THE DIAMOND RING
"Beautiful", Tristyn exclaimed while gazing at the stars.
(Tristyn , 12 , is an astrophile. She loves spending time under the night sky and locating a set of stars that form constellations. She had even demanded a telescope. "Forget about it" , was her mother's reply when she had asked for it.)
And tonight , Tristyn seemed to be lost in stars as if she had decided to count them until the sun rose. She was singing songs while looking at them. "That star looks like a diamond", Tristyn spoke , her eyes gleaming.
Her mother Mallory , 38 , came up running towards her. She was panting heavily.
Tristyn had stepped into another world - a world of stars. She didn't notice her mother and continued to appreciate the splendour of nature. "Adorable ","The sky is full of precious , beautiful diamonds".
Tristyn felt a hand on her shoulder , so she turned back.
"Yes , mom" , Tristyn spoke in a low , grave tone. And to her surprise , she received a slap from her mother.
"But , why ?", her low , grave tone giving way to a fierce one.
"WOW , so you’re questioning ME?", Mallory spoke angrily. "I heard you say D-I-A-M-O-N-D".
"Yes mom , but I wwaa-aa-sss", Tristyn was stuttering. Tears were rolling down her eyes.
"I think I've found the culprit , Lucas", Mallory spoke to his son , who was standing down in the lobby.
"But , what's my fault?",Tristyn asked.
"SHUT UP . Does a mentally ill person ask others to drag him to an asylum ? You've stolen my DIAMOND RING", Mallory spoke furiously.
Mallory is Tristyn's stepmother. Tristyn's mother , Mallory's sister , died due to drug overdose.
Mallory despised Tristyn and her mother , Jenny. Jenny and Mallory weren't on good terms with each other. Mallory was a quite well-to-do woman but Jenny was married in a poor family. Life had not been kind to her. She lost her husband 3 years ago in a car accident. After his demise , there was no one to support their family. And her neighbours did not bother to help her in times of need.
Jenny decided to take up the job of a tailor. But the money earned did not suffice. It had to be used for the payment of rent to the landlord , Tristyn's school fee and purchase of essentials. She could not carry this burden anymore.
Jenny wanted help. And..... she took the help of "DRUGS''. Her kitchen cupboard was filled with depressants and hallucinogens. They caused feelings like euphoria and craving for more of the drugs. Therefore , she spent her entire money on buying drugs. Tristyn tried to stop her mother but her efforts went in vain. Eventually , her mother became a "DRUGGIE". She used to sleep the entire day. And.... one day , she didn't wake up. Tristyn went running towards her mother. She screamed,"MOMMY". She could sense that her mother was in pain. Jenny was convulsing uncontrollably. Tristyn could see frothing at her mouth. Yes , she had died.
Tristyn was left alone. Her father's death , too , had a great impact on her. She would spend the entire night gazing at the stars. Her mother had consoled her saying,”Whenever a person dies , he becomes a star”. “Can you locate your father?”,Jenny would ask Tristyn. “Yes , mom”, Tristyn would say , pointing towards the pole star. Therefore , she used to go on the terrace every night.
From then onwards , she had developed a keen interest in galaxies and stars.
After her mother’s death , Tristyn led a solitary life. There was absolutely no one to look after her. Months passed. Her health was deteriorating. She had resorted to begging. One day , Kevin (Mallory’s husband) saw her on the road in a very pitiful condition. He , thus , decided to take care of her.
Therefore , on Kevin’s insistence , Mallory decided to take ‘care’ of Tristyn. But , Mallory was not kind to her. She would hit her for no reason. She would not serve her meals and if ever she gave , it would either be a stale chapati or rotten vegetables. Tristyn wanted to run away from this suffocating place but she had the strength to resist. She was helpless and desperate. Therefore , she continued to stay there in spite of the atrocities committed on her.
Mallory dragged Tristyn towards her room and pushed her over. Tristyn fell on the threshold of the door. She tripped and fell with a sickening thud. Blood was trickling from the corner of her mouth. She started crying in pain. Mallory didn’t pay any heed to her and locked her in the room. She could hear Tristyn knocking at the door.
Mallory was highly upset. After all, she’d lost her DIAMOND RING - the ring which she had bought from her savings - 5 years of savings. It had cost her INR 5 lakhs. And losing that exquisite and precious diamond ring would be no less than a nightmare for her. Before accusing Tristyn of stealing the ring , she’d even doubted her beloved son , Lucas , whom she had pampered all her life. Mallory was so materialistic that she even dreamt of money. Once Kevin had bought her a silver necklace on their anniversary. And that night , she dreamt of her necklace being stolen by Tristyn. Next day , when Tristyn came to her room to serve the morning tea , she threw it off in anger and disgust and the hot tea fell on Tristyn’s foot , making it burn. She did not utter a word , gathered the broken cup pieces and went silently towards the kitchen.
