The Shalwar that was never mine…

Two weekends ago I attended the first ever ‘Nikkah Bridal Show’ in Toronto, which is basically Suhaag bridal convention customized for Muslims. The main reason I went was to support a friend who is a professional cake maker. Also to meet up with other friends. As in every other brown/Muslim shows/conventions it had all the expected booths and vendors. I tend to gravitate towards the Indian/Pakistani clothing sections to see if anything catches my eyes. Lo and behold, one shalwar suit was calling out to me.

The colours were refreshing and the style wasn’t something I’ve seen before. I tried it on and loved it! Went back to the aunty at the booth and tried my luck at bargaining. She retorted once and accepted my second offer. I was happy and felt accomplished thinking my mom would be proud. Although in reality the aunty was just really easy and didn’t even put up a fight. I didn’t have cash with me so I told her to pack it up for me and I’ll come back later to get it.

Two things I should have done:
1) Given her a time so she’ll know when to expect me.
2) Given her my number so she could call in case she wanted to get a hold of me.

Unfortunately I did neither. Lesson learned!

I went about frolicking around the hall and then my friends and I went out for lunch only to return 2 hours later with the cash. I went back to the booth to see two girls( the daughters) sitting with the aunty. One of the girl saw me as I was taking out the money and started apologizing. She continued to explain as I stood there in utter disbelief and shock that they had sold the shalwar to another lady. This woman had looked at it and reserved it before me but the aunty didn’t know this. That lady had come back while I was gone and requested to purchase it. However, the aunty had tried to fend for me saying that I will be coming to get it. The lady had returned three times only to be rejected by the aunty who wanted to remain loyal to me. Anyhow, the luck just wasn’t on my side as I had taken a long time to return so they eventually sold it to this persistent woman who apparently walked around the booth like a hawk to see if I return.

Hearing this with dropped jaws I was completely heartbroken. I mean, I had already fantasized about what event I’ll wear the shalwar to. I had convinced myself this shalwar was mine. There’s a saying in Tamil, ‘Kayku ettunathu vayku yettala’.. Literal translation: what reached the hand didn’t reach the mouth. Basically, I came so close that I could taste it yet it slipped my fingers at the last minute.

The ladies tried to appease me by offering a discount on any other shalwar in their collection. I didn’t want it, the one I wanted was gone. I decide to go share my misery with my friend at her booth. As I was retelling the tragedy, another friend who was also listening said, ‘Imagine you see the women who bought it take it out .. What would you do?’ This reminded of the wedding dress episode from Friends where Monica fights with another woman over one dress. ‘If that happens I’d snatch it and run away.’ I replied still trying to swallow the bitterness of it all.
Not even two minutes after I said this, I see the woman, yes the perpetrator of my heartbreak behind my friends pulling out the shalwar from the bag. I let out a loud gasp and just pointed..no words were needed to express myself. My friends looked in the direction of my finger and immediately understood. It turned out to be none other than my friend’s family friend who snatched the shalwar of my 15 minutes daydream away from me right before my eyes. I would have been fine if I hadn’t seen who took it away from me. But to watch her take it out of the bag was salt on the wound and it bloody hurt! The conceited devil in me immediately thought that shalwar would definitely look better on me than her. Not that it mattered now … I consoled myself by the fact that I at least got to try it on. Eventually .. By that I mean after sharing this story with 10 other people I reached the zen state of acceptance that this shalwar was never mine and never will be.

How often is it that we go through the same cycle of emotions with material and immaterial possessions in life? With each let down, disappointment and heartbreak we’re supposed to become smarter, wiser and stronger… Right?

Anyway, there will be many more conventions and conferences with endless selection of shalwars.  One can only hope.

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