The Yen Age

Binu stared at her beautiful image in the mirror” I am so beautiful”, she told herself. A chuckle came to her as she remembered the TV commercials of beauty products . Khubsurti Jo Asman Chu Le. Beauty is Power. Aaj Ki Nari Ho To xxx Saboon Lagao. These commercials had taught her about the world. She had learnt that it was uncivilized and ridiculous not to smear beauty creams or to buy luxury goods. She felt ashamed to think about the days when she had used turmeric, curd or Beson on her skin (“Leela the rustic still uses them.Ccheh! Uncivilized!”). But the days have changed. Most of the people in the village are ashamed to call it a village. “It is just like a town” they say. The boys do not want to become farmers. Most of them are jobless and sometimes they sell their lands to buy motorbikes. Binu’s neighbor Suren sold a strip of land to buy a lot of things for their newly built RCC house. The twenty four inch colour T.V that liberated Binu was among them.

Binu was still staring at her image when she heard a motorbike crossing the road. This sound brought thrilling anticipations to her mind. Her life is soon going to change. Her mother works as a domestic help in other’s houses. The meager income is not sufficient even to eat properly. Yet she fights with her mother for money to buy cosmetics. Even if you starve, you must look fashionable. Especially if you want to prove that you are not a villager. But Binu’s old fashioned mother doesn’t understand these things. She doesn’t easily give money to Binu. Binu often laments being born in a poor family (She did not realize how poor they were until the people in her village suddenly became fashionable; as fashionable as the people on T.V and cinema). But now things are going to be okay. Her days of despair are soon to disappear. No longer will she have to be ashamed of not having enough money to buy things that are so important to prove one’s respectability.

Dinesh impatiently looked into his watch. Ten past nine. She was to come at eight. Has anyone found out their plan? Has she changed her decision to elope with him? The bus to Guwahati leaves at half past nine. If she does not come his life will be in tatters. He borrowed Vimol’s motorbike to go to the bus station. There he would leave the bike in Vimol’s shop. Then he and she would take the bus. But it seems…..Oh…there…there she is. He started the bike without saying a word and signaled her to sit on the rear seat.

The bus left exactly at half past nine but not without them-thanks to the bike. “Now we will lead a stylish life, in the city,” She said giggling as she adjusted herself in the seat. “Yes,” he said smiling “I have a good income and from now onwards you can buy whatever you want. New dresses, cosmetics, everything.”

Binu wanted to go to her lover’s house but Dinesh told her it would be improper until they got married. Hence he would take her to his aunt’s place where she could stay till their court marriage.

Aunt Rekha was a middle aged woman. She heard their story compassionately.” Don’t worry Binu. I will be your mother here.” Her maid took Binu to a room. “This is your room.” Binu was impressed. What a beautiful dressing table….She was glad to finally get out of the terribly boring village. She was grateful to Dinesh who took her out of shameful poverty to a life of respectability.

Outside the room Dinesh asked Rekha, chuckling, “How is she?”

“Good! She is a nice girl. Any man would be glad to have her. I am proud of you and your choice.”

As Dinesh was coming out of Rekha’s house, his mind was full of joy. He slid his hand into his pocket and felt the touch of fresh currency notes. Seventy thousand rupees he just made can easily buy him a bike of his own. What a beautiful time we are living in-he thought. Every commodity, every pleasure is available in the market. It is all about buying and selling. If we want money to get social status we can sell any commodity worth consuming.

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