Every step on the onyx stone came with memory, heavy and lifeless. Marble pillars, a gold and silver roof, painted glass, all in elaborate modern design. The old world trillionaires had indeed indulged in their lavish museums. They were unlike the petty billionaires of the more distant past. They understood raw, unadulterated extravagance. Modesty and her atoms could not touch them.
“This wing holds in it, India.” He had become annoying. His voice a remnant of a world filled with posh dinners and aristocratic smells. The last curator on Earth, Giovanni Milliano, had not yet woken up from his dream.
“I am fascinated by the inexplicable diversity of India. Like the Amazon. One small patch in the land and you can hear a thousand words from a thousand distinct languages. So,” he whirled his hand, “ ‘garība’ . . . means ‘rich’ in punjabi.”
I wondered if he knew what he was saying. Many had spoken of Mr. Milliano as a man well versed in royal pleasantry and pseudo intellectual discourse. His confidence and personal backstory mythos made the affluent cautious of him, some even afraid. No one, at least in public, would ever challenge him. His words knew how to play tongues not his own, both in the biological and technological worlds. That is how he got to own the new ‘Metropolis’.
He kept speaking about the history of the wing, its construction, and the glass used to “protect” the artifacts. Seldom did he speak of anything behind the glass. Then we arrived to the end.
“And here is the most prized possession of this hall. Probably the most valuable thing in this sanctuary, maybe even in this city. Of course, aside from the Mona, or the Stone.”
I spoke. “Why is it here?” I did not waste any more breath.
“What do you mean, here? This is the Hall of India.” His smug look was gentle, surprisingly human.
“That is a crown. The Crown of England. Stolen by Princess Robin.”
“You must be young. That is no crown. That is the Koh-i-Noor.” He looked again at the now-artifact, as if looking at the bones of a dragon.
“It is also a crown. Stolen and sold to the highest bidder.” A pause. “Shame it wasn’t given back to the Indian people, to -“
Milliano interrupted, coldly.
“That which is stolen can never be given back. It must be stolen again. I am its keeper now. And don’t insult the people of India. This does not belong in the nearly empty English Hall. It belongs here.”
He went on.
The diamond was beautiful.