The Engagement Ring

The red ruby sparkled seductively.  Ritika felt a queer sensation in her stomach as her ruby engagement ring sparkled. She felt off-balance as if her world was wobbly. Logically she knew that it could be anticipation or nervousness, but there was also, an underlying feeling of being trapped.  But it was laughable. There was no reason to feel trapped. Ritika had willingly agreed to the match with Mayank. He was a good catch, decent and well-educated.   From across the cafeteria, Akash looked at Ritika and felt a lurch of anger. Akash and Ritika were best friends and colleagues. They would meet for a cup of coffee in the cafeteria every day at eleven.  But not for long, Akash thought, walking towards Ritika.  “Admiring the bauble?” Akash drawled an eyebrow arched towards the ring. Startled by his words, Ritika gave a sheepish grin in reply. “Impressive, right? Mayank says it is almost 2 carats!” Ritika replied, holding out her hand for Akash to admire the ring. “Hmm," replied Akash, “Maybe the size will compensate for your fiance's lack of qualities." Ritika bristled at the derision in Akash’s voice. “My fiancé," she answered, “is good-looking and decent.“ Akash nodded before adding, “You have forgotten his biggest quality. He lacks a brain." Ritika gasped at Akash’s insult. “Mayank is the CEO of his company. He is not dumb!” She cried in her fiance’s defence. “If he isn’t dumb, why did he make you quit your job?” Akash demanded. Ritika felt a pang in her heart. She loved her job and had not wanted to quit. But quitting was Mayank's only condition. He had not coerced, only gently persuaded her to look from his perspective. Ritika didn’t want to let her parents or Mayank down by making a fuss about such a trivial thing, so she agreed. “Mummyji is not keeping well. She needs someone to be with her,” Ritika murmured, hating the defensive tone in her voice. “He can hire help for his mother! Why is he marrying you?" Ritika’s cheeks flushed at Akash’s barb. “Stop demeaning me, Akash!” she cried. Leaning forward, Akash took Ritika’s hands in his. “You are demeaning yourself by marrying someone who wants to clip your wings. Look at me and tell me that you are happy sacrificing your dreams!” He insisted, his eyes boring into her. He waited for a beat before withdrawing his hands.  In a calmer tone, he added, “I will always be there for you. But don’t expect me to quietly watch you make the biggest mistake of your life.” “What should I do? Break the engagement? What will people say?” Ritika asked frustrated. Akash shrugged his shoulders.  “You have to decide what's more important, the opinion of people or your dreams.“ Looking at his watch, Akash got up.  “Unlike you, some of us still have a job," with this parting shot, Akash walked away. Alone, Ritika looked at her engagement ring, her mind, a whirlpool of doubts.  The red ruby sparkled seductively.  Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!