Is the Grass Really Green on the Other Side?
walking down the main road, which was bustling with traffic. She waited to
cross the road. Her mind was relieved as she had just paid all the long
awaited pending bills. Suddenly, a
car honked loudly and she dodged in surprise to the corner of the road.
Wearily, she crossed the road. The approaching mid-afternoon heat made her
look longingly at the plush, air-conditioned mall. It looked like a
giant-sized monster and served only the rich.
smirked at the caption "For one and all". Thinking of it, she thought
wryly "What with the inflation and the prices skyrocketing, this caption
safely eliminates people like me"! She shopped for her groceries at the
corner store in her locality. All she had to do was, get down the stairs
of their tiny flat in the apartment and turn to the shop just few steps
convenient, easy and hassle-free. Not to forget, the reasonable prices
were an added bonus. The corner store was run by an elderly, kindly lady
who occasionally gave pretty decent discounts to the regular customers.
sweating and sighing ,thought-" Well, well, I could do with some
air-conditioning right now. I feel as if I have been steamed in a pressure
cooker". It would be grand to go to the supermarket, stroll quietly,
pushing the trolley listening to soothing instrumental music playing in
But, she reminded herself, that she had to go home, buy groceries, cut
vegetables, grind fresh spices and start cooking. She had almost reached
the bus stop to catch the 13 A bus, which stopped right outside her home.
Waiting at the bus-stop, she desperately longed to go into the mall and
shop. It would be fun to shop in the mall after getting cooked up in the
a small heart-shaped mirror from her bag, she checked out her toilette.
The mirror showed a pretty reflection. A big black bindi and smoky coal-coloured
kajal enhanced her beauty.
Adjusting her saree, she walked towards the supermarket. Thought not so
well to do, Sheila was always elegantly dressed, which made her friends
envious. A cool, welcoming breeze wafted over her as soon as she stepped
in to the supermarket. Her gaze swept over the huge rows of shining, giant
steel racks, neatly organized with all kinds of goods. With very
few customers, the supermarket didn't have much activity going on. A few
feet from the entrance were the cashiers at their counters, looking bored.
One of the cashier,was scrutinizing sheila carefully. Annoyed, sheila
glared at him rather angrily. With haste, she walked ahead and took the
first trolley as she thought of buying few vegetables. Sheila
couldn't help admiring the way everything was arranged systematically.
Pyramids of tetra-pack juice boxes and colorfully netted mesh holders with
chips packets, caught her eyes.
she walked ahead and she came across the "pulses" section. An assortment
of many hued dals were packed attractively. Rajma beans coloured earthy
red, looked triple its usual size, moong dal looked astonishingly green
and the kabuli chana looked like a fresh snow flake. Taking a packet of
moong dal,her eyes spontaneously checked for the price, a reflex action
which had resulted after many years of budget-management. She wanted to
make crisp moong dal ki vadiyan for her chidren. They loved the dish and
so did her husband, who found it particularly appetizing after a long
day's work at the office.
Horror-stuck at the price of the moong dal, she compared the price of the
dal to that of her beloved grocery store. There was a whopping difference
of ten rupees. Well, for a lady like sheila, who was not really stingy,
but didn't let even 25 paise to be spent unreasonably, this price was very
hard for her to swallow. She was about to put the packet back, and just
then as if from nowhere a girl dressed in the supermarket's uniform of a
gaudy ornage shirt and black pants appeared. The sales girl asked in
surprisingly good English" May I help you"? Sheila turned in surprise. The
sales girl ,with a smug expression, was looking at sheila and her eyes
kept darting between the dal packet and sheila.
Sheila immediately put the packet into her trolley and shoved it forward.
She was ,uttering to herself angrily-"Do they have salespeople to help
their customers or to embarass them??? will this girl stop following me
around"? Pushing her trolley to the next rows, she stopped abruptly as a
exquisite smell tingled her nostrils. She looked around and found the
odour emanating from the "PERFUMES" section. There were bottles of every
size and shape, with liquids of all hues ranging from aqua blues to pale
particularly caught her eye, as the perfume was being tested by the sales
girl on a customer at the perfume counter. The bottle was round and made
of beautifully carved glass with a jewel like cork to close it. Longing
filled her sensible and grounded mind, to possess the beautiful piece of
work with the lovely scented perfume. Sheila looked at the lady, who was
trying out the perfume on her wrist. The lady was tall, slim and dressed
in a lavish peach shaded, sequined saree. Her jewellery was minimal but
chic and overall, there was a general air of sophistication about her.
turned away from the perfume counter and her gaze met sheila's. Sheila
mused "She must be rolling in money. I wish, we could swap lives". Then
she thought of her loving husband and children, and felt guilty." It's not
that I am complaining about life, but some extra money wouldn't do any
harm to me." With this thought, she moved on, wondering where the
vegetables section was. Searching for it, she came across the "COSMETICS"
section. Here also the various sub-categories were emphasized neatly for
the shopper's convenience. "Herbal, biotique, gels, scrubs....."sheila
facial scrubs were arranged in a dominant position at the centre of all
the racks. They seemed to be in a emphasized position enough to woo its
lady customers. She looked at the label of a facial scrub which had on it
written-"for your gentle skin, we recommend this scrub ,which has the
goodness of apricots from the hills and walnuts grounded together, with a
hint of luscious orange."
a thought in sheila-"The description is more apt for a fruit salad at an
up market bistro."
