“Wow! What a beauty!” My aunt’s eyes shone with admiration as she stared at the glass showcase that was placed in the centre of the room. I stood on my toes and craned my neck for a better view, but all I managed to see was the top of a huge glass box.
Sonia, my six year old cousin, tugged at my dress, forcing me to look down. I caught her hand and waited for the crowd to move to the next exhibit that would catch their attention- which would likely happen very soon since the National Museum of Natural History is full of interesting finds. After a few more minutes of waiting we finally managed to see the centerpiece that was the cynosure of all eyes- The Hope Diamond.
Twinkling under the spotlight, the hope diamond was a spectacular shade of midnight blue, surrounded by a ring of fiery white diamonds. The 45.52 carat Hope diamond, named after Henry Philip Hope, is the world’s largest deep blue diamond which is attached to a necklace made of 45 white diamonds.
“Whoa, what’s this?” Sonia gushed as she stared at the diamond; much like her mother had some time back.
“It’s called the Hope diamond,” I said looking reverently at the ostentatious piece of jewellery.
“Sonia… don’t you know the famous Hope diamond and the story behind it?”
I turned around and saw my cousin, Prem, sauntering towards us with a hint of mischief in his eyes.
“No bhaiya. Tell me what’s the story?”
She cocked her head to the left and peered closely at the diamond. She was about to touch the glass box when Prem shouted, “Nooo! Don’t touch it, you will also get cursed!”
I knew this boy was up to something. I rolled my eyes and pressed my lips together, unable to contain my smile. Sonia gasped and recoiled from the display as if she had touched burning coals.
“Cursed?” Sonia squeaked.
“Yes! That’s right! This diamond has a long and mysterious past and it is most definitely……” Prem stopped for what seemed like eternity and finally said, “CURSSSEEEDD!”
He stretched out the‘s’ so much that he sounded just like a snake. A muffled laugh escaped my lips and I quickly covered up by coughing furiously.
“I say this because every single person who owned or wore this diamond met with a horrific end.”
Sonia’s eyes widened with fear and confusion. Her small lips curved into a little ‘o’ and she slowly inched away from the glass box. Prem flashed a tiny smile as if pleased with Sonia’s reaction, but the next second his smile was gone and without further delay he resumed the story.
“It is believed that during the French revolution, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who owned the diamond, attempted to flee France but the diamond was turned over to the French government and they both were beheaded! Do you know why this happened? Because of this cursed hope diamond!”
He jabbed a finger in the direction of the diamond and scrunched up his face into one of mock horror.
“This diamond was passed on through centuries but it left a path of doom and destruction in its wake. A man named Jacques Colet, who bought this diamond committed suicide, Prince Ivan Kanitovski who bought the diamond from Colet was killed by Russian revolutionists. Another man who bought the diamond, Simon Mencharides, was thrown from a precipice along with his wife and child.”
Prem spoke every sentence a little louder and punctuated his little speech with wild hand gestures. Prem’s histrionics had managed to snare the attention of many tourists.
“This is not all…. A princess who wore this diamond was torn to pieces by an angry mob and a Turkish attendant who bought the diamond …….” Prem clutched his throat with both hands, shut his eyes, stuck out his tongue and made a loud choking sound.
“Mamma!!” Sonia wailed and ran to my aunt.
“Prem! Look what you’ve done! You scared the poor child!”
“Come on Di! I was just having some fun! Besides whatever I said wasn’t a figment of my imagination, it’s the truth. You can look it up on Google if you want to,” he said with a smirk.
While the tourists were thoroughly entertained, my aunt was furious. She reprimanded Prem for scaring Sonia and driving her to the verge of tears. After a sound shouting he was made to apologize to a visibly shaken Sonia and was dragged out of the museum by my agitated aunt.
I looked one last time at the supposedly sinister diamond. It sparkled and gleamed through the glass pane as if winking at me, beckoning me to touch it. I couldn’t shake off the chill of foreboding that ran through my body. Was Prem saying the truth? Was this diamond really cursed? But how can it be? Drat! It seemed as if Sonia was not the only one affected by Prem’s little story. I shook my head and walked away without a backward glance. As much as I loved diamonds, I was certain of one thing, this was one jewel I’d rather not own!