Mallory was infuriated. She made a phone call to her husband.
“Hey , how’re you Mallory ?” , Kevin spoke from the other side.(Kevin , 40 , is an employee in a firm and the only earning member of their family.
Kevin and Mallory are poles apart.He is somewhat considerate and tender-hearted. On his insistence only did Mallory agree to take ‘care’ of Tristyn.)
“I'm not good “ , Mallory spoke fiercely.
“I lost my D-I-A-M-O-N-D ring” , Mallory spoke , laying more emphasis on the word diamond.
Kevin did not know what to say.
“Whhatt?” , Kevin spoke in bewilderment and consternation.
“Yes , you heard it right and I think Tristyn has stolen it” , Mallory spoke wildly.
“By the way , where are you ? I've been trying to make a call for the past two days.”
Kevin spoke , his voice stuttering , “ Mallory , I’m out for some work. “
“I have some work at hand . Will call you later.” , Kevin said and hung up the phone.
“Hello , hello …” , Mallory continued to speak and after realising that he was no more on the line , kept the phone in her pocket.
Tristyn was in her bedroom . She was feeling hungry. She started knocking at the door . Mallory rushed upstairs on hearing the loud rap.
“What do you want ?” , Mallory spoke savagely.
“Mom , I want food”, Tristyn spoke softly.
“ I DON’T CARE , I need my DIAMOND RING”, Mallory spoke sharply. Her mercenary mind was engrossed in the thoughts of the diamond ring.
“I’ll hand you over to the cops”. Mallory’s anger had reached another level.
“I will not unlock the door. Stay inside” , Mallory shouted and went downstairs.
Tristyn was helpless. “How can a woman be so rapacious?”
Tristyn was starving. Her health was deteriorating. She started knocking at the door.
Mallory was in the kitchen , preparing breakfast for Lucas. She heard Tristyn knocking and went upstairs.
Mallory went towards her room and unlocked the door.
“I’m famished - Is there something to eat?”, Tristyn spoke , her eyes swollen with tears.
“Wait , you need something to eat. I’ll bring some food for you”.
“Yes”, Tristyn spoke and smiled.
“Eat it now”, Mallory spoke violently.
“But I can’t eat this. This food is meant for dogs”.
“Either eat this food or starve”. Mallory was crossing limits.
“THAT’S ENOUGH”, Tristyn spoke loudly. “Give me food. I’ll die of hunger.”
This provoked Mallory.
“Girl , you’re getting on my nerves”, Mallory shouted. She took a stick and commanded , “KNUCKLES”.
“I’m sorry. Please don’t hit me”.Tristyn was wailing.
The stick hit Tristyn’s arm and then , her back. Mallory was fuming. She continued to hit her.
Tristyn , then , threw a glass vase in self-defence. The vase hit Mallory’s head and within no time Mallory was on the floor. Blood was trickling from her temple. Tristyn stood open-mouthed.
Lucas came running on hearing the loud noise. “MOM”, he shouted. He started crying.
Tristyn was horrified. She , too , was crying.
“I’ll hand you over to the cops. You killed my mother”.
“Your mother was trying to kill me”.
Half an hour later , the ambulance arrived. The nurse checked Mallory’s pulse. “She’s dead”, the nurse spoke in a grave tone.
The cops arrived in an hour or so and Tristyn was taken into custody.
“It’s my fault.I know that. But , I threw the glass vase in self-defence.” Nevertheless , the cops took her.
Lucas was in his bedroom. He was sobbing.
“Mallory , Lucas , Tristyn … Where are you?”,Kevin’s voice echoed in the lobby.
He heard Lucas crying in his room.
“What happened , Lucas?”
Lucas didn’t answer.
Lucas started crying loudly. He was rubbing his eyes constantly.
“What happened son?”
“Please SPEAK”. Kevin grew impatient.
“She’s no more . Everything’s over now.” These words were like a thunderclap to Kevin.
Lucas narrated the unfortunate incident - Tristyn , the diamond ring , glass vase , etc.
Kevin was highly upset. He spoke his heart out to Lucas.
“Lucas , you know what?”
“The manager had handed over the resignation letter to me two months back.”
“Whhattt?”, Lucas spoke surprisingly.
“And , do you remember that we’d taken a loan of INR 6 lakhs , two years ago.”
“Yes , I do remember “
“The maturity date had arrived. And…”
“And … the funds were insufficient. So …”
“So , what Daddy?”
“I sold your mother’s diamond ring.”
After three days , Tristyn appeared in the juvenile court. She was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
Behind the bars , she stood , gazing at the stars , and crying , “I love you Mom and Dad ….. I miss you.”