Last holiday season, I fell prey to a craven desire. It was as if I didn’t recognize myself. I was being irrational and impulsive. No amount of reasoning assuaged my restlessness. So I gave in. I needed to tell my husband, but at that moment I could not stop. I got ready in a hurry, threw away my cotton bag and rushed to the car with just a wallet in hand. I drove impatiently and sprinted into the mall longing for only one thing. I ran through the store, eyes flitting, peering at the shelves. At last, I found Michael —Michael Kors.
It was a beautiful maroon with a pronounced golden emblem screaming MK. I held it gingerly, feeling the smooth firm texture. I slung it on my shoulders and gazed admiringly in the mirror. We made quite a pair. Still in a trance, I paid the $300 to the jubilant saleswoman. Then picking up the object of my adoration I walked away. As soon as I sat in the car, I texted my husband politely thanking him for his very thoughtful gift.
“Look what you gave me! I excitedly displayed my new purse that evening. I ramp-walked up and down in the house for him. He mumbled an obligatory acknowledgement and went back to sipping his tea. I was too elated to mind.
Over the next few days, MK and I had many happy moments. At first, it felt a little awkward. Being seen with MK was a new experience. I had had cloth, jute, fake leather bags in the past. I was neither a fashionista nor a conscientious leather refuser. A bag was a purely functional object for me. It served as a sack to dump my daily needs.
But life with MK gave me a different perspective. I realized the role of a purse could be much more. I got a lot of unsolicited compliments from people. “Nice purse!” they would say. “What a bright color!” another would add. At first, it felt good. But then I started feeling uncomfortable. I was not used to this kind of pointed attention.
I felt eyes on me when I entered a room. In crowded buses, I felt defensive. Aunts coveted it. Neighbors envied it. Strangers stared at it. I began to question if MK and me were really suited for each other. I felt small against MK’s large frame, the golden unabashed two-lettered logo felt inexplicably heavy.
The novelty started wearing off and I began to treat MK with a little less respect. I had been carefully storing my phone in one pocket, keys in another and wallet tucked neatly in the middle. Now I began to dump things without restraint. A half-eaten muffin, old crumpled bills, my toddlers half eaten lollipop wrapped in a tissue, the artwork of my three-year-old—all found home in the far corners of my purse.
Then one day, I was in a hurry to meet a friend. I pushed my laptop, charger, a kindle, a tablet into MK. It was a bit too much. MK couldn’t take it anymore. On my walk back to the car, a handle ripped off and a big gash stared at me. I reached home and tenderly slid MK off my shoulders. I lay it on the bed and emptied the contents. It was over.
Then I opened my closet and rummaged through the drawers. Stuffed in a corner was my once discarded cotton bag—my jhola. I had purchased it in Ladakh—a hill station in India on our honeymoon. My husband must have put it through a laundry cycle. It looked clean and fresh. A simple white with soothing blue and pink embroidery. It had cost me Rs. 300 i.e. roughly 2% of MK’s price tag. It had a single flap with a press button that dutifully clicked to close. There were no compartments inside, just empty space to use in whichever manner suited me. The handle was long and comfortable. I slid it across my shoulder and let it hang against my hip. I looked at myself in the mirror.
Jhola and I looked happy.
Sandhya Acharya has worked in the area of corporate finance and is now actively pursuing her passion for words. She is a mother of two boys and a dance enthusiast living in Santa Clara