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Nusrat Ara

My mother wanted to get me a gold bracelet, but checking our jewellery box, she spotted a few things I never used. So she said it was better to dispose off those items.

Among these was a gold ring my grandpa had given me. It had my name engraved in Urdu against a green background, precisely the reason that I never wore it. As a young girl I found it embarrassing to wear a ring with one's name. It was akin to go around with a name plate.

But nevertheless I loved the ring and whenever I saw it in my jewellery box it gave me immense pleasure. I didn't want to let go of the ring which I neither wore nor intended to but mom had sound logic to back her and we ended up at the jewellers.

My mother, the only daughter among two brothers, was a darling of her family, especially to her father. Her wish was a command. Like most girls she was close to her father who took care of all her needs and whims. He was a mother to her while her mother had a job which kept her out of house much of the time.

Like my mother I was a daughter between two sons. Mom's job kept her engaged, so we siblings used to spend a lot of time at our maternal grandparents.

Slowly but surely I took the place of my mother in my grandpa's life. Aba, as we all called him looked after me like a mother. At dinner when I would usually be too sleepy and tired to eat, grandpa would feed me. Whenever he went to the market he would always ask if I wanted anything. He would see to it that everything I needed, from shampoo to clothes, were in ample supply.

I was much attached to my grandpa. As a child I considered it natural and took it for granted.

As I grew up other things invaded my life. Studies became a priority and then followed the career. However the stream of gifts from my grandfather never ceased to flow. It often surprised me how he sensed my needs. As if grandpa knew what I wanted. Many a times he would bring me things that I thought about the same day.

With time, our visits to grandpa's became less frequent. Aba would call and complain that I had changed. He would complain I don't visit him often and I don't miss him anymore.

At times I found it frustrating thinking how he cannot see things in perspective. Mother was not keeping good health so I had to stay home, mostly. I also needed to concentrate on my studies and a career. He refused to acknowledge that.

Time moved on so did life. Aba still insisted I visit him more often. Frankly I dreaded visiting him as a day's holiday would easily drag for a few. It was hard convincing him that I couldn't stay.

Now Aba would often drop in for a visit instead.

At the jeweller's I gave the ring, one last look. "Why do you want to dispose this off?" the jeweller blurted as he looked at the ring.

"She never wears it," my mom shot back. Ignoring her remark the jeweller continued talking to me "Well, take my advice, keep it."

I paused and looked attentively.

"You don't know how many pains your grandfather took to get this done. He wanted your name written in Urdu which only a few craftsmen could do. He had to run around a lot to get it done. He compromised on nothing and got it made exactly the way he wanted it, just for you," he said.

That was it. I grabbed the ring quickly and said, "I am keeping it," while mom offered no argument.

A feeling of joy and warmth crept over me with the touch of the ring.

Now I could see things in perspective. I understood the strange attachment to the ring. This lifeless object held in it lots and lots of love of my grandfather.

After we left the shop, we straightaway went to my grandpa's place. As usual grandpa lit up on seeing me. I showed him the ring and told him what I had learnt from the jeweller. His eyes sparkled.

I left the place wondering how in the humdrum of life we take many things for granted, missing many priceless things, which could save us from life's blues and give us happiness.


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