Centuries ago, a genie gifted a Sultan a ring with magical powers. When rubbed, the ruby-adorned band would coax a woman’s private parts to confess her amorous trysts and secret desires. However, the ever-suspicious Sultan’s gross misuse of the ‘boon’ forced the genie to take the ring back.
The wait for the next owner began.
The change in hands became inevitable two hundred years later. Under the starlit sky in a posh penthouse apartment in Bandra, the relieved genie handed the ring to Laila and told her that it worked just as well on men.
[Present Day Mumbai]
Laila woke up with a start. What a horrible nightmare! Grimacing, she fastened the silken robe around her slender waist and tied her burgundy-dyed hair into a bun.
She staggered back against the pillow when her groggy eyes fell on the ring. The ruby, as red as her favourite Chanel lipstick, glistened in the morning light.
What the f**k?
** 8 hours ago **
The last guest tottered out of the party. Laila went to the terrace to fetch her iPhone when she saw a bluish potato-shaped creature seated on the settee. A black headgear rested on its oblong head.
“Laiq! Is that your idea of a twisted joke?” an exhausted Laila groaned.
“Your husband is strolling on the banks of the Seine as we speak.” The reply was instant.
Laila stepped back, gasping. Nobody knew Laiq had flown off to Paris on a business trip.
“Who are you?” Laila asked.
The creature floated towards her. “I am a genie. I’m here to hand over a magical ring to you.”
“Oh really? Does it speak?” Laila asked with a smirk on her face.
“Better. Rubbing the ring in front of a man forces his genitalia to confess their indiscretions.”
Laila giggled. Being a post-graduate in French literature, she was no stranger to the erotic novel Les Bijoux Indiscrets penned by Denis Diderot.
“Why me? And what is the purpose of this role reversal?”
“You are a sane woman. I’m sure you’ll use it with discretion.” With that, the genie placed the ring in her hand and disappeared like smoke billowing out of a chimney.
Laila picked up the ring and slipped it around her finger with ease. Did the Sultan have slender hands? Or did the ring adjust to its owner’s size? Shrugging her shoulders, Laila breezed into the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee.
“Should I try it on someone?” she wondered.
The rational voice in her uttered just one word. Balderdash!
With a smile, Laila took the cup to the terrace.
*** 2 weeks later ***
Champagne flowed like a fountain at the party. The fifty-year-old birthday boy Laiq was serenading a woman in a goldfish-coloured saree with a Kishore Kumar song while Laila moved around with the grace of a ballet dancer, playing the perfect hostess. Her scarlet cocktail gown matched the ruby that adorned her manicured finger.
Her eyes darted to an obscure corner of the hall. A petite girl stood there, leaning against the wall. Her beautiful face was sans makeup, and she cast furtive glances around. Laila felt as if somebody had placed a box of lead on her chest.
What if I make a spectacle of myself?
The rational voice whispered to her. Justice!
Laila turned to face Laiq, who had abandoned the bubbly for whiskey and was now following the human goldfish in a Dev Anand-like swagger. Letting out an inaudible sigh, Laila rubbed the ruby.
The ring began to work its magic, much to the bewilderment of the guests.
*** A week later ***
Wiping the tears, Laila handed the ring to the genie.
“Are you sure you don’t need it anymore?” it whispered.
Laila shook her head. “I’m done with this stupid ring.”
“Stupid? It helped you.”
Laila nodded. “I wish it were a bad dream.”
“But you knew it all along?” the genie prodded.
“Hmm. I had an inkling that Laiq was sleeping around. But I didn’t bother to find out. I have not led a nun’s life myself.”
“When did you first suspect it?”
Laila’s eyes glistened with fury. “Why didn’t I notice the signs? Aliyah was only six when I married Laiq. He was such a doting father to her. Or that’s what I thought. Imagine! That b*st*rd was raping my daughter, yet I remained unaware of it.”
“You did the right thing at the party,” the genie mumbled.
“I don’t know what prompted me to do it. I felt so guilty. Aliyah broke down before me the day Laiq was supposed to return from France. After that, I didn’t care about the niceties. I had to expose him in front of our friends.”
“You are a bold woman.”
Laila looked at the genie. “I wonder why Aliyah confessed after so many years. Has that anything to do with your intervention?”
A faint smile hovered over the genie’s lips. “It’s the power of magic. Do you believe in it now?”
Laila sighed but said nothing. The genie patted Laila’s hand and vanished.
Laila moved into an apartment in Vile Parle with her daughter. She knew tongues would wag. But in a world filled with fickle-minded people and faux emotions, she would soon be relegated to stale news once the initial hysteria fizzled out.
She didn’t need the ring anymore. The flash of shame that swept across Laiq’s handsome face that evening beat the magical powers of the ruby. Aliyah’s subsequent complaint to the police ensured that Laiq would spend a considerable time in prison.
Meanwhile, the genie arrived at the Indian capital and settled on the couch of a politician’s wife. Confident that the ring would never be misused again, he waited.
Les Bijoux Indiscrets – The Indiscreet Jewels
(Bijoux – used as slang for vagina in 18th century France)