A loving husband gifts his wife a ring. It was one of the most beautiful rings that she had seen. But, things changed after she wore it. But, when she took off the ring, her husband was his old, loving self. Find out, with the protagonist the true story of the ring. An enigmatic story by Madhumita exclusively for Different Truths.
Everything was fine till he bought me the ring.
We were married for three years and made a reasonably made for each other couple, as friends said. True, we had our little tiffs now and then but we did share a great bond too. Ours was a love marriage turned a social one with total approval from both sets of parents. And that made life easy and beautiful. My husband had his ego though, not accepting any gift from either my parents or his by way trousseau or blessings.
He had hired a small apartment near my university where I was a research scholar in Anthropology. We loved visiting the auction houses on Russell Street that sold antique furniture and sundry odd exotic items. We furnished our house with one item at a time, bought mainly from these shops over this period of three married years. A framed mirror and a set of four arm chairs of mahogany particularly were the neighbours’ envy and our pride.
My husband brought me a ring one day. It was beautiful, with a huge opal framed by little diamonds. I gasped at its sheer beauty.
‘Where did you get this from? And where is the writing desk that you had gone to pick up from the auction house? You mean to say…’
‘I cancelled the booking of the desk. I got this instead. I’ll have to pay some more but it’s so beautiful I couldn’t resist buying it.’
‘You are out of your mind. I don’t need a diamond ring. I need the desk. I feel so awkward working on the bed.’
‘I am sorry. I wanted to but something within me told me to buy this ring. I was kind of compelled. Aren’t you happy though? Don’t you like it?’
Of course I liked it. It was beautiful. But something about the ring did not feel right. But I did not want to hurt my husband so I put out my left hand pointing the ring finger towards him and said, ‘Put it on. I love it!’
Thrice he tried to slip the ring onto my finger and thrice it fell on the floor.
Things were never the same since that day. I did not notice for about a week. I wore the ring all the time except when I went to take a shower or when I worked at the kitchen. I did not wish to mar its shine. I realized after about a week that my husband behaved abnormally when I had the ring on my finger. He looked at me yet he did not. He hardly spoke to me. He stayed away from home as late as was possible and on returning, would sit at the dining table, grab a quick bite and would go to sleep. He had shifted to the guest room.
I sulked, I wept and I fought with him. And he would not reply, nor react. And then one day it struck me that the ring was probably the root cause of the indifference, the mood swings of my husband and my misery and woe. I remembered that the ring had fallen on the floor thrice, when he had tried slipping it onto my finger. I took off the ring and kept it stashed away in a drawer in the almirah.
He was his former cheerful loving self again. Feeling brave, I asked him why he had been keeping aloof and why he had stopped sleeping in the bedroom with me.
“I am so sorry. I should have told you. I couldn’t sleep. I felt as if there was someone else sleeping beside me. It was uncomfortable. I felt cold. I was afraid.”
He embraced me in a tight hug and held my hand. And then he saw my bare ring finger.
“Why aren’t you wearing the ring? You don’t like it, I know.”
A chill ran down my spine.
“I sprained my wrist yesterday and it is aching. So I took it off. I’ll wear it when my hand feels better.” I hurriedly made up a story to avoid having to bring out the ring. I did not wish to wear it ever again.
“Forget the ring. Come closer. Let’s stay up all night. Us, together.”
And we spent a most memorable night of love, that night.
Next day I went to the jewelers near my husband’s parents’ house. It was near the auction shops, a very old and renowned jewellery shop, one my parents-in- law patronised, since they were married. A shop my father-in- law’s parents had frequented, to buy and sell ornaments. I didn’t dare go to any ordinary shop with the antique exotic looking ring which I was sure was priceless.
The elderly shop owner did not know me. But after some name dropping, he recognised and offered me a sofa to sit on, a grand antique armchair into which I almost disappeared and served me tea in a fine bone china teacup and saucer. I told him the reason for my visit and brought out the ring nestled in its original crimson, now faded, velvet box. The gentleman took a long look at the ring and took it away to a table that housed several odd-looking instruments, like a small brass measuring scale, a monocle kind of lens, some pieces of shiny black stone and other sundry objects I knew not the use of. He inspected the ring for a good ten minutes. Looked into the inside of the ring and inspected the stones with the little monocle-looking magnifying glass.
Without saying a word, he disappeared into a room at the far end of the store.
He emerged a good thirty minutes later.
“This ring has a story. It was sold to me several years back. And yes, I’ll buy it. It is best you get rid of it.” He took another long look at the ring, shut the lid of the box and kept it away in a big steel cupboard. He shut the cupboard with great force. The door made a loud bang.
“She lived here, nearby, in a mansion on Russell Street. The building was there till a couple of years ago. It has been demolished and a tall tower has now been erected there.” The store-owner began speaking in a faraway voice.
“She was a sad woman. Very beautiful and educated too. Had a swine of a husband who did nothing other than spending his father’s money on the races and the baijis. She came to my store one day and sold off all her ornaments. She gave the money to her two sisters. And committed suicide. The sisters too later died. One of meningitis and the other in childbirth. I have no idea what happened to the money. The husband married again.”
“Where are the other ornaments?” I asked, my voice dry.
“All sold, over a period of time. Where did you find the ring?”
“At an auction house. My husband bought it for me.”
“This ring is cursed. She had stolen it from him, her husband. He was to gift it to a Baiji he had taken a great liking to. I still remember how she had wept that day. She had loved him. She hated that he had other women in his life. If only I knew she was planning to commit suicide…”
His voice trailed off as he stared into space, a vague look in his eyes. I came away from the store, without him noticing. I did not wait for the money. I did not want to have anything to do with the ring.
Pix from Net.