THE TRAILING TRUST
THE TRAILING TRUST7 mins 547 7 mins 547
The Diwali holidays had begun. It is a very rare incidence that my entire family gets to be together during any holidays. My daughter and I are in the same school. No, no, don’t get me wrong. I teach and she studies in the same school. So, both of us enjoy our holidays together. My son, who is an engineering student rarely gets any holidays. Whatever he gets is spent in either the magazine committee meets or the electronics club seminars or in doing voluntary work for an NGO with which he is involved. My husband has a busy schedule and works till late in the night. I can’t remember him taking a day off even if it is a Sunday.
But, this Diwali was different. It seemed as if all of us would be together. What a joy this difference gave us! The opportunity was speedily grabbed by me and I suggested, “Let’s all go to Jaipur and spend two days there. We can be back in Delhi for Diwali celebrations.”
“Wow! That’s a wonderful idea! Daddy, please let us go. You never take us anywhere.” My daughter promptly complained.
“I suppose we can all make it this time. In any case, I was wondering how I would keep myself busy in these holidays,” piped in my son.
The father now had no choice but to give his consent. Whether it was willingly or unwillingly, I haven’t been able to fathom till now.
Bags were packed, a van was booked, hotel reservations were made and off we went on a 5-hour long road journey to Jaipur.
It was the Dhanteras day. In the north of India, Hindus believe that it is auspicious to buy a precious metal on this day. Having lived in the north all our life, we too have started believing in this custom. Jaipur is famous for Kundan and Meenakari jewellery and so I decided that we should visit a jewellery showroom and buy a gold ornament not only as a shagun for the festival but also as a memory of our trip to Jaipur.
We weren’t carrying much cash as we hadn’t planned for any shopping in Jaipur. Buying a piece of jewellery had been a sudden, on the spur of the moment decision. Nonetheless, the credit card in my purse gave me a sense of security and I felt well equipped to set out on such a costly venture.
Jeweller’s shop was sparkling clean. It had been adorned with fragrant flowers. An intricately patterned rangoli embellished the floor right at the entrance. Dazzlingly beautiful jewellery caught and held my eye. Whether it was the ambience or my upbeat holiday mood or the festivity in the air, I know not, and I selected a pair of earrings for myself and wanted it desperately. The salesman took advantage of my keen desire to buy and said that the designs were new and specially made for that particular Diwali. He further added that the designs were changed every year. That was it. My mind was made up and I announced that I would buy the piece.
It was almost closing time. The cashier, the floor assistants and the sales-girls were winding up and were crowding around the check-out counter saying good-byes, exchanging pleasantries and wishing each other for the festival. I decided to make my payment partly by cash and the rest by using my credit card. I counted the cash from my purse and handed over the exact amount to my husband. Then, I took out one card. Payment denied—exceeding withdrawal limit. I discussed with my husband and we paid through the joint account card which I promised to repay once we got back to Delhi.
“Sir, may I take leave? A very happy Diwali to you and your family.”
“Hey, is it a holiday day after tomorrow?”
“Sir, can I have your credit card and ID proof, please?”
I started rummaging in my purse hoping that I would find something to serve as my ID proof and cursing all the while that even as a citizen of the country I had to prove my identity wherever I went.
“Ravi, can you drop me at the nearest auto stand? I don’t want to wait for the bus today. I want to get home very fast.”
“Same here. My wife’s going to give me a piece of her mind today. We haven’t even bought the Laxmi-Ganesh figurines till now.”
“Let me see what I can give you as my ID proof. I am a tourist from Delhi and I doubt I would be having any document to give you as my ID proof. No, wait a minute…my school ID card. There you go. That’s all I have.”
“Sorry, madam. You’ll have to give us your driving licence or ration card or election card as ID proof.”
“I’m sorry. I am not carrying any of those documents. I have already told you I am only a tourist in your city.”
“We can’t flout the rules for your sake, madam.”
“Wait a minute. What is the problem here?” intervened the shop owner.
“See you Dad. Go home. I’ll lock up and come. Don’t worry.”
“Sir, your cashier refuses to accept my ID proof…” and I explained the whole thing all over again to this new fellow. I was determined to take with me the merchandise that I had fallen in love with at first sight.
“We’ve closed down. Sorry, can’t take in any more customers”
“Here…May I see your document? Oh… it’s a teacher’s ID card. That too a teacher teaching in a school of such great repute in Delhi! Teachers cannot be cheaters. I have full faith in you, madam. Here is your packet. Please do visit us next time you are in Jaipur.”
I thanked the new fellow profusely and left the shop, glad that I had finally managed to buy the piece of jewellery despite all odds.
Amidst all this hustle and bustle, we paid the part-amount through our credit card, took our packet and left the shop. My guilt now pricked me that I had over-spent on myself. Yet I longed to wear my new earrings on Diwali day. I reasoned with myself that I deserved a costly gift as my husband rarely had time for pleasing his wife.
How could the children keep quiet when the mother has been indulging herself in such luxuries? They wanted to eat ghevar, the traditional sweet dish famous in Jaipur. We went into the mithai shop and ordered a kilo of the sweet to be packed. The shop seemed to be bursting at all its seams. The whole population of Jaipur seemed to have managed to squeeze itself into that tiny shop!
“Bhaiya, please give me one kilo of ladoos quickly”
“Bhaiyaji, I have been waiting for longer. You should give me a kilo of the pink burfi first. How long can I keep standing here?”
Someone sermonized, “Bhaiya, every year I tell you to get your people to line up the buyers. But you never seem to understand. Year after year it is the same scene at this shop.”
Amidst this din, I too placed my order to the nearest salesman in a low muted voice so as to catch his attention. I hoped to be serviced earlier on account of my calm and composed demeanour and my guess was absolutely correct. He gave me my box and I asked my husband to pay him as I did not want to open my purse in such a crowded place and offer a free peek to any miscreant around. Just as he reached for the money in his pocket, he discovered some extra cash. He asked me, “Did you pay the cash amount to the jeweller?”
It took us a few moments to recall the exact sequence of conversation in the jeweller’s shop. Soon enough we realized that we had left the shop with our packet after having paid the jeweller only a partial amount for the beautiful earrings I had purchased. Greed and malice grappled me for a split second and in a fleeting moment, it vanished. I could not bring myself to cheat a man who had reposed his trust in me.
“Do we have his telephone number? Let’s call him and find out whether we paid him the money or not.”
“Madam, your deal was finalized and we gave you the packet but if you do wish me to check, can I call you back on this number?"
“Yes, please do. I’ll be waiting for your call.”
The shop owner called up well after half an hour. We were already on our way back to the hotel which was outside the city limits.
“Madam, I was absolutely right when I said that teachers are our nation builders. You train thousands of students, give them moral lessons and instil good values in them. It is not possible for your clan to be hypocrites and not live what you preach. I will send my man and get the balance money picked up from your hotel. Thank you, madam.”
My chest swelled up with pride at my choice of profession and for what I had done that day. I was overwhelmed with the exquisite feeling that I had not robbed a Hindu businessman who believed that his business will flourish if he made good sales on the 'Dhanteras' day.