Having always relied on home-made remedies for herself, this was all
fascinating to her. A mashed banana applied to the face for an hour, made
her skin satin-smooth and dewy fresh. On contrary to all the exotic hair
conditioners, her remedy for smooth hair was two eggs from the paanwallah
the white, beaten together, supplied her hair with all the necessary
elements. It made her hair ,bounce and shine, as good as the unbelievably sliky, straight hair of the skinny models shown in shampoo
commercials. Puffy eyes
were set right by the left over cucumber pieces from the afternoon lunch.
She was lured by the different range of cosmetics. slowly, she started
picking up different cosmetics and put them in her trolley. All cosmetics
individually served variety of purposes-some combated the age ageing of
skin, some made the complexion rosier, whereas special gels made dark
circles vanish, other creams gave a pearl-glow to the skin. For Sheila,
it was heaven to pamper herself once in a while. Initially, she scanned
whatever she put in her trolley, for the prices. But soon in a trance, she
forgot all about prices and budgets. As she was putting away one more of
those branded creams, she caught a glance of the time ticking away on her
wrist watch and panicked as it wouldn't be long before her children
confusion ,she reached the" Food section". Staring at the bright,
colourful packages and tastefully wrapped boxes of food, she stood
transfixed in the middle of the way. A huge, cuddly brown bear on a
chocolatey box of cornflakes was waving at her. In the noodles rack, a
happy ,healthy oriental family was grinning at her to" come and take away
the yummlicious noodles". The freezer was stuffed with frozen ready-to-eat
patties, puffs, tikkas, rolls, curries. Looking at the frozen french
fries, veg. spring rolls, she thought of her children's delight if these
would be their evening snack today. Happy at the thought and thinking of
her children's excitement ,she started loading her trolley with a frozen
food packet of each type. Superb, she thought!
Interrupting her ecstatic thoughts, a deep voice came from right behind
her, saying-'excuse me". Sheila, looked at the tall ,rich lady whom she
had seen trying the perfume on her wrist. The tall lady was helping
herslves to liberal packs of frozen chicken rolls, prawn cutlets and other
such ready-to-eat goodies. Wistfully, Sheila pushed away her trolley
towards the cashier counter. She had a slight, unusual feeling of envy
rising in her looking at the tall lady. She thought-"I am sure, she never
has to bother about electricity bills and school fees. It must be grand to
live like that."
lady's lovely saree, her hour glass figure obviously achieved at an out-of
the-reach hi-fi gym), the brimming trolley -all these made sheila
depressed. Rather forlornly, Sheila awaited her turn at the cash counter.
The tall lady, looked at sheila from a distance, thinking she was so
pretty and elegant in her cotton saree. Our tall lady mused-"She must be
very rich. The air of confidence and her elegancy is of a totally
different league. A league of people with bulging bank accounts and plush,
comfortable homes". Passing through the rows, our tall lady caught her
reflection peering back at her from a glass door. The image peering back
at her was of a half-starved, hardened women standing. Dressed in her best
saree from her limited wardrobe, decked with carefully preserved ,chic
imitation jewellery, she had achieved the look she wanted.
But, suddenly, the same image, upset her. A small voice inside told her
that being rich was not about pretty sarees and stylish jewellery. It
required panache, an elegancy which had little to do with what one wears.
The tall lady thought cynically;-"I am sure all this confidence and
panache comes from a whole lot of money stuffed away into one's account." She had
literally saved each and every extra penny to buy that saree worth eight
thousand bucks. Accumulating these savings over a period of 3 months, she
would get ready for her uninterrupted hours of glorious pretense-coveted
trip to the supermarket. Due to the bonus her husband had earned this
month, the coveted trip to the supermarket had come much earlier.
Clutching her semi-precious stones embedded purse, she headed towards the
second counter sadly, where she saw shiela standing.
herself was in a thoughtful mood. The contents of her trolley were being
billed by a rather bored looking cashier. The cashier in a robotic tone
said-"your bill is Rs.3895" Sheila felt
the earth beneath her feet had fallen apart when she realized that she had
tried to spend more than she had. In a micro-second, her self-respect was
blown to pieces and humiliation swept over her. Disallowing this to fog
her brain, she recovered quickly enough to pretend by rummaging her purse
and then said'-"I have forgotten my credit and debit cards at home. Could
you keep my purchases aside? I will pick it up in the evening or I will
send my chauffeur." And with
that, even without waiting for a moment, she walked away with ease and her
head held up high in the air. In her mind, she had come back to reality
and welcomed it, promising to herself fervently that she would never get
rich" lady had watched all this from a few steps behind with a melancholic
expression on her face, thinking-"Wow, this is called attitude,
confidence. The classy ease with which she spoke in the situation comes is
attributed to the fact of her being rich. She walked away unflustered
whereas I would have never been able to do that. What with all my
inferiority complex, its just not possible for me to do so!". Thinking
this, our tall lady, put out her precious savings of 2 months also a part
of her husband's meagre bonus) to take away home the lifestyle of the
BOLISETTY DIVYA 22 years old and ready to
colour the world with my stories. Writing is my passion. Though by
qualification, I am an chemical engineer and a banker
currently, my heart lies in literature. Passionate about reading since
when I was 6 years old, I have read different athors from dostoevsky to
sheldon,from agatha christie to kiran desai, but my favorite has always