Her eyes widened with excitement as she stepped off the local tram onto the busy and breezy street. It was a new city, a new country and so a whole new collection of things! Things she needed, things she wanted, things she wanted but didn’t need and thinks she didn’t even know she needed.
The first time she had visited this street was with her parents, as her father excitedly showed them around the place without really going anywhere in particular. There were people walking around casually, a few waiting for buses and many more with assortments of shopping bags. She had made up her mind that day that she would go there alone one day with money to actually spend.
She saw many girls her age who were dressed so well that she pouted when she caught a reflection of herself in one of the shop windows. With simple jeans and a top that hugged her non-flat belly a little too tightly, she wasn’t really standing up to the appearance of these other girls. Her very apparent foreignness didn’t help her case of fitting in either. I’m gonna get some really cool new clothes and then I can also look like them in no time. She pulled her stomach in tight and looked straight ahead as her eyes scanned for the words “SALE” against the bright red background. Thank god they used the red color.
The first level of her favorite game began today with one of those large multi-brand department stores. From clothes, makeup and self-care items to stationery and food, these kinds of places had it all. If she had developed any skill to perfection in her life, it was the ability to spot the cheapest item in even the most crowded of stores. Her speed at scanning the item for its price could have even challenged the barcode scanner at checkout. She spent almost an hour walking through every aisle, taking in the variety of things that were available there.
The cheapest brand of makeup items summoned her and she ran her fingers through the most exciting products on display. After swiping five different lipstick shades on her wrist and three different highlighters on the back of her hand she stepped back and began the conversion calculations in her head.
The force of having to convert every single penny to Indian rupees was strong with this one. If only her math skills paralleled her skill at discovering the cheapest items. After a quick glance around to see if anyone was noticing her, the phone calculator came out.
A quick couple of conversions later came the next big step of debating which product was more worth the money. Following an intense stare down at both the products for a suspicious amount of time, she picked the highlighter off the rack and took a step back. But then… I’ve always wanted that shade of lipstick. So the highlighter went back and the lipstick came down. But I wouldn’t find cheaper highlighter anywhere else… So the lipstick again took its old place and the highlighter was once again in her hand.
She bit her lip trying to make up her totally indecisive mind and slowly dredged towards the counter scratching the lid of the product with her index finger. Though she had walked around and observed most of the store before settling on the makeup section, a rack of bright colored lotions caught her eyes as she walked to the counter. The huge red sign, which read “50% off”, pulled her in like a magnet. Picking up a product, she turned it around to check the new price and was once again torn between two products. But you could get both of them. You do have enough money.
She squeezed both the objects in her hand tight in exasperation. Ugh, but I need to save it for clothes! Maybe I don’t need either one of these. The shop attendant who was standing nearby noticed the strange girl who was staring at the products with vengeance and approached her warily.
‘Umm English?’ she asked.
‘Oh sorry, are you okay? Do you need any help?’ the attendant looked suspiciously at the products in her hands.
‘Oh no, I’m totally fine! Just looking. Thanks.’
She returned the lotion to its rack and hurried away from the attendant towards the makeup rack. The highlighter once again took its original place on the rack. Now the store felt oddly claustrophobic to her. She quickly started heading straight to the exit without looking back.
As she passed by the detectors at the door she cringed a little and then chided herself when no alarm was heard. Of course, it’s not going to ring stupid! You haven’t taken anything from the store! It was just another one of her irrational fears that rode up her anxiety level when she ventured out for her favorite activity.
She was annoyed at herself for being unable to make a decision and for looking like a complete idiot in front of the shop attendant. But at least all the money is still there, right? There’s probably gonna be better things to spend it on. She rolled her eyes at herself and moved steadily towards the next store that had “SALE” plastered all over its window.
Oh, yea it’s a clothing store, I’m going to buy so many cute things here! But the other part of her brain, which sat with calculators and constantly drew cost-benefit analysis, disagreed.
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