The Lost Necklace
The Lost Necklace7 mins 270 7 mins 270
Mr. and Mrs.Sharma had a happy, contented family. They had everything that one could want as they were rolling in wealth and luxury. They lived in a palatial house which they had got designed by the topmost architect in the country. It resembled the mansions of the Victorian Era. The flooring was made of imported Italian marble which reflected the light of the sparkling chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The furniture manifested the artistic professional expertise of the designer. The building was surrounded by a garden dotted with fruit trees. There were neat beds of colourful flowers and carefully trimmed hedges. To make the garden an epitome of perfection, a rippling pond was added to enhance the natural beauty. There was a pair of ducks enjoying themselves in the crystal clear water and splashing about in sheer abandonment. As for the dog, he also had a very entertaining time, frolicking about the garden, without let or hindrance, chasing the little plucky birds which hopped from branch to branch in uncaring merriment. Such was the picture of the life-style of one belonging to the elite society of Kolkata.
Mrs Sharma could have been in her seventies. She loved to dress up and her wardrobe consisted of the latest in fashion and the accessories such as her purses and shoes matched all her delicate expensive saris. When she was dressed up, people had to take a second look--- she looked so sophisticated and elegant. Her silvery hair fell to her shoulders and she took the trouble to brush them thoroughly till they shone. Despite her age, she had a personality to reckon with. But she had one obsession, and that was collecting jewellery. They were made of pure Hallmarked twenty-two-carat gold. Some gleamed with the lustre of exquisitely- cut diamonds, others exhibited the mellow gleam of rubies, or else some showed the finesse in emeralds. Mrs Sharma was proud of her collection, and her overwhelming love for her jewellery was almost tantamount to a mental aberration. Now it so happened that when she had gone for her bath she had taken off her precious pearl necklace and had kept it carefully on her dressing table. But when she came back she could not find it anywhere. First, she asked everybody if anybody had any idea about the whereabouts of the necklace in a very calm and sedate manner. But when the answers were in the negative, she started losing her patience. Her rage mounted gradually and reached the stage when she could not speak coherently but stuttered and stammered. She flew into a frenzy and collapsed. Everybody came rushing to calm her down but to no avail. But where could the necklace have gone? It seemed to be an unfathomable mystery. Surely if it had been actually deposited on the dressing table, somebody must be responsible for its disappearance. Or was the lady forgetful, perhaps she had kept it somewhere else!
First of all, suspicion fell on Mr Sharma. He had crossed his eighty-fifth year. Physically he was absolutely fit but he had one problem. He was suffering from dementia. He could not remember the basic requirements of his daily life. He was tall in stature, but with a slight bent, with greying hair at the temples, encircling an expanse of a glistening dome-shaped head. To sum up, he looked quite a distinguished personality. Being retired, he did not know what to do with his time. He was an avid reader and loved listening to classical music, but his old bones needed exercise. Though regularly he went for his morning and evening walks, he needed something more. He felt he must contribute his mite to help out with the domestic chores. So he pottered around, examining the things lying about. If in his estimation something was not in the right place, he took the utmost care to do so. But unfortunately, he could never remember where he had painstakingly kept it. As a result, the object was lost forever.
Next, we come to the ebullient strapping youth who happened to be the son. Though mature in years, he was known for his childish ways and idiosyncrasies. Dev was invariably at loggerhead with his mother. Their bickering sometimes reached such a pitch that the walls vibrated with the sound of their acrimonious yelling. Dev left his room in utter disarray with books cassettes and clothes scattered about the floor. His mother would confiscate these things and Dev never saw his precious possessions again. His mother believed that that was the only way she could make him live with some decorum though she had realised that this effort to change his irresponsible ways should have come years ago. Dev nursed a surreptitious grudge against his mother and his state of mind was like dynamite about to detonate.
Nutan was the daughter. She had turned thirty-five. Though she was undoubtedly attractive and had a good figure yet she had crossed the marriageable age and was still single. Because of this paradox, she was suffering intensely from an inferiority complex. Invariably she was compared with her mother and the latter outshone her. Whenever the would-be grooms came for marriage, they were mesmerised by the mother's charms but noted something lacking in Nutan. This led to a feeling of rejection in Nutan for her mother. Though she did not show her feelings openly, it was deeply embedded in her psyche. Nutan just could not bear to see her mother dressed up in her finery and bedecked in jewels.
Last but not least were the two domestic Help who were absolutely indispensable. Both had been attached to the family for the past twenty years. Menoka kept the house clean by meticulously swabbing the floor, dusting till the furniture looked as they had been bought just recently. Her duties included washing up the crockery and it went to her credit that she had not broken any till date. When she washed and polished the cutlery they sparkled. To sum up she was very satisfactory in all that she did. Hari was the chef, as adept in his profession as expected. He could turn out a souffle or make a dish of stroganoff at a moment’s notice. But the plus point about his cooking was that he was a master in international cuisine. No wonder he was a hot favourite of the family. Now they were all worried that if one of them was found responsible for the disappearance of the necklace, then they would have to part ways and they did not appreciate the thought. Both of them had lately been mentioning how financially pressed they were. The former as she had to contribute to her daughter's marriage. The latter was finding it difficult to make both ends meet.
By mutual concurrence, the family decided that they must find out the whereabouts of all the members at the time Mrs Sharma was taking a bath. It was not difficult to exonerate Menoka as she was not present in the house, Her duty hours were from a later period. As for Hari, his work kept him confined to the kitchen. The panel of judges comprising of Mrs Sharma, Dev and Nutan, breathed a sigh of relief. Mr Sharma was nowhere to be seen. But his alibi was not required as Mrs Sharma remembered that she had sent him to get some onions from the market. Dev thumped the table and jubilantly stated that luckily at that time his friend Akash had called him to help him to inflate the bicycle tyre. So Nutan was only left from the list. She looked at everyone and seemed definitely uncomfortable and miserable. Then she started protesting vehemently. At that inauspicious hour, she was in her bedroom ironing her clothes. The family maintained a diplomatic silence and looked away. Nutan burst-out crying.
It was at this juncture Mr Sharma came striding in with his hands messy with soil. He had gone to the garden to feed the ducks and had spotted something gleaming from under the bushes. There were a few bones too hidden away from sight. As he dug into the pile of earth, he discovered the lost necklace which presumably the dog had picked up and deposited in his usual hiding place. Seeing the lost necklace, everybody gave a sigh of relief, but Mrs Sharma's face brightened up as if she had found her long lost child. It was a happy ending to a family fiasco.