It has been three years since this boy (me) met this girl (love of my life, mistress of my heart, my lady, my baby…). The relationship was coy and reserved in the way that all good relationships on the right path are at first. We even went through that phase when boy gets shit scared of the reality of the relationship, girl gets too invested, and relationship gets quickly kaput.
Tears, awkward path crossings, weird cinema visits, and bored intoxicated nights at nightclubs thinking about the other; found us back in each other’s arms.
Romantic? Not so much. Truth? Completely.
It is an age-old complaint, “Men just don’t listen”. I would like to think that I managed to prove that statement inaccurate. Our relationship progressed to the stage where every jewelry store window presented her the opportunity to go, “oh look rings” to which I replied, “…that is a really cool watch”.
“No presents,” she would say ripping through the giftwrap, “there is only one ‘gift’ I want and you should save up for it”.
I was flippant. I was inconsiderate. I was rude. I was an asshole… but for good reason. It was soon after our second year together as a couple that I decided, “Yes this lady gets my crazy, I should make things official”, and so began the planning. Hindu custom has no real place for an engagement ring nor the one knee question popping, my Hindu girlfriend however had her own expectations which she had no problems voicing once we were together for more than a year
This being the case the traditional gift laden trays and family visit was not going to cut it. There had to be a ring, not an “I sold an organ to buy this ring” ring, but a ring and a decent location that was different to the everyday, familiar surroundings.
Getting back to the, “Men just don’t listen”, comment. I tried my best to rubbish that stereotype. My lady has always mentioned her love for orchids and I noted this. As a birthday treat she took me to a spa. That evening sitting for dinner I was preoccupied with the table settings which happened to be orchids. I was then chastised for photographing more of the stupid flowers than paying attention to her. She also mentioned, in passing, that her favourite precious stones were those that were blue, besides diamonds of course, Sapphires and Tanzanite to be precise. I looked at every jeweler catalogue and window in Durban but found nothing that was really special and meaningful.
The designer in me realized that a ring designed specifically for her would speak volumes. When I was satisfied that enough reference was gathered I started the design of a ring just for my lady. Finding the right jeweler to make this ring proved a bit of a mission and something I never imagined doing. Meetings with jewelers discussing stone sizes and cuts and metal and colour and moulding versus engraving. The biggest stuff up came when I was asked, “What is your girlfriend’s ring size?”. Which guy knows this, seriously? I needed to get a ring size but still keep it all secret. Asking her friends for assistance was not an option, as lovely as they are women are horrible at keeping things hush. Thank God for little miracles. We were out to the mall one day and whilst perusing the shops, the girlfriend tried on a ring and said, “see, doesn’t this look pretty?”. Later, while she was distracted by my loving sister and more shops I excused myself, ran to the store with the ring, purchased it and hid it in my pocket until I found a jeweler with a ring size measuring thingy. Finally I found an excellent craftsmen who was able to make exactly what I wanted and the ring was made.
But what about her parents? So the traditional way is easy, our folks make those arrangements… we just pitch up. A modern world and a progressive culture means certain practices are outdated and not everyone’s cup of tea. But tea was a perfect idea. I made arrangements to secretly meet with her parents for high tea on Sunday and with my mum and respectfully asked for the blessings of the elders. High tea was a success… but secrets and lies needed to continue if my plans were to work.
On Friday the 13th of March, after over a year of planning, the day had arrived. We drove to the beautiful Oribi Gorge Lodge Hotel that beautiful afternoon. All through the car trip I mentally recited the chorus of a Bollywood song to sing as part of my grand proposal – cheese sells, believe it because it is true. Later that evening I insisted we change for supper but we needed to take a walk and see the sights at sunset because it would definitely be amazing on such a beautiful day.
We walked along the path to a viewing sight. A gift in my hand, curiosity and impatience in her heart and head. The gift was rather large so no ring was suspected (or so I have been told). At the sight I finally handed over the gift which was wrapped several times and well. She battled to find the edges but did. The good thing was that as she struggled to unwrap the box I battled to fish the ring box out my pocket. She eventually got to the actual gift and as she opened the box realization hit, for nestled in the confines of cardboard was several bangles. At the very beginning of our relationship I said to my girlfriend, “rings serve no purpose in the customs of Hindus and so if and when the time comes for me to propose I will do it the Hindu way (from what I understand) and give you bangles”. Surprised she turned to look at me but had to look down instead for I had taken to one knee, ring box open in hand and said, “Miss. Nina Maharaj, would you please give me the honour of allowing me to make you my Mrs.?”
The answer came was a very excited and shaky “YES”.
Just to be clear I never sang the stupid cheesy song, it just did not feel right, but I did confess having a song prepared. I also confessed all the lies that went into keeping my plans secret and had to name the co-conspirators. Neither of us cried, the ring fits perfectly and Oribi Gorge will forever be a special place to this boy and his very special girl.