Is the Grass Really Green on the Other Side?
was 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 away.
was 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
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 the background.
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 killer heat.
out 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
gold. One 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.
lady 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
costly 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."
awoke 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 store.
and 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
much 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."
tall 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 carried away.
tall,' 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 rich.
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 been