Monday, January 18, 2010

The Ring & the Maiden

A rare diamond ring came to a maiden, who learned to be delighted in her find. The ring was content to belong to the pretty lady, and she was happy to have it.

Each morning, the ring was the first thing she wanted to see. While having her tea, she looked upon her ring with utmost affection. The beauty of the jewel was simply bedazzling. She put it on her hand with much pride. While she went about her daily chores, she was careful not to bruise it, so she took it off. Her friends admired the ring, and then, all the more she liked the ring. “Oh yes, this is my ring,’ she’d say. “Isn’t the diamond big and beautiful?”

“It certainly is,” they would say.

Every night before turning in to bed, she would take off the ring and buff it till it shone. After that, she would keep it safe in a special box on her bedside table, and go to sleep.

As time passed, the shine of the ring began to fade in her eyes. When she looked upon it, she felt the gold was not as lustrous and the diamond was losing its fire somehow. And the more she saw it, the more she felt this was so. The maiden was getting severely disappointed.

She still wore the ring when she went out with her friends, but she was losing pride in her prized possession. When others would compliment her on the beauty of her ring, she would just smile faintly and say, “Oh, it used to be special, but there’s no charm left in it now.”

The ring felt deeply saddened that its mistress was fast losing her care for its true value. She did not clean it anymore like she used to, and ultimately the rich metal and the stone were drained of their warmth and brilliance.

Time passed and dejection grew. When she visited friends, the maiden loudly marveled at the plain crystals in their homes, while she remained coldly silent about the exceeding preciousness of her own. A point came when she hardly looked at her ring and did not pay it any attention any more. Why, for her, even the silver vessels in her friend’s home were more deserving of praise and credit than the ring she bore. So she kept it on while she washed her clothes, pots and pans, and even while she weeded her garden and cleaned the soot in the hearth.

Neglect turned into carelessness; carelessness bred contempt. The diamond remained unscathed, but the gold surface was full of tiny scratches.

A day came when the ring was lost. The woman, at first, hardly noticed its absence. After a few days, when she did, she searched for it for two minutes, and when she found nothing, quit. She went into her kitchen, put the tea kettle on the boil, and said to herself, “Was it not a valueless piece, anyway?”

Some months later, in a village at a distance, a simple peasant maiden found the ring at the base of a tamarind tree, below a crow’s nest. She was delighted with her find. She took the ring to the mountain brook, and there she washed away the grime and the dirt on it. Using the fine gravel on its banks, she tenderly polished the gold. Then she held it up.

Once more, the ring shone in all its glory in the rays of the morning sun.

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