It was really the most unusual piece of jewellery. “Ocean jasper, love,” Rajeev remembered the husky voice of the woman at the Portobello Road market in London saying. “Its ocean jasper and silver, handmade. You won’t find another like it.” Entranced by the pendant where a stone shimmering with many colours nestled inside coiled silver wires, Rajeev had not hesitated in buying it for Supriya.
‘In those days, it felt cheap, for fifteen pounds,’ he thought. ‘What would I not have bought for her! I might have even tried for the Kohinoor!’ His mouth twisted bitterly at the memory of his madness – the depth of his adoration for the most beautiful girl in his neighbourhood, his college, his town…till he left it with a broken heart. Since the time he could remember, Rajeev had been completely fascinated by Supriya, as had many other boys he knew. But as they grew up, with Supriya being a year his junior in college, it seemed as if he was the one chosen above all others. Their love blossomed for over two years, and when Rajeev found placement in a software company and moved to Mumbai, he was only living for the moment when they could get married – the project in London had seemed like an imposition.
“Six months!” Supriya’s face looked forlorn. “You will be away for six months! And I have to decide about whether to accept the admission in Delhi or not. My parents are after me – either go ahead with the MBA, or get married. If I accept, I’m going to be stuck for the next two years. What do you want me to do?”
“Take the admission of course,” Rajeev had urged. “Where’s the doubt? When I come back, I will get a placement near you, and we will get married. You don’t have to interrupt your MBA for our marriage. I’m with you in all this, remember?” Supriya had nodded, but her face lacked conviction. Rajeev put any anxiety he felt out of his mind. Things got too hectic. He could come home only once, for a brief week, in the middle of his London assignment. He remembered clasping the sparkling silver and stone ornament around Supriya’s neck, kissing away her tears, as she clung to him and shook with wordless sobs.
‘Even if she had wanted to tell me it was over then, I wouldn’t have let her,’ he thought, in realization. When she did tell him, some weeks later by e mail, he was shattered, disbelieving. He wanted to rant at her, but she wouldn’t pick up his calls. He wanted to fly home and shake sense into her, but his work had reached a most critical phase. He was completely frustrated, and couldn’t understand what had happened till a classmate called him one rainy night. Walking home in the cold London street at 1 a.m, his stomach tightened as Viren said, “Supriya got engaged last week, yaar. Did she tell you?”
“No,” admitted Rajeev. “Who to? Anyone I know?”
“You may, or may not – his family lived in our town for one short year and he’s our senior by four years. Name is Siddharth.”
With such few words had his whole world been destroyed forever. He could never forget.
So what was the unique ocean-jasper-and-silver ornament doing around the neck of his newest colleague in office? The first time he saw it, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Nidhi had a way of twirling it around her fingers when she was deep in thought, and he found himself staring straight at it during an important meeting. Thinking he was staring at her, he saw her blush, and became confused and irritated himself.
In the weeks that followed, Nidhi’s voice, the strangely challenging way she looked at you if she felt you had done something wrong, the way she laughed and got along wonderfully with every single person in the office – all began to grow on Rajeev. Slowly, he began timing his arrival and departure to coincide with hers, so that their going out together became the most natural thing in the world. She seemed happy to keep in step with him, looking up at him and laughing her special laugh.
It was six months later, as they sat snuggled together in his car, watching the rain come down in sheets on the closed glass windows, that he finally summoned up the courage to ask Nidhi about the pendant. “Where did you buy this?” he asked, holding it between thumb and finger.
“Oh this – it was given to me by a dear friend in my MBA class,” said Nidhi. “You know, she actually put it around my neck and said, ‘I hope this brings you close to your true love – and I hope you’re both happy forever.’”
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