A flash fiction piece on a much-awaited delivery
|It wasn't just any Saturday. This one was special. I woke up with a spring in my step and a song on my lips.
Years of fortitude culminated in the anticipated reward today. It hardly mattered that my step was all the way from the bed to the wheelchair. An accident while climbing a tree, in my early childhood rendered my lower half as immobile as the tree. Gravity can be so unforgiving.
We were an intimate group at home: the girl who couldn't walk and her ailing grandmother.
My grandmother never tired of the story. I knew by heart, every intonation and pause that provided so much color to the narrative.
Back in the 1900s (the only part of the story with a tinge of vagueness), my grandfather was the Maharaja's advisor. The king relied heavily on my ancestor's sage and sanguine words.
On His Majesty's right index finger nestled a ring of sheer brilliance. A black opal, the size of a small beetle, festooned the center, bordered by a pattern of intricately cut diamonds – eight of them, two each on the top and bottom and two each on the left and right sides. A truly wondrous and opulent circle to have ever adorned a human finger.
Due to my grandfather's timely advice, the king averted a war of epic proportions by marrying off his lovely daughter to his adversary's son. It was a win-win situation as the boy and girl already had a secret dalliance unbeknown to the warring kings.
A lot of mundane details of the romance bored me, though I listened intently every time the grand old lady narrated the tale.
Cutting to the brunt of the matter, the king gifted the ring to my forefather. An heirloom in possession with the royal family for generations transferred to my family.
Being a philosopher to the core, my grandfather had had no desire for jewels and gave it away to the government once the princely states dissolved into the pretense of democracy.
My grandmother wanted that ring back before she passed on. Over eleven years, I wheeled back and forth amongst all the courts of the land fighting to retrieve the inheritance.
Then, last week, the court made a decision in our favor.
As it was such a precious object, the government made provisions to deliver the ring to our home – with an armed escort.
I rolled out into the living room. The old lady chirped merrily to an old tune playing on her little digital radio. I almost saw her as a bit of girl traipsing along with a young philosopher boy.
The bell rang.
The little woman was out of her rocking chair, and at the door, her alacrity belying her age.
All I could do was smile as the door opened, and solemn-looking folks brought in a safety deposit box. For some reason, three men needed to bring it in,
Formalities followed, and documents exchanged hands.
The most senior looking fellow made some official noises and then they left.
With shaking hands, the grand dame opened the safe. Her hands still aquiver, she pulled out a small velvet box.
I pressed my hands into the sides of my mobile throne to get a better look, and sure enough, her descriptions matched the ring she put on her comfortingly wrinkled finger.
My grandmother heaved a deep sigh and gave me her usual piercing gaze.
"Tara, it is time for the truth,"
"What truth?" I asked. She was beginning to lose it.
"This is my wedding ring. These are all false stones."
She treated me to a beatific smile.
Resembling a guppy for a few seconds, I spoke.
"What do you mean false?"
I possessed the uncanny knack of getting to the nub.
"The story I used to tell you since you were a child."
That was neither a complete sentence nor did it provide any illumination.
"What about the story?"
"I made it up. The government also thought the story was true. I couldn't possibly tell you, after everything you did, now, could I?"
"You mean, this was not given by the king to your husband?"
The lady was enjoying herself a bit too much.
"He exchanged it for a few old books, dear child."