*** Ever heard the tale of how the luckiest man in the world felt like the unluckiest man. Every woman in the room admired her and every man was envious of me. It was when the lights flickered, the room span and I could hardly breathe, that’s when it hit me hard. I had just entered a lifelong contract and there was no turning back. Fighting not to faint, I nervously played with the ring on my finger. And it was in that instant that I realised the true purpose of the wedding ring. ***
This is story of love and tragedy, of how boy falls in love but marries out of love. But don’t confuse this for a Romeo and Juliet story. First off, I’m very rich. Net worth of 7.6 billion dollars last I cared to check. And secondly, I am Indian.
Despite my riches and fortune, I would consider myself a humble man. Maybe it’s because I have been the richest amongst all my friends and have never found the need to compete or prove a point. I am not angry with life, I am very blessed, and I thank Allah for that. My family, father in particular built an oil company from scratch. He is my inspiration. He has always been a hard worker. I still remember the days when I was young and he was a fisherman. He always woke up early and came home late trying to catch the little fish he could. You see, the river had very little fish, so you had to go further and beyond, take more risks, just to make a day’s work. And even the little he brought wasn’t enough to feed our large family. Being a fisherman was very unprofitable at the time.
Things got worse, he failed to catch a single fish in two days. Even though the whole family starved, we were not mad at him because we understood. But he was so mad at himself and he left in the middle of the night. I remember my mum was worried sick, she left early in the morning to ask the other fishermen if they knew where he was. And with stones faces, they said he went through the forbidden area, the “ROCKY TIDES.”
The rocky tides as the name suggests is the dangerous part of the sea where the current moves fast and unpredictable. And also, it had a lot of rocks, the fatality rate was a 100%. Nobody who went through ever came back to tell the story. But my mother never lost hope, she spent every hour she could when she was not looking after the family in the temple. On the seventh day, my dad returned with burns, cuts and bruises. He slept for two days straight. When he finally woke, the whole town had gathered to hear his story. His boat crushed on a nearby island and he was stranded. The night was cold and the sand was soft and the little fire he made was no good. So he dug a hole in the sand so that he could bury himself in the sand and sleep. But as he dug, water with a funny smell started to squirt out. He said it happened so fast. One moment he was happy he found oil, the next the entire island was on fire. Long story short, he had to swim back, using the rocks as support against the opposing current. He was the town hero, a legend and the oil was his. From there is where he built his fortunes. But as his wealth inclined, his heath declined, I will get to that later on in the story.
Enough about my father, I want to introduce you to the two most important women in my life, Rachael and Danish. Both Indian, but I will start with Rachael. Although Indian, she was born in America (USA) and came to work for our oil company. Matter of fact, she was my secretary at one point. I’m always used to having things going my way until I met her. She was feisty and thought she was overqualified to be my secretary. (Indeed she was.) I remember our conversation, I kept calling her in and giving her small tasks such as making copies and printing just so I could see her behind as she walked out. I think she caught on quite quick because on the third task, she refused and said a Harvard diploma doesn’t make you print lady. So I had to leave my own office to make copies and she had to watch me from behind…
Our relationship started out as a love-hate relationship. I was obviously attracted to her, I ‘think’ she was attracted to me, we argued a lot but on nothing serious. She was a professional, she took her work more serious than anything else. She was focused and very ambitious, qualities that I already admired in my father. She saw me as a spoiled rich kid who clowned a lot and she never took me seriously. But we got along just fine. I did try getting close to her once, twice, but she had these emotional walls that I (or any other man as a matter of fact) couldn’t penetrate. The turning point in our relationship was a good two years ago when our company was taking over a smaller but significant oil company. The deal was crucial to us because we were expanding and this firm had expertise natural gases, something my father always wanted to branch out into. She pulled the key strings in making it happen, and after the takeover, a promotion was due. I had mixed feelings about it, it was sort of bittersweet for me. She was moving up the ladder, something she always wanted. But it meant she would no longer be my secretary, and I was starting to get fond of her.
