September 02, 2002

Window Shopping

She sees this wonderful new dress in the shop across the street. The shade would just match her complexion perfectly and its cut and stitch look exactly like what she has been wanting for a long while now. Displayed in all its simple glory on the shop window, the dress charms an otherwise mundane existence of hers. Oblivious to the world, she crosses the street and makes straight for the shop window, with each step the design and the detailing gets clearer and more striking. She holds her purse closer to her body, lest some petty thugs should hold her back from effecting the valuable transaction that would make the dress her own. Having left the little yellow line that divides the street behind her, only a few steps now separate her from the dream dress.

The fleeting moments lifts her, carries her across the pavement and into the shop, everyone notices the magical connection instantly. Whispers fill the air that the gown would look great on her and yet another voice hushed with amazement says it looks as if it was made for her. Her gaze is fixed on the dress, the rest of the world ceased to exist for her at the very moment she saw the dress. Few more moments fall by and she is inside the dream gown. The sight of the most attractive woman filled the eyes of the people in the store and a fairly large crowd was gathering outside too. The city was slowly being held captive by first the news and then the sight of the woman and her wonderful dress.

She makes her way home through the narrow passage the crowds created for her, takes the final left and into the shabby street she goes. She opens the rusty gate and once inside the house she is received by her overjoyed family. As the evening wears on, the crowds disperse, forming little clusters of excited chatter at every street corner seasoned with the drowsy flavour of the sights of the day. She settles down the steady beat of kitchen sounds that announce the preparation of dinner for yet another autumn night.

As she wanders in the kitchen, to her utter despair, a bit of her gown gets caught in an unvirtuous nail. With a tearing sound a wide gash was introduced on the surface of the wonderful cloth and with it her heart missed a beat. In realising what had happened she had missed a few more and in the panic she twirls around, knocking the oil lamp from the window sill, which falls on the dress and sets it ablaze. The greasy water did put out the fire, but the dress was burnt, torn and stained. Its glory was scarred, scalded and lost forever. When she stepped outside no one recognised her, they wondered what happened to the woman and her wonderful dress. She stood there silently mourning her loss.

A curt voice startles her, making her drop her purse and from it her only coin rolled down the street. The voice, once again, startles her back to reality. It was the shop's security guard telling her to move away as it was closing time. The shutters had to come down and she was in the way. As she contemplated the lonely walk home after the loss of her only coin, she notices the price tag on the dress. A truckload of those evasive coins would not have gotten it for her. She smiles at having lived the experience of owning, celebrating and losing the dress at the cost of a single coin. She pushes her unruly locks back behind her ears and makes for home.

Window shopping comes cheap these days.