When I received a corporate pat-on-the-back (with a financial award), my mother suggested that I spend it on jewelery instead of frittering it away on clothes, books and shoes. Mum still believes in jewelery being a good investment. It took months but I finally agreed. I went diamond-shopping.
It was not the first major purchase I’ve ever made, not even the first time I’ve bought jewellery. On my first job, I saved up to buy my father a new cellphone and my mother, a diamond ring. That was a funny feeling. A memorable feeling, a funny one and one I’ll treasure all my life…the exhilarating thrill that comes from being able to buy something for the people you love, who have provided for you, all your life.
But when I went big-purchase-shopping again, a few years later, it just was different. A different kind of different. Inside my head, despite all the freedom of financial independence and mental release, my liberation has a few gaps in it. Like little stitches still binding me to old ways of being, long after I’ve snipped away the life I want to wear.
Diamonds are usually received as gifts, not bought for oneself. Gifted by a man…a father, a brother, a lover, a husband. If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, it’s because those sparkly stones carry the monetary value that they were bought for, but also the power of being cherished and indulged by men. For years, diamonds have been financially tangible tokens of men’s allegiance to those women. They continue to be so.
Only, these diamonds don’t represent the men who lavish their affections on me. They remind me of everything that I’ve worked for and achieved. The power to buy a diamond as well as the right to wear one that is truly my own. It’s just odd how long it took me to accept the feeling. To not feel guilty about lavishing it on myself, not feel obligated to spending it on someone else or something more important/intelligent, not wonder if brandishing my economic power made me seem like even more of a man-hating feminist than people usually accuse me of being.
It took me a long time to accept that it was okay to buy a diamond for myself and feel good about it. Newfound power doesn’t come easy; it’s scary. I actually took about a month, after agreeing to actually bring home the diamonds. I browsed online for different brands (and read a great deal about blood-free diamonds). I contemplated the merits of a pendant-and-chain versus a ring. I visited several stores and compared prices. I sketched out designs and pored over them. I considered local ‘known’ stores versus big jewelery brands. And finally I went and picked up a pair of earrings. Tiny diamond chiplings fashioned into three petals, with a thin golden stem wound around them. I did it all on my own.
Then I wore my new earrings to work the next day. For about ten minutes my entire body hummed in excitement, wondering if anyone would say anything. Nobody noticed anything different, no one even tossed the odd compliment my way. But suddenly, I realised, I didn’t care. I knew and that’s all that mattered.
I’ve had the earrings for a couple of years now. I wear them when the outfit and occasion suits them. But sometimes, just because I want a reminder of what I can do for myself.
Movies are a complicated business these days.
There is the hysteria of the Fridaygoer who will all but maim in a bid to get to the box office first and then spend most of the movie updating his Facebook status from his phone. Then there’s the desperate reek of a Saturdaygoer who didn’t get any party invitations, doesn’t want to spend over a grand at a pub entry fee and will spend it instead on overpriced, stale multiplex food watching what everyone else pretended to watch the previous day. And of course there’s delightful Sunday characterised by screaming kids and loud aunties yelling popcorn orders to their husbands in the aisles. Weekdays used to be saner but now thanks to the kuttewaala network, Tuesdays are a mad melee of excitable collegians! That leaves Mondays when it’s too early to legitimately enjoy anything in this workaholic city. Wednesday is the sole movie night for the sane-and-wanting-to-stay-that-way.
Of course even this elaborate (and much elaborated-upon) decision complicates manifold with the arrival of the significant other. It quite makes one wonder what one ever thought one had in common with the other and exactly what the stuff of those endless conversations must have been. Do men change post-relationship or do we both?
Take this week’s movie date. The weekend scan of the listings had us at a standoff at the box office. Perhaps that’s why, in sheer desperation (or lack of foresight…we’re waiting on that one), the boyfriend rashly offered a compromise,
I’ll watch Eclipse with you if you’ll come for Predators!
Much to his amazement, I nodded. He hasn’t yet learnt about how patient even this impatient one can be….it’s early days, after all. Not a minute wasted, he rushed off to get the tickets. A few minutes before we entered the hall, better sense appeared to have prevailed and he asked (in a super-hopeful voice),
“You were just kidding about wanting to watch Eclipse, right?”
I fixed him with a don’t-you-dare look. So he tried another tack. (*Sigh* I keep telling the boy to learn to die gracefully)
“If you like this movie, it doesn’t count, okay!?”
“Predator for Eclipse. We had a deal, dude!”
And suddenly, the man next to me shook his head violently and addressed the boyfriend.
“You DON’T even want to think about it! Such a waste of time!”
Before I could glare at the boyfriend, rap strange man on head for butting in or yell ‘foul!’, they two had launched into a comparative bashing of Aisha and Eclipse. When they finally broke it up, boyfriend grinned back at me triumphantly and said,
The masses have spoken, see!
My characteristic ‘as-if’ eyebrow shrug before I said,
Thank your stars I didn’t ask you to watch SATC2 with me. Now let’s get this over with.
I sat through the movie without comment. And when the lights came on, he had to admit that it really hadn’t been a very good movie, after all.
Weekend booking plans start now. I’m going to wrangle a double-or-nothing deal out of this one. SCORE a point for the lady!