CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR: SHOPAHOLICS

She glared at him every opportunity she had but he hardly looked up at her and spent the day reading. Around the noon, he opened the door of the bedroom where she’d sat sulking all day and approaching her cautiously, told her, “I am going shopping. Are you coming?”

She stared angrily at him in reply, even her plush cheeks tightened and reaching for the notebook she’d kept next to her for the purpose, she scribbled fitfully on it and taking it to the fridge where he followed her resignedly, plastered it onto the fridge. “Yes” she’d written in horrifically scrawling gigantic letters but he calmly stepped forth and reading it, said “Good” and left the room. She fumed and raged that she was unable to provoke him.

He found him getting ready in the hall with casual concentration, not at all paying heed to her rage. If anything, he bore a whimsical expression on his face, for in fact, he’d decided that he wasn’t going to give in and pander to her. She must learn to behave rationally, he’d argued with himself.

“Ready?” he asked her. She could not reply.

“You plan on going shopping in your night gown?” he asked her.

She turned around haughtily and slammed the bedroom door and started to wear something more presentable. When she stepped outside, he saw that she was wearing a printed cotton white sari with a black blouse. He raised his eyebrows involuntarily for it had stuck an effect in him. He thought she looked beautiful in sari and would have commented on it for the dress brought out her heavily lashed, big, doll like eyes and her messy looking, unarranged fluffy hair too. She was shapely of form with delicate curves and her hips always looked stunning in sari but though awestruck, he maintained a passive exterior and with a flourish of his hands, he showed her to the car, locking the door behind him. It was then she gave a startled expression and opening the car came to him and stretched her hands angrily for the key.

“What?” he asked.

“The key, I forgot my purse”.

“That’s okay. I have the credit card” he told her but she interrupted him halfway with, “I want my purse” and handing her the key, he went and leaned on the car with a weary face. She stormed into the house and came back with a juvenile looking, teddy bear purse. He almost snorted in mockery, but seeing her flashing eyes, reserved his comments to himself. They made their way to the departmental store where he told her he was in the habit of picking up groceries.

“If you want to go anywhere else, tell me” he told her patiently but she just gave a contemptuous “Ha” and turned away. When they reached the place, Jennifer, who was fond of driving around, was in a sort of a trance, being carried away as she always was when she was travelling. He stepped outside but she did not get out and going round to her side of the window, he rudely knocked on the sharp glass and she hastily got up, infuriated beyond words at his sharpness towards her.

“I hate you” she muttered whispering close to his ear, as they ascended the steps for the departmental store.

“How nice” he promptly returned. Oh, why couldn’t he just fight with her, she desperately thought to herself. At the store, they parted ways and he went around picking up routine, day to day requirements while she gasped at every shoe section and fondly beamed at the dough material and Barbie dolls in the kid section. Jennifer unfortunately was a shopaholic and on the very day he had decided to take her shopping, she had fought with him. It did not matter to her what she bought, but the rush of that inexplicable joy when she took a brand new thing from the shelves and made it hers was unutterable and today, she heartily cursed herself for her rashness. At one section, she just could not avert her eyes from a very pretty handbag. It was a jeans bag, just something she’d been dreaming about for days together and it had silver incomprehensible letters and phrases written all over it.

“Awww...” she sighed. How pretty it looked, she gently took it off the shelf. It had a nice round shape to it with a dainty little black satin bow on it and she just fell in love with it. She frisked around frantically for the price tag.

It was 999 rupees and looking inside her purse, she found she had only 670 and her heart broke. She placed it back pitifully and stood long, staring at it with one head leaning fondly on the right side. It was a sweet moment, almost as if she were beholding a long lost love. Then rousing herself unpleasantly from the reverie, she shook herself sadly and started to ramble aimlessly through all the stalls. At that very moment, her husband had caught her tearing up over the handbag as he paid his bills, the cam had shown the scene and she joined in bitterly, too weak to even fight with him, her love and pain at parting the bag greater than his imagined callousness towards her. They silently got into the car and made their way home, throughout which journey she look down intently upon her nails. When the door was opened, she slumped down into the armchair and stared desolately out the window. For a long time, she did nothing else, oblivious to everything else around her. At lunch time, she got up and feeling hungry, decided to make some lunch. Opening the cupboard, she saw it half empty. There on the fridge read another note: “Groceries on the dining table” and she wound her way to the dining table where besides the plastic bags which contained the groceries, stood her heartbreakingly pretty jeans bag. She felt someone standing behind her and turned around with an uncertain expression on her face.

“That’s not a make up present for I am not going to make up to you for all your tantrums. That is a ‘don’t stand crying at the departmental store’ reminder” he said, with a suppressed smile and she bit her lower lips, looking sadly down.

“I told you I was sorry” she told him defiantly.

“So you did” he answered.

“And I don’t hate you. I can’t ever hate you and that’s just not because you brought me a silly bag”.

“Didn’t look so silly where you stood there pining at it” he told her, advancing musingly towards her and she laughed, crying simultaneously.

“If I had a nickel for every time you cry, my dear.”

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