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‘The perfect gift to adorn the slender feet of your bride,’ said the Greek.

He spoke Tamil with a heavy accent, but passable enough for us to understand his words. Many years ago, the man had taken a Tamil girl for his mistress and gained an intimate knowledge of our local mores and quirks. He liked all things Tamil, and his inquisitive darting eyes always settled on any young woman in the vicinity.

Having noticed the Greek’s roving interest, I shot sharp looks at the servant girls and they vacated the courtyard. The Greek spied my silent dismissal but, feigning ignorance, he remained unfazed.

‘This one of a kind artefact was specially crafted, sir Kovalan, for the fortunate. The blood red rubies within give voice, and the anklets sing divine music.’

‘How did you come by these precious works of artisanship, sir Telamonius?’

‘Dear sir Kovalan, hear the full story and you too will be drawn to the ankle rings as I was when my eyes first beheld them. I had the good fortune to call on a dear friend, one who resides in a foreign land, who lately returned from his manufactory. He was the portrait of dejection. I enquired after his dull state, and the accomplished craftsman related a sorry tale.

‘His wealthy client, who had commissioned the anklets, not only rejected these marvels of craftsmanship but also commanded him to melt the pair and break the mould. It broke my dear friend’s heart to destroy this divine miracle. It was at this juncture, troubled as he was, that I, having chanced upon his predicament, suggested gaining purchase of the beautiful twins. He expressed reluctance tinged with fear, for he dared not disobey his client, but I relayed my plan to merchant the peerless pair in the pearly cities of Greece. There are many brown-eyed damsels in my sunny country, who will press their kings and lovers to acquire an article as rare as these wonders.

‘For truly, sir Kovalan, this pair created with tender patience and unrivalled skills was meant for new lovers. These were my thoughts as your friend and mine, sir Anandan here, mentioned your esteemed name and a possible need for some special gift to form part of the dowry for your virginal bride.’

‘Dear sir Telamonius,’ I said, ‘you offer the pleasure of ornaments, beautiful as they are in all aspects and of high value, but already rejected, even if the rejecter may be of noble birth. Why sir do you think I wish to adorn the feet of the queen of my heart with these discards? Do you not think my bright new wife deserves better?’

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

Continued on Monday: The Hand of Fate