Lakshmi took out the wooden box almost fearfully from beneath the mounds of clothes in the cupboard, where she had hidden it out of sight. Her hands lingered over the latch for a moment before she opened it and emptied it on the table. ‘I hope I have enough,’ she thought ‘I want it so badly.’
Carefully, she counted the bunched up currency notes and the coins that she had saved. Drop by drop. The money she had saved from the amount that her husband gave her for the household expenses. She had tried to cut down unnecessary expenditure and save as much as possible. She had many a times fought the urge to buy groceries from the nearby mall, and had gone to the neighborhood fair-priced shop instead. She had resisted the temptation to buy that new set of plastic jars for the kitchen. She could always buy that later. Now, she wanted to buy that beautiful imitation jewellery set for herself – the one she had seen in the gift shop a few months ago. She hoped it would still be there and would not have been sold out. There had only been one piece available. ‘Designer piece, madam,’ the clerk at the shop had told her.
Lakshmi had gone to the gift shop to buy a card for her husband for his birthday. And then she had seen it. A beautiful choker necklace and matching earrings. It was beautifully crafted, exquisite. Made of white pearls and white stones, it had looked royal. She had picked it up and looked at it affectionately. She had fallen in love with it at first sight. She had run her fingers over it admiringly and looked at the price tag. Rs. 585, it had said. Her jaw had dropped open. That was too high a price. At least for her. Suddenly her heart felt heavy. She wished she could be like those ladies they show in TV serials. The ones who are always prettily dressed up and who seem to have no other job except going to kitty parties. She wished she belonged to the aristocratic class and not to the middle class. She wished she would never have to think twice before buying anything. Suddenly her name, Lakshmi, seemed ironical to her.
She knew she had been standing there and holding the jewelry box in her hands for too long when the sales clerk approached her. ‘Yes madam, shall I pack it for you?,’ He had asked. And she had come out of her reverie. Face to face with reality. ‘No thanks. I will come later,’ she had said. She had placed the box back on the shelf, throwing one last loving, lingering gaze at it. In that moment, she decided she would buy that set for herself. She would work hard at saving for it. She had paid for the card and exited the shop.
And now, she hoped she had saved enough to buy it. And she hoped with all her heart that it had not been sold. The last time she had passed by the gift shop a week ago, she had seen it in the display case. She crossed her fingers and began counting. Her savings amounted to Rs. 605. Just enough. Her face lit up and she got ready to go to the shop.
She walked down to the shop anxiously. She had barely reached the shop when she saw the set she so adored in the display case. So it had not been sold after all, she thought. Luck was on her side. Maybe it was meant for her. Waiting for her to come and buy it. Maybe it was meant to adorn her throat. She smiled at the irrational thoughts and entered the shop.
‘Good afternoon madam,’ the clerk at the counter wished her. She wished him back and picked up the box lovingly. Finally, she was going to buy it. It was going to be hers. A sense of joy filled her.
She was just about to ask the clerk to pack it up for her when her gaze fell on it – the leather business planner. She put the jewelry down and picked up the planner. It contained a diary, a pen holder and a visiting card holder. Just the right thing for her husband. He often complained of lost visiting cards and pens. His absent minded nature caused him to miss appointments. Sometimes his work had suffered due to this. This would be just the right gift for him. He could keep all his contacts in it and also plan out his daily schedule. She knew he had been planning to buy one for long, but had never got around to it.
She smiled. Poor thing, he would never buy anything for himself. Would always put his family first.
She looked at the price. Rs. 600, the label said.
She thought of all the love her husband had showered on her. She thought of the smile that would light up his eyes when he saw her gift. In a split second, a decision was taken. Love won over temptation.
‘Please pack this planner for me,’ she said to the clerk. In a few moments, she was out of the shop, clutching her precious parcel close to her heart, which was full of love and satisfaction, of a decision well taken.