In the Indian Orthodox Church, the priest who conducts the Holy Matrimony puts the ring on the right index finger of the bride and bridegroom. The husband and wife will cherish throughout their lives the symbols of marriage; the rings, blessed crowns(in the form of gold chains), the minnu(heart shaped golden pendant with 9 golden beads arranged in the shape of a cross) and manthrakodi(the saree blessed and veiled over the bride).
It was a Saturday. I was making Ariyunda (a traditional Syrian Christian sweet, made from jaggery and rice flour) and before rolling the sweet into little spheres, I removed my wedding ring and kept it on my study table.
When I was halfway into the process, a guest came in. She was an intern in the hospital (where i am doing my residency) and her parents were known to us. She started chatting and meanwhile I was making the ariyunda listening to her talking. I finished making the dish and offered her some. She shifted uneasily as I turned towards her; somehow her face and tone of voice did not match. Five minutes later she got up to leave. That was when i happened to glance at the study table. My ring was missing.
Words cannot describe the anguish and sadness I felt at that moment. I started searching the table; then i just took the broom involuntarily and started sweeping under the table and chair. Then i realized suddenly how weird the girl might be feeling at my unannounced sweeping of floor when she was about to leave. I apologized to her and told her, ‘ you see, my wedding ring is missing’. She just replied, ‘ is it costly? you can always buy another one’. She did not seem to understand, so i continued to explain. ‘I understand that you are from an independent church and so did not understand why i am searching my ring so frantically. It cannot be replaced. That ring has been blessed by the 7 priests who conducted my wedding. It is a symbol of my marriage.’ She also then started searching with me, and even got under the cots with a torchlight. All the while i continued sweeping in vain. Suddenly she looked up and asked me ‘but why are you sweeping?’ By then I was in tears, unable to contain the anxiety. That was when I thought of telling her the parable Jesus told, about a woman who had lost a coin(one coin from the ten coins worn by the Jewish woman as a symbol of marriage.) Inadvertently in my panic, I had done just what the woman in the parable did.
Then I told her how precious a treasure my wedding ring is, and how the ring symbolizes the promise of God when He chose Renji and me, as husband and wife. As I spoke to her she started looking tensed. I asked if she was okay, to which she replied, ‘ I have to report for evening rounds now. I think my hands are sticky from the sweet. May I have a tissue.’ She wiped her hands and dropped the tissue in the dustbin, told me that she hoped I shall find the ring, and left.
I closed the door and sat on the bed with a sinking heart. I just did not know what to do. As i closed my eyes and prayed, the events in the past one hour unfolded in my mind like a powerpoint presentation, slide by slide. It ended at the vision of the girl dropping the tissue in the dustbin. As though in a haze I got up and took the tissue from the dustbin. My ring was lying underneath, sticky with jaggery.
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”