So, it’s a regular Monday. But instead of feeling all squirrelly at the prospect of a new, sparkly week (which happened I think, two decades ago), I’m feeling unusually lethargic. It’s a light day in office, so I think of leaving work early. I dream of reaching home, making some nice, green tea with lemon-grass and honey and watch the world go by. (Which, in Mumbai usually means – watch the world whiz by and suddenly screech to a halt, honk like crazy, and get moving again. Ah! City life!)
But of course, as I enter Bandra, my sleep has vanished. By the time the autorickshaw is at Khar and I spot the MANGO sale, all my dreams of a provincial arrangement have vaporized. I’m practically lunging out of the rick.
The MANGO sale, well…it’s awesome! MANGO is awesome! The clothes, the shoes, the tees, the scarves, the bags, the bikinis, the lacy stockings, the woollen coats, the leather skirts, the jewelled velvet pants, the satin caps – they’re just distilled finesse. Each one of them.
Now, something strange has happened since the last time I visited a MANGO store. I think it’s become cheaper. I wonder if it’s because I have more money now (by that I mean HA HA HA HA HA HA!) or if MANGO has reduced its prices. The new collection – clothes that aren’t discounted – seemed pretty reasonable too. Like there were these stretch, velvet pants in royal blues and plums, etc. that were only two thousand five hundred bucks. I mean, they’re comparable to say, stuff at Wills or Annabelle, and infinitely more chic.
And the bags! There was a bag in crushed leather in a delectable shade of caramel. The zipper was a smart, steel medallion and it had a soft, pliable handle. And this piece of art was for 1600 bucks or so! This is cheaper than a lot of those glossy, bright, cornea-searing totes you find in Esbeda and Shoppers Stop!
But what I was struck by was this pair of high-heels. It was a pair of pointy-toed shoes with strips of black, tan, and metallic leather sewn with bronzed thread. The sole was cupped in steel and the five-inch stiletto heel was in metal as well – right down to its slender, lethal, gorgeous tip. Usually, I don’t wear such shoes because I don’t get them in my size. But this one, that I bent and picked up reverentially like some holy chalice, seemed to be my size.
I actually held my breath while I slipped it on. Slowly. Tentatively. With a shivering hand. In front of a taunting mirror. And it fit! It fit! It. F.I.T!!!
In the mirror, I could see the reflection of a sharp marvellous heel that led up to a beautiful metallic cup that supported a canvas of exquisite leather art-work that made an ordinary pair of legs look spectacular. Not good. Not nice. But like the vision of a 100- foot-waterfall or a pine-forest-in-autumn kind of beautiful. Those legs happened to be mine.
And just a minute ago, they were these two ordinary limbs that I only used for walking. With these heels, man…my legs could be ammunition!
That these shoes were extraordinary is as newsworthy as saying that water’s wet. But just how extraordinary they were…now, that takes some thinking. Well, those shoes sort of shifted dimensions. When I put them on, it seemed as if the ground before me was layered with plush red carpet. The mirrors rose in height and got gilded frames. Ermine tufts nuzzled my neck and a glittering confetti of snowflakes showered the earth.
In those shoes, I could very easily walk into that world – into a topography and a timelessness that was unknown so far. I could be seated at a rhinestone-topped bar, crushing fine Belgian goblets and yet have poems embroidered in silk scarves sent up to my table. I could be anything but me.
The best part, however, was that this imagination-traipsing piece of wonder was at 70% off. It was for 1800 bucks…only.
I bought it. Of course.
Getting back to a more mundane world, I walked through Pali market to buy vegetables. Got some lauki, bought some milk. Entered my cute, small apartment. It was dark. I switched on the lights and opened the windows. Smoothed my turquoise couch, propped up the pillows on my cane sofa. Opened the fridge and started to put away the veggies. Thought for a little while about how I’m going to get through the rest of the month. I have to get my laptop repaired. I have a meeting with a gynac I can’t postpone. I have to lend some money to my cook. I have to buy groceries for the rest of the month. I have to pay off a big credit card debt.
I sat down and put on the shoes. The silver and tan, the black and bronze – they meshed everything that was elegant and sublime about life. Like poetry. Like art and music. Like a bubble bursting on a baby’s nose. Like raindrop on a lilypad. Like a woman tucking her eighty year old husband to sleep. The shoes glittered with tender smiles and soft tears. With rainbows and lightnings. These shoes were architected with everything that was good and fine in the world.
And they were at my feet.