Rachna Singh
Saturday, 12 January 2019

Now, the girls had not gone missing. They were JUST fine. They were not to be seen because they were in the malls — it’s the S.A.L.E.

The girls have gone missing. Poof! Just gone! Where are they? Has there been another conspiracy against the female gender? Do we need a new campaign to save the girl child and those that are still dressing as the girl child? 

As it seems, I was getting worried for no reason. I just have this worrying streak in me. I worry for all sorts of things: Why is it so cold these days? Will my kids fall sick? Should I make them wear more sweaters? Are five sweaters unreasonable? And, so on.

Now, the girls had not gone missing. They were JUST fine. They were not to be seen because they were in the malls — it’s the S.A.L.E. season! In the last few weeks, most shops have been putting up huge red-coloured signs announcing sales. Most of them say ‘Flat 50% Off’. And ‘Flat’ means ‘Just Kidding’ or  ‘Gotcha!’ or ‘It’s not’. Because when you really dive into the racks, the only thing that’s actually 50% off is a raggedy blue dress with a lipstick mark on its sleeve. 

And the one that you actually like, has only 20% off. That is, if you buy two more dresses from the same rack, or go to fifth floor to confirm with customer services if ‘jeans’ qualifies as a dress. You will get another 5% off if you do a handstand. 

After each such sale, we sit and swear on the fries with (fat-free) mayo, that we’d never go to a sale again. ‘The sales are such shams’, we lament.

But, our collective resolve is about as firm as that week-old lettuce on that salad no one has touched. So, soon, we shall be spotted charging towards those red-coloured sales signs much like bulls towards red cloths. We don’t really learn.

Now, the sales season requires one to be physically fit and emotionally strong. You can’t just get up one morning and say, ‘Hey, I think I’ll check out that sale today.’ You need to ask your doctor first. Preferably, go through a comprehensive medical check-up. In fact, there should be caution notices outside the malls, like they have at the entry of extreme roller-coasters: people with high blood pressure, a previous heart attack, an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator should not enter.

The good thing is that while wading through clothes, pulling a jacket from the rack milliseconds before crazy-salivating-co-shopper does, and collapsing in the trial room, you bump into old friends. Some look just the same and some have changed. Like, Amita who used to be Amit back then and wore boys’ clothes. She is trying out a lehenga now. It’s so wonderful to update yourself.

There are unpleasant moments too. The ‘last pieces’ section has that most amazing dress you always wanted, but in a size smaller. You try it on — reckless hope taking over sanity. Emergency services are needed to cut you out of the dress.

And, then while looking for a dress for your daughter or a friend in the S section, the friendly salesman, noticing your girth, announces, loudly: ‘XL is over there, ma’am.’

You want to strangle him with Amita’s duppatta and take out Flat 50% wind out of his lungs.

(Bestselling author Rachna Singh is a sit-down comedienne)

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