My grandfather was on his deathbed. He had lived a long and eventful life.
Did he have any regrets, I wondered, as I walked in to see him. His last wish had been to see me before he departed on his final journey.
His hand was raised, clutching something. It sparkled in the fading evening light.
I recognised it immediately. It was our family heirloom. A diamond necklace that had been passed down generations.
He held it out to me. My hands trembled, unable to reach out and grasp it.
Sensing my hesitation, my grandfather spoke. "This is for you, my child."
"Wouldn't it have to go to my brother," I asked.
"You're the eldest child. It should go to you."
"But, I'm a girl-"
"That hardly matters, does it not, in this day and age," he asked, smiling.
"I suppose not."
"Do you know how it came into this family?"
"It belonged to one of our ancestors who was rewarded for his bravery on the battlefield," I replied, trying to remember the stories I heard as a child.
"Not his. Her."
My eyes widened. "Who was she?"
My grandfather then told me the story that was passed down along with the necklace. Our illustrious ancestor was the wife of a general who served the king. She could fight better than most men yet that held no merit on the battlefield. Like most women, she too was forbidden from entering the male domain.
That changed after her husband died. She took her husband's title and presented herself to the king. The king, who knew of her martial skills, agreed to let her join his army. She quickly rose to become his most trusted general.
And one day the English invaded the kingdom. They had cannons which could decimate entire armies. The king rode out with his men and his general by his side. It was a battle that lasted a week. On the last day, as the English made a maverick attempt to surround and kill the king, the general fought her way through, killed them and rescued her king. That tipped the scales in their favour. Witnessing the bravery of their general, the men fought with renewed vigour and routed the English army.
The next day, the king rewarded his general with his most prized possession. A diamond necklace that was said to outshine the moon itself.
"This is the very same necklace," my grandfather said, completing his tale.
I gazed into it, mesmerized. It seemed to have little windows within, leading to different worlds. Held up by a glittering gold chain of an exquisite design, it was an extraordinary diamond.
"It has always been worn by the most remarkable women. Your grandmother and then your mother. And now it's yours."