Dating : Sacred Gems

h2>Dating : Sacred Gems

Saurya Velagapudi

My sister is six years older than I am. Before I hit puberty and got real big, my sister used to schedule in time to pick on me. Most of the scenarios start with my acquisition of some delicious snack and her desire to repossess.

“Are those mint chips?”

Mint chips were some of my favorite. The general store next to our house would only have them a few times a month.


I reached in for the last three remaining in the bag. My sister lunges at the bag and grabs it.

“Why do you take everything?”

“Because if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t be here.”

My sister loved to tell me this story.

“So when I came out of mommy’s tummy I left a little piece of myself behind. It took six years, because you’re a little slow, but you finally grew out of that piece of me, and that’s why you’re here!”

She grabs the last few chips and eats them. Mint chips weren’t even her favorite, I was convinced she enjoyed depriving me of my favorite more than she enjoyed the taste and tactile sensation of the chips. Her favorite were Gems.

My friend, Anurag, came to ask me to play.

“Hey Saurya, the slides are empty! Sai and I are going to play with Akshay”

“Amma, can I go?”

My mom always let me go before dark. I would return before sunset because that’s when the dogs came out. The dogs were terrifying.

“Did you eat?”


“OK, take care!”

Anurag, Sai and I went off to the playground. Anurag’s family lived in the highest-level bureaucrat’s quarters. Mine and Sai’s family lived one level below that. Our parents didn’t cross the bureaucrat hierarchy very often, but kids cared less. One time Anurag and I set fire to a lot of things in his house.

“Saurya, I found these matches in amma’s cupboard”

“What does she do with them?”

“She keeps them from papa when he smokes too much”

“Do you want to burn something?”

“I don’t know…”

We quickly found some paper and a rubbish bin.

“How fast do you think it will burn?”

“I don’t know, I’ve never burned paper before.”

We light the paper. It is very quickly consumed by flame and releases a billow of smoke. There were no smoke alarms in the house. None of the houses we lived in were made of wood. Stone floors, brick walls, almost a metaphor for our friendship — rock solid.

“Should we light another?”

“Yeah yeah!”

I was a bit of a pyromaniac.

“Let’s bring the rubbish bin over first”



Anurag was a boy of many names. Anurag Hemant Singh. His mother called him Hemant. During cricket he was Motu.

We stashed the matches and pretended nothing was going on. His mom didn’t come in to the room.

Sai was a stubborn little ball. When we played cricket and the ball came rolling towards him, he would shrink away, majestically providing a path for the ball to roll.

“Sai, throw the ball!”


He waited for it to stop.


His mom was always furious about his temperament.

“Sai, why didn’t you do half the exam?”


She used to hit him a lot. He never budged or cried. She did though.

One time he dropped some cake in full view of his mother. I was there too.

“Sai, pick it up!”

Sai obliged. She hit him straight across the face.

“You should be more careful with food!”

I ran for my life, I’d never seen anyone hit someone else. Aunty later had a chat with my mother and they both laughed at my cowardice.

One time, Anurag, Sai and I were walking towards the playground on the far side of the campus. On the way was the general store.

“Do you want to get some gems?”

Gems were a candy not entirely unlike M&Ms.

“Yeah! I have 70 paise with me”

“Ravi uncle, can we have a Gems packet?”

I handed him the money and received gems. There were 16 in a pack.

“Do you want one?”

Anurag took 4

“Do you want one?”

Sai took 5

I quickly ate the rest. My sister would never know.

We made it to the slides. It was a big metal monstrosity that got very hot in the sun but at three meters high, it was a mini-Everest in my eyes.

“Who is going first?”

“I’m scared, I don’t want to go”

We often had to force Sai to go on the slide. He never really enjoyed them much.

“I’ll go!”

I got to the top of the slide and eagerly slid down. The bolts at the top of the slide made quick work of my shorts, ripping them in half.


“Are you OK?”

“Uh huh, uh huh, I think I tore my shorts”

My friends took a look

“They are torn!”

“What do I do?”

“You should go home, tell your mom, my mom always stitches things up for me”

I started walking away, holding my dignity together with my left hand. I sealed the tear in my firm grasp. My buttocks would stay hidden for now. I proceeded home. On the way, I was afraid of the dogs. I was always afraid of the dogs, but for now, there was something far worse looming. My sister and her friend Deepika, coming out of my apartment building.

“Hi Oni, what are you doing?”

“Nothing, going home”

“Why do you have your hand behind you like that?”

“No reason, I need to go home”

“No no no no. Naughty boy. You’re hiding something aren’t you?”

“No, I just want to go home”

“No, you’re hiding Gems! You bought some and don’t want to share with me!”

“No, I didn’t buy Gems!”

“You’re lying, I can tell”

My sister was right, my guilty conscience screws me on technicalities: I had bought Gems earlier that day, but that was unrelated to what I was hiding. She could read me like a large-print novel.

“Give me your hand!”

She took my hand and saw it was empty.

“You must have kept them in your pocket, turn around!”

Ever the obedient little brother, I turned around.

My hands no longer sealing the tear, I was reluctantly mooning my sister and her friend.

My sister and her friend began chortling, as I went back to grasping the tear in my shorts. I made the rest of the walk home a quick one.

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