This article has been submitted by Tanisha Khaitan for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.
After six months of self-imposed confinement, Avantika felt different on coming out in the streets and haggling with the vendors in her old manner, not good but different. She was standing at the kiosk of an aubergine seller. She had chosen aubergines, she had to, they had been Ramesh’s favourite.
Finally, she succeeded in bringing the price down from Rs.30 to Rs.20 for the vegetable and feeling surprisingly amused by it turned homewards. Her mother had always remarked on her penchant for bargaining.
* * * * *
After trying with three keys from her bunch of keys she unlocked the door with the fourth one. Such forgetfulness had become a habit with her for the past months. The voice incessantly resonating in her mind did not, would not, let her focus on anything. Her mind reiterated the words again now and something struck her- bargaining, that was what it had been. Ramesh had bargained with life and failed. Though always pedantic about everything she had not disciplined him in the nuances of bargaining.
“I would give anything to get to the airport on time and aboard the plane,” Ramesh had stated as he had hastened out of the door with his untidy suitcase, to catch a plane for attending to some urgency at work. No, you should not say that, thought Avantika. You should not offer everything at the first go. The trick lay in offering the minimum so that whatever the final deal be, it did not result in a loss.
All this time Avantika had questioned the rationale of taking Ramesh away, at such a ripe age too. Now, she understood. In his ignorance, he did not notice what he was putting at stake. He should have known that Life was a shrewd bargainer and Death a greedy buyer. Dubious statements do not work with them, what is required is precision and nonchalance. Eagerness works against you, it reveals your weakness,. Undermine their importance, threaten them or they will surely get the upper hand.
Sitting down in an easy-chair, Avantika thought and thought. Was the work call really so important as to give everything in exchange? No, nothing was that important. She smirked and then felt a sheer pang of guilt. It was the irony that made her smile. He had got what he had asked for. He had boarded the plane, well on time but what a fatal carrier it was- blasted and thrown away from its path even before it took off.
It was not just his bid that had been wrong but even the object of bargain was a fallacy. Did he have any use of that ominous plane? Struggling for needless and dangerous things had never done ant good. You do not waste time arguing and bartering for irrelevant things, there was always so much more to save for, to hope for.
He had always been an asinine buyer, like the time he had got duped while buying flowers for her hair. This time too he had involved himself in a costly bargain, a treacherous bargain.
Avantika went and sat on the windowsill. Looking out into the dry afternoon air she felt the burden of her doubts fading away…..