Everything was working out, my father’s dream was slowly becoming a reality. But during the final key meetings, she received a call from America, her brother died and she had to attend the funeral. She was torn between the two, the funeral and the takeover. She actually insisted on staying and going through with the takeover.
Neither my father nor the partners were pleased when I put the meetings on hold just so she could attend the funeral and worse still, I flew to America with her despite her protests. I should add that it was my first time visiting America, so everything was new to me and I also got to see a new side of her. Aside from the vulnerable side, I got to see the non-workaholic side of her. She was actually quite funny, courageous and yet daring at the same time. America was a great experience for me despite the circumstance. I guess she never knew she let me in because when we got back to India, things were different.
For one, she didn’t seem as thrilled as I had expected her to be when she was promoted to junior partner. It was like she was going to miss being my secretary, miss being close to me. She also began to open up, she began to tell me her fears, sometimes even without realising it. I was starting to see less of the robot in her and more of the human side. I will pause on her for a bit.
You see life is funny sometimes, it’s capable of making you dig your own grave without realizing it. You dig a hole to bury your treasure, yet get buried in it. I guess one man’s treasure is another man’s ‘grave’ mistake. Neither Rachael nor I saw this coming. I will introduce you to the second woman in my life shortly.
The takeover was successful and business was booming. This sparked interest in another rich family, the Manesh Family. They have been one of the richest and most powerful families for as long as I can remember. They owned ships and traded all sorts of goods across the seas. It seemed the company that we took over was of common interest. At first I never got it, why my father was getting close with the Manesh, and always carrying me with him to attend special events and functions. And that’s when I met Danish.
Danish was quite different from Rachael. Rachael was smaller, she had a tiny slender body with a face to die for. She was adorable and her big innocent yet fiery eyes were undeniably her best feature. Danish had a little more meat in all the right places, the curves on her body were also to die for. She was definitely a head-turning, neck-breaking, jaw-dropping (and any other term you can think of when you see an unbelievably beautiful woman.) bombshell. You could say she was the Indian Kim Kardashian.
I found myself spending more time with her because our families were in talks of a merger and we were the representatives. We kept meeting each other so frequently that she once jokingly suggested that I move into one of her spare bedrooms so that I could save on time wasted in traffic.
Danish was similar to me since we were both filthy rich. I could relate to a lot of things in her life. She had never travelled the world or even left India. I told her about America and she asked me to take her there one day. She was surprisingly very humble and modest despite the fact that she also never had to struggle or compete with anyone. She had a big heart and was generous to the needy, she was adored by the public.
As much as there was a connection between us, I only truly had eyes for Rachael. As soon as the merger was done, I planned on telling my father of my intentions of marrying her.
But like every great story, the twist comes when you least expect it. In my culture, sometimes your spouse is chosen for you, it’s called an “arranged marriage.” And this was a strategic move made by both our parents. I argued with my father and never spoke to him for a month, I only formally talked to him and addressed issues that dealt the company or other businesses.
I never told Rachael about it, I didn’t know how to tell her yet and I was still trying to find a way I could escape all this. As months went by, my father’s health worsened. I never did tell you this part but after his Rocky Tides experience, he got some infections through his cuts. He was rotting from the inside and not even the best medicine in the world could cure him. The best it could do was slow it down.
If it wasn’t for his bad health, I would have run away with Rachael. I saw growth in her, the fire my father had. With Danish, her wealth came from inheritance, she never experienced or knew what it was to struggle. Everything was handed to her on a silver platter. Her dreams sounded like programmes waiting to happen; when I am 28, I will do this. When I am 30, I will do that. At 40, I will be this.
There was no growth for me if I stuck with Danish. With Rachael, I did see myself becoming better and stronger, I had a growing desire to challenge even the impossible.
