While stepping out of my teens in medical college I saw my cousins settling in the so-called “marital bliss” one by one. This actually started bothering me, not because I wanted to be in their shoes or anything remotely related to sibling rivalry .To be precise, the constantly scrutinizing eyes of relatives or middle aged aunts in the wedding functions that view you as the next eligible bachelor in queue always troubled me.
Actually, I realized my single minded devotion towards academics only at one of these functions when I was bombarded by a series of questions ranging from great grand father’s place of birth to the father’s primary school or my mother’s inheritance by a seemingly harmless middle aged Punjabi lady clad in a really heavy saree. Plastered with an equally heavy made up face, she mocked at my “ORIGIN”al knowledge or the lack of it, with great pleasure. She taught me two important lessons that day . One, biology can be a study of roots but it floats you away from your own roots and second , if you can’t throw your weight around , wearing accessories may help you.
The same day , a “eureka” idea struck me . I decided my future course of action . Acting as per my plan, I studied hard to get a gold medal in that academic year and eagerly awaited the 1st professional examination results. The D day arrived and I was declared a gold medalist . The blueprint was ready now and it was a perfect opportunity to bring my plan into the next phase of action . However, what had seemed very easy in the beginning started looking too difficult to demand for.
As I entered into my father’s room with the good news he congratulated me on my success and asked – “What do you want as a gift from me , my son.”? I mustered up all my courage and blurted out – “ A GOLD RING”.A few wrinkles appeared on his forehead as he frowned in disbelief to this unexpected reply. Not aware of my intentions he kept looking at me while I fixed my gaze on the marble floor beneath me as if I had suddenly spotted a crevice there going deep down to the core of the earth. A medical student by this age develops an art of dodging further questions once he hits a bull’s eye and I knew I had done just that. The Earth might have rotated barely twice on its axis after this incident when my gift arrived in a special pack.
It was no less than a delicate surgery when I opened the gold ornament from its delicate packing for the first time. The outer box was a small plastic box bearing the name of the jeweler and his lucky sons (who might have been in the business even before they had entered any formal school). The box opened with a clasp knife effect ; it was hard to open initially but persistent pressure opened it a little till a point where it suddenly gave way. The inside of the box was all velvet and silky to touch and had a dull looking pink coloured rolled up paper. This had to be it. So I slowly picked up that ruffled pink paper and started unrolling it to reveal the most beautiful virgin gold ring I had ever seen. By this time, my ring finger had already started itching to grab the attention and with almost surgical precision the “miniature handcuffs” got fit in the finger.
Since the IT revolution had not set in then, the electronic gadgets to boast of in those days included pocket transistors, electronic watches or a walkman. And here I was, as a revolutionary, who was probably going to set a new trend of accessories. The whole aim of the exercise was not to impress my friends with the shining yellow metal but to enjoy my bachelorhood by keeping all those middle aged aunts at bay in marriage parties. However, this carried a great risk because I knew that the number of my coffee friends , most of them being girls, would drop faster than a sensex crash once they spot this ring. And it was hard to let it escape from their eyes as I knew girls have all their eyes on a man’s hand, especially at the time he is giving the tip to a waiter. As I could not risk taking the ring off my finger too often, I started covering it with my handkerchief feigning a hand injury during the canteen hours.
I didn’t have to wait too long for the trial run of my experiment as I received a call from my mother the following week. One of my distant cousins was getting married in the city and the venue was very close to my University. I was given the task of representing the family at the marriage function. I waited excitedly for the whole week as the prized possession was to be put to test. In Spite of taking all the precautions, a few of my friends had come to know of my treasure by then. Though everybody felt amused that I had developed an appetite for the yellow metal at such a young age, nobody knew about my plans to use it as a defense shield in the marriage parties.
I had to coax one of my friends to accompany me to the party in lieu of proxy attendance for him the next day at college. We reached well in time , the baraat had not arrived . After a few formal exchange of greetings with my uncle and a number of other unknown faces , I was free to enjoy the party . A few steps ahead, I spotted my aunt surrounded by a number of ladies with a grand thaali in her hand . She mumbled a few words to the group while I was approaching her and gave me a warm welcome . I could feel those familiar but awkward glances from the crowd around her through the corner of my eyes. But this time I was not going to let any of these ladies ruin my party. I didn’t want to undergo dissecting interviews at social gatherings anymore. Enacting my idea , I intentionally brought my hand to the face and started a casual scratch on my cheek and neck while talking to the aunt and explaining to her the reason for my parents’ absence. I succeeded in my venture of making the yellow shield of defense glitter in glory . I could feel it working mysteriously. The crowd suddenly appeared thin around her and half of the glances were shifted back to the entry gate. A few casual hugs later I was let free once again. I could hardly control my laughter when I managed to overhear a comment while leaving the group – “ Aw, missed a good opportunity, he is engaged already.”
Thereafter , the party went on uninterrupted for us and we had a great time for the few hours we stayed there. We could go to the “chaat corner” fearlessly. This stall was always thronged by ladies and we never dared to go there earlier.
We had the most satisfying experience and came back to our hostel late night.
Next morning , I was congratulating myself for the success of my idea when I spotted Riya at the entry gate of the lecture hall. She was looking beautiful as ever and I approached her with excitement. But all my enthusiasm dampened when she spoke in a tone I had never come across.
“ Who the hell you think , you are Mr. Romeo ? You meet a lot of girls here , make me feel very special , the whole class knows us as a pair and then all of a sudden , you appear at a local marriage party wearing an engagement ring !”
“ Shut Up. You Idiot. My mom was at the party last night and you were introduced to her by someone as a guy I hang around with . This is all over.”
In the next few years I failed to get any academic gold medal as all my efforts were directed at convincing Riya and her mom about my golden story.
I think I had acquired enough of the yellow metal already.