No one knew. No one ever suspected her. Swapna had gotten away with the theft rather easily. The speculations and the conclusions all said it had to be somebody from the inside. Everyone had looked at each other suspiciously. But the accusing finger was never pointed in her direction. However, she was never able to use the crystal bracelet. She didn’t dare retrieve it.
Over the years, the topic was dicussed and dissected with much zeal by everyone in the family and neighborhood. A theft of something that valuable went on to become a legend in the family. For some reason police was not involved and Swapna thanked everyday all the gods known to mankind for that. Despite the excitement around the loss of the crystal bracelet no one’s theory was ever close to what happened in reality. Except for her and the God Almighty, there was no one who knew the truth.
It was her, who opened the secret locker of her mother’s cupboard and took the first thing that came in her hand. She was 21 and crazily in love. When Javed came and told her how he had gotten himself in a fix and needed a lot of money to escape, she didn’t know how to help him. She had offered him her own gold chain, but money from that would not be enough. Javed was angry and scary. He was in trouble and she wanted to help, she had to help, somehow. It was he who asked her to bring her mothers ornaments. He saw her weakness and immediately set about convincing her on how he would only pawn the gold and take it back immediately when he got the money.
Swapna knew that this was wrong on so many levels. But she trusted him. So with trembling hands and more guilt than she could carry, she stole from her mother.
Swapna had to keep the bracelet with her for a week before she could meet Javed and give it to him. At last he called her. Then she ran to meet Javed who was waiting for her at the broken arch entrance of the old fort. But when she reached there, all Swapna wanted to do was jump off the edge of the cliff into the foaming sea that hid the sharp rocks beneath its waves and disappear for ever.
Javed was entertaining his friends with stories of her stupidity and naivity, of how she would go to the end of the world for him, of how he had tricked her into stealing her mother’s jewels, of how she had let him touch her where even the she didn’t dare to.
With the same speed that took her to him, she ran into the inner vaults of the fort and among the darker secrets of history she etched her own misery and cried her eyes out. After many long hours and many many tears, Swapna emerged from the dark depths a changed person. She could not take the bracelet back. Everyone was searching for it everywhere. So she hid it behind a stone on the fourth row of the left column of the arch. She promised to retrieve it later and give it back to her mother.
This was 45 years ago.
Now standing in front of the arch, she could never keep that promise to her mother. Life had taken her to different places, some happy while others sad. She learnt so much more about love, trust and faith. Swapna slowly pulled out the mud from inbetween the stones and moved the stone on the fourth row of the left column of the arch.
It was still there. Untouched by man and nature. The cloth in which she had wrapped the bracelet was withered and dirty. Still it covered the jewel. It shone bright in the evening sun. Untainted. Pure. Precious.
This bracelet had saved her life and it was more valuable than money could ever be. Standing under the arch on an evening similar to that day, she likes to believe that the Gods were indeed with her. Even they couldn’t bear to see the humiliation of genuine intentions, sincere feelings and a true heart’s deed.
In response to Sue Vincent’s photo prompt