sparkles in her eyes

earlier, while examining the ring. She needed money.

He didn’t want to make this offer, but was forced to, because he saw shadows of doubt in her yes. That

was another principle of his- ‘if the game is at a loss, make friends out of your threats’. Better be free

and have a friend, than be selfish in prison!

He stood up, extending his hand to her. She didn’t know what to do. The ring shined on his finger and its

glistening sparkles shouted to her, ‘can’t you see it’s a theft? Act now or never’. She mechanically

offered hers. He turned and left. Before he did so, he gave her a smile.

Savio understood he had succeeded. This is the end of the operation ‘blue diamond’. He once again felt

proud of himself. ‘I am perfect at my job.’

‘Excuse me sir…’ someone called from behind. Savio turned slowly. As he turned, he quickly thought to

himself, ‘did I make any mistake anywhere? Is it the end of all?’ He saw a security guard approaching

him. This was quite unexpected. He was extra careful not to betray himself. How did this happen? He

could see the sales girl re-arranging the counter calmly. Did she tip me?

‘Sir, you left your bag’ said the guard pointing to the bag on the floor near the counter. ‘I knew it’ said

Savio to himself as he thanked him and took his bag. As he turned to walk away, he quietly stole a look

at the sales girl. Her face looked tense behind the façade of a smile.

* * * * * * * * *

The girl slipped Savio’s business card into her coat pocket while keeping the jewelry back into the

counter. She couldn’t believe what she just did! She helped a thief get away with a precious stone worth

a million and a half! The thought struck her like a thunderbolt. How could I do this? ‘My child deserves

better things.’ Is that the reason? Is that a reason enough to do such a crime?

Then came another customer. She smiled and guided the purchase.

* * * * * * * * *

‘50-50, 4pm, Valentines, Vintage Mall.’ A few words that changed my life, thought the girl. The small

room in which she sat, had only a small window, but one side was grilled from top to bottom. There

were many similar cells in that prison. She sat on the floor. A moment of indecisive silence- the moment

when that man conquered my confidence. She was sad for her little daughter who was now in the

prison crèche. Pain dug into her heart as she remembered that Valentine’s Day, 4 years ago.

As per the words on the card, she had gone to Vintage Mall on Valentine’s Day at 4 pm. Seeing no one

coming for her, she left at 8 pm with a heavy heart. The next day being Monday, she decided to confess

this to the management. Sooner or later they will come to know and I will be caught. Now she realized

the gravity of the mistake she had done. If caught she would be in prison. Her child would’ve none. ‘I

helped a stranger to steal an expensive piece of jewelry.’ She couldn’t settle with the truth. She decided

to confess the truth to the shop manager, no matter what happened. ‘Surrender is the only choice left

for me.’ She realized. Better confess than waiting to be caught.

First thing in the morning, she told the manager what happened and handed him the card. He was

furious. He called the police. They arrested her. Later she came to know that the address on the card

was fake. She was broke. She was sent to prison for 4 years after a grueling 3 month long court

procedure. Having no one to care for the child, it was taken to the prison crèche.

4 years have passed since then. Tomorrow is the release date. ‘The day I was looking for. From now, I

can be with my child.’ She didn’t have anger towards that man. Because she knew it was her fault. But

future was a void for her. She would have to begin from scratch – a job, a house, money for the kid’s

education, etc… She felt dizzy.

Early next morning, she was called to the warden’s room. Her belongings and her earnings in prison

were given to her. ‘Now you are free. Be more prudent from today. I have arranged for the release of

your child. Go and get her,’ said the warden handing her, the release letter.

She rushed to the crèche to claim her child. After a long wait, she got her back. Tears flowed out of her

eyes as they hugged.

A few moments later, she found herself standing on the main road, with the sleeping kid on her

shoulders and a bag in hand. The whole world is open for her. But where to go?

“Miss, if you are not too angry with me…”

She turned to see who spoke. She couldn’t believe her eyes. It was that same man who tricked her into

prison. He was looking straight into her eyes.

She felt angry. But suddenly she realized the futility of anger. She smiled back at him and said, ‘no sir, I

am not angry at you, I must be angry at myself. Look at what I have done to my daughter and myself.’

Her eyes were full. She couldn’t get words to speak.

There was a moment of silence between them. She saw movements of remorse in his eyes. ‘Miss it was

my fault. But it was not my intention to do this to you. While I was coming to meet you that Valentine’s

Day, I had an accident. I am so sorry miss…’

It was then that she looked at him properly. He was standing on a pair of crutches. One leg of his

trousers was hanging loose. With a hush, she stepped back in horror.

‘When I got well, I didn’t have a leg. But I didn’t lose my heart. When I heard of what happened to you, I

was so upset that I wanted to kill myself. But I couldn’t even do that!’ He turned his face away in pain.

Tears rolled down his cheeks.

‘I’m so sorry miss. I know you would find it difficult, but kindly accept this little gift from me. This is not

to compensate what you lost. But a little gift from me. Probably the last I would ever make.’

Saying this, he handed a pretty big bag to her. She took the bag with tears in her eyes. She peeped into

the bag. On top, there was a small jewelry box. She took it out and opened. To her amazement, it was

the same blue diamond ring he stole 4 years ago. Beneath the box, she could see stacks of currency

notes.

She didn’t want any of it. She would be happier without all these. A job is not that difficult to find. She

looked up to deny the gift and give it back. But he was gone. She could only see an auto rickshaw

speeding away and disappearing at the turn.

She kept looking at the empty road, long after he was gone. A drop of tear formed in her eyes. Sun’s

rays hit the drop and reflected- much the same as on the blue diamond ring in her hand.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Low Battery


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