• 11 Nov - 17 Nov, 2017
  • Ayesha Adil
  • Fiction

Like everything comes suddenly in our lives out of the blue, Fawad’s planning was also so sudden on this ordinary Sunday, in our not so ordinary lives.

Fawad: I am taking you shopping today!

Saima: Good idea! I need to get groceries.

Fawad: No, we are going to get you clothes today.

Saima: I don’t need clothes. We need to eat. I need to get food. (I tried doing my best caveman impersonation. Give me my food!)

Fawad: Why haven’t I ever seen you drool over these designer sales that keep cropping up all over the city? In fact, I never hear you say that you want to buy the ‘latest’ anything.

Saima: As a wise man once said, “Are these things really better than the things I already have? Or am I just trained to be dissatisfied with what I have now?”

Fawad: Every conversation becomes an intellectual debate. Can’t you be like an ordinary woman for once? (Fawad chided playfully)

Saima: You would be tired of me pretty soon you know, if I was ordinary. Besides, you know that these brands are created so that people are duped into buying more and more. It’s a psychological mind trap. It’s worse than SAW and the JOKER put together. Marketing and brand imaging is pretty dangerous stuff.

I could tell that I was bugging him to the point of no return. I waited for his response.

Fawad: Hmm. That’s all good in the literary bubble that you live in. I know I’m always being compared to Mr Darcy there (chuckles). But I have decided that I will buy you all those gloriously expensive brands. Do it for me. Come on, humour me.

Saima: What’s gotten into you? You know I hate shopping. I just buy what I need and get out. I don’t have the patience or the temperament to stand there choosing and wasting precious time and money over brands.

I began to get annoyed now. Our money is so hard earned. I wouldn’t waste it on stuff that is three times or maybe four times its original cost. Plus shopping makes me dizzy. All the lights and patterns make me so confused. I end up buying the wrong things and having to go again to change it which results in wastage of more time and money.

Most times I would find myself drooling over antique jewellery that I can’t afford and imagining what I could wear with that beautiful pair of earrings.

Fawad knew I was happy the way I was. I wasn’t fussy and I thought that he liked it that way. My dressing style was bohemian. I always felt comfortable in my own skin. Just by wearing branded clothes would not necessarily make me a better person, wife, daughter or teacher? All that glitz and glamour and show would glaze the real me in an artificial shell. I was proud of the real me. I had struggled very hard to define myself and I was not changing for anyone.

Fawad: How do the other women do it? Spend thousands of rupees and just walk out without batting an eyelid.

Saima: I don’t know. Maybe they are empty inside and need these material objects to fill them up.

Fawad: You are being so judgmental Saima… tsk tsk. You don’t know their challenges.

Saima: That’s true, I’m sorry. But seriously, if I had that kind of time or money I would serve humanity. I would spend on charity and feed the hungry and clothe the naked. (I wanted to lighten the mood. I needed him to smile again.)

Fawad: Right now, I want to get you some clothes.

Saima: Okay, if you insist. But I will only buy what I want. What I like. Ok?

Fawad: Yeah, yeah, ok! Let’s go already.

I do not need to tell you how crazy a mall on a Sunday is. I suggested we do our grocery shopping first and then go to the stores in an attempt to get out of this, but Fawad was adamant. Nothing doing he said. I will make you shop till you drop.

Humph. Drop you will, dear. Drop this silly idea when you see the ridiculous prices on them tags.

As usual, I found myself gravitating towards the book store. Fawad as usual had to pull me away. “We are not here to buy books, Saima.”

I sulked away like a chidden child. If you have money to spend dear husband, buy me some books. Please…

Always the book worm that I was, I couldn’t help myself.

However, any amount of coaxing or arguing would not make him change his mind. What has gotten into him I wondered? Was it a male ego thing? His need to prove himself to the clan? Or maybe it was his way of showing he loved me. I would hold on to the latter. It was a more romantic notion, and definitely one to make me feel happy, even if the expression of love was slightly misguided. He knew he could make me happy by the littlest of things.

Generally, I felt Fawad admired my economical nature. We were such an average couple leading average lives. We were happy. Our fridge was full, our home was cozy. We never needed more. We were not competitive at all and for that reason I knew we were happy. Luxury for us meant an occasional dinner at a fancy restaurant or sometimes it just meant paying the electricity bill. Haha!

On a serious note however, we were doing really well. We could see the fruits of our labour and now was not the time to splurge our money into senseless consumerism, buying things we did not need. We didn’t need to give in to the demons of this age and time.

I had a game plan. I would pick up the most expensive dress in any random designer store and tell him that’s what I wanted. I’m sure he would give up on his persistence after that.

And worst case scenario I would buy something from the sale racks to appease him.

So we started our quest – our hunt, as I saw it.

Wasn’t it enough that ‘plastic’ was eating our generation? Everything around us was fake. Fake hair, fake faces, fake bodies, fake people, fake smiles, plastic people all around us. If we couldn’t achieve it literally we could use all kinds of filters but the end result would be the same, fake.

And what has it let to? Body shaming, body imaging, the looks, the perfect body size. At the other end of the spectrum, hair trends and make-up trends, the list was so long and tedious. Don’t even get me started on gadgets; then expensive vacations; the competition on houses and cars. Even education is not spared; the most expensive school, college, university. It made me so mad.

I didn’t need to join the bandwagon. I had kept my sanity because I refused to fall into the trap.

Untill now, I thought that Fawad appreciated me, admired me for my decisions. Why was he acting like this all of a sudden?

A sudden thought crossed my mind. Does he find me less attractive because I do not fit the bill? Is it that all the Barbie dolls prancing about have made me look less appealing to him? This was a horrifying thought and I had to ask. I had to know.

I turned around and saw him. He was looking at a particularly attractive outfit. I liked it too. Then I saw him glance at a few price tags and he turned to look at me. At that moment, I knew.

He was not falling into the trap either. And when his eyes sparkled as he shared a glance with me, I knew that all my irksome worries were in my imagination only.

He did not want those expensive brands just as much as he would never want me to look like a Barbie doll. He loved me for being me. Lesson learnt for us all.

“Let’s go and eat something shall we?” he asked.

“Let’s go,” I agreed enthusiastically. •