Rachael eventually found out and not the way I was expecting she would. Two weeks before the wedding and merger, our families announced it publicly. It was done so as to bump up stock prices before the merger. I entered my office that day and found her letter of resignation on my desk. It happened just like in the movies, I rushed to the airport and stopped her just before her plane was about to leave and ripped her ticked. She slapped me in front of everyone. I explained everything to her, my intentions; what she meant to me and that’s when I told her I loved her for the first time. We wept, still, we were in public.
I spent a night in her apartment, nothing happened, I hadn’t even kissed her before. (We take sex very seriously in our culture). We just sat in silence, trying to take it all in. The next day she decided she was going back to America. With the experience she had gained and the money she had saved, she was going to start a company of her own and attempt to conquer the west. She actually convinced me to obey my dying father’s wishes no matter how impossible. She wasn’t going to stick around for the wedding or continue to work for me because it was too painful.
A day before the wedding, my dad died but he left me with the wedding ring. He opened up to me and told me his marriage to my mother was arranged too. He too had someone else he loved but he grew to love my mother even more. His point was that on his wedding day, he disliked the woman he was marrying and he thought he was making the biggest of his life but things turned out fine. Life doesn’t always go the way you expect it to go, sometimes it can go better than expected. He gave me his wedding ring and said if I was at my lowest point especially at the wedding, I should hold on to it for strength and maybe I would understand, and feel the magic.
It was the day of the wedding and I was ready to kill myself. But I had to honour my dad’s wish and Rachael’s too. Hours before the wedding, I wasn’t ready or even dressed up. My mind was on Rachael who was probably somewhere in an American hotel buried under the sheets trying to forget this day. Just then, I received a knock on the door and it was Rachael…
I knelt down and proposed to her, placing my father’s ring on her finger. She looked at it, it was beautiful. It had four red emeralds around it. Her eyes started to tear, then she slapped me. (Yes, the old Rachael I remember from the first days.) She hadn’t come to stop the wedding or run away with me. She came to say her final goodbye because if she hadn’t, she was going to regret it for the rest of her life. She helped me dress into my wedding attire. Then we danced to one song, pretending like we just got married and she moved closer to me and said, “I want to kiss you for the first and last time.” And it happened, I felt the magic that every guy is supposed to experience on their wedding day.
I walked into the temple and everyone was smiling at me. Danish looked beautiful, never have I seen a woman more attractive than her but sadly my heart wasn’t with her. The ceremony passed like a blur, my mind wasn’t with her, it was with Rachael. I was being strong because she had asked me to be strong, strong enough to let her go.
The moment for Danish and I to have our first dance came. She was emotional, her eyes were trying to fight the flood erupting. As we danced, she started to confess how she fell in love with me from the day she first met me. Even though she was capable of achieving her all of her dreams, she was scared of this one, it was magical to her, a dream come true!
There I was trying to be strong, taking her like a man. It was when she said these words that I felt sick in my stomach and weak in my legs. “I’m so happy to be your wife, you are my first and last.”
I only heard the last part and I wasn’t even sure if I was with Danish or Rachael, I was almost fainting. The dance was over and the people surrounded us forming a circle. I could barely make out anyone’s face, everyone seemed like a stranger. I could only make out my mother and three other significant people in my life. I took one final deep breath…
*** Ever heard the tale of how the luckiest man in the world felt like the unluckiest man. Every woman in the room admired her and every man was envious of me. It was when the lights flickered, the room span, I could hardly breathe, and that’s when it hit me hard. I had just entered a lifelong contract and there was no turning back. Fighting not to faint, I nervously played with the ring on my finger. And it was in that instant that I realised the true purpose of the wedding ring. ***
Each emerald represented the four faces I could make out in the crowd, my significant people, my pillars. Just then, I felt a little strength, like my father was patting me on the back. The wedding ring wasn’t supposed to give me strength nor was it about the emerald ring. The wedding ring was actually the circle (Ring) made by the crowd around us with the four emeralds representing the four most significant people in my life. I looked up and whispered to my father. Even though I was unhappy now, I was in good hands, life would turn out just fine. With a tear falling off my face, I kissed the wedding ring.