The Jewel

Daniella Young

A postcolonial response, writing back to Bharati Mukherjee's ‘A Wife’s Story’, critiquing the authors class prejudice.


She slid the unboxed bracelet through the small hole in the counter and, like a bank transaction, the blonde-haired man pushed back a neatly printed cheque. Holding the bangle in his palm, he ran his forefinger around the smooth gold edge until it reached protruding gemstones. He’d never seen anything of these colours before, rich gold and reds that glitter-balled under the harsh halogen glow. Four rubies he counted, a scattering of smaller stones, zirconias, he was certain, lacking the brilliant pure shine diamonds possess. 22-Karat; bracelets were rarely the twenty-four she reassured him it was.


“Three-fifty dollars ma’am, as we discussed”, he said, momentarily looking up. She folded the paper and stuffed it into her faded faux-leather purse. She was obscure, her air of superiority misplaced in a naive sense of self-importance, stripping her exquisiteness. She didn’t elicit desire, merely intrigue, long black hair falling in waves over tanned skin emphasising the depth of her muddy-brown eyes. Eyes that concealed her shame at selling her exotic jewellery to the pawnbrokers from the infomercials, to afford an American education. Everyone had a story, hers no different to the throngs of girls before, in search of something better, trading oriental treasures for American Dreams. As quickly as she’d entered, she was gone, into the hubbub of the street. He watched her reach the corner of 8th and 34th, disappearing into the June sunshine.

* * *

In the window, I shone, I glittered and dazzled, passers-by stopped, pressing their faces against the glass watching my show. On my stand light ricocheted off the facets of my surface. Seasons changed since she’d left; fall brought amber jewellery and the depth of my colour seemed too bright for the dull New York winter. I was a taste many visitors to this Manhattan street didn’t appreciate, classic, elegant. Sovereign rings filled the cabinets and brash 9-karat gold chains screamed cheap low quality. I was a precious artefact. It is hard to appreciate exotic beauty when one is surrounded by ghetto fashions.


“You been here a while ‘aint cha”. The tough punchy accent pierced the silence, heavily stressing consonants. The Bronx. I waited for my stand to rotate, to locate the source of this failed attempt at polite conversation. A solid looking gold bracelet with an obnoxious plaque engraved D-A-D. Gold plated, I presumed.


“Yes”, I said coldly, avoiding conversation or association with ‘dad’, turning to show myself to the busy street. They never talked to me and I liked that.


“How comes you here?” he barked. I reluctantly told my story of the Indian woman funding her degree. “It had pained her to sell me”, I bragged, “What about you?” I asked, having already imagined stories for everyone, ‘Dad’ funded a drug addiction, ‘dollar sign pendant’ paid court fees and diamante crucifix was a DNA test proving paternity, an eclectic mix of Jerry Springer rejects. “He just wanted the best for his family”, dad said, softer than before. He wasn’t as brazen as his exterior suggested. His owner was using the money to better himself, returning to school, hoping to improve his family’s prospects.


“We aint that different”, he said breaking the silence. For the first time I agreed. In that shop on 8th Avenue we were the same, precious items sold for a brighter future.



Daniella Young


brightONLINE student literary journal

14 Aug 2013