Thimmi, 35, lived with her husband and two children in a one room tenement in a really crowded part of town. She worked two jobs to keep her family loan-free, and to provide them with three healthy meals each day.
Her husband, Selvam, was a dreamer, who spent his days planning new business ventures, or taking up odd jobs around town. Thimmi was a strict disciplinarian. She worked hard and saved every penny, kept meticulous accounts, and tracked every currency note that her husband spent. All financial transactions in the household had to be approved by her.
Needless to say, Selvam was terrified of her, but he put up with all her controlling ways only because he did not really have to worry about the family or its upkeep. He also secretely admired her grit and her attitude.
The one thing that truly irritated him was that Thimmi had this uncanny ability of knowing the moment he earned any money, even paltry sums from the odd jobs he took up from time to time . He was never good at lying, and before he knew it, he had usually surrendered all his earnings to the finance manager of the magic in-house bank, where money travelled only one way.
He yearned for the days before his marriage, when he could wheedle money out of his innocent mother, and spend hours idling on the river bank, smoking and pondering about his future and his dreams.
Thimmi was a force to be reckoned with and her sole focus, to the exclusion of everything else, was for her kids to be well educated, go to university and have good jobs that paid well.
Everything else in her life was designed to help her achieve this goal. She worked from dawn to dusk, with happiness and vigour. Luckily for her, the children were obedient, hard working and good at their studies.
On this evening, just like every other day, Thimmi was getting back home after a really gruelling day. Her back hurt, and she gently massaged her lower back, as she navigated the crowded market street and its cacophony of hawkers.
And it was then that Thimmi saw it – a beautiful mannequin draped in the most beautiful saree that Thimmi had ever seen. Its texture and colours called out to her, and on a whim she walked into the saree shop.
The salesgirl told her that this particular saree was called the Rim Jhim saree and that it was all the rage. Thimmi draped the saree across her left shoulder, and suddenly craved this saree for herself. She wanted to buy it then and there. Thankfully common sense prevailed, when she heard the price. It was worth three months of her family’s savings. She sighed, with both disappointment and relief, and walked out.
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But the Rim Jhim saree haunted her both in her dreams and in her waking hours. She walked to her safe many times to take the money out and indulge her craving.
“What have I ever bought for myself?” she reasoned. But somehow, she managed to control herself.
Some of her friends bragged about buying the saree, and all prime time TV soaps had many commercials that constantly advertised the saree.
One evening, when the temptation to buy the saree became too much to bear, Thimmi decided to do the most sensible thing. She took out all the cash from her safe, carefully counted the money, and put it in a bag and sealed it tight with tape.
Thimmi then walked to her children’s teacher’s house. The teacher had been very helpful to her and was almost like a mentor to Thimmi.
Thimmi decided that she would leave the cash bag with the teacher, and ask her to keep it till this crazy temptation in her head had passed.
The teacher was at home, and welcomed Thimmi warmly. She asked Thimmi to sit down and went in to get her a cup of tea.
There was a lot of noise of people talking and laughing in the room adjacent to the living room, where Thimmi was seated.
As the teacher gave her a cup of tea, Thimmi asked the teacher if a class was in progress, and if she was disturbing her in any way.
The teacher said, “Oh, no no….come with me.” And she entered the room, and Thimmi followed.
“This is my sister, Vasundhara, and she has recently started a saree business. I am sure you have heard of the Rim Jhim sarees that are in vogue now; fresh stock has come in just today, and the sarees are selling so fast.”
Thimmi clutched the money bag in her hand and ran out, saying, “I think you are busy, Teacher. I will come back some other time.”
What an escape that was! She was close to tears as she walked home, her life suddenly feeling empty.
When she entered the house, her two children were busy with their homework. She washed the day’s grime off with a quick shower, and started preparations for dinner.
When her husband walked in later that night and saw Thimmi, he sensed that something was amiss. His wife of ten years looked forlorn.
He sat down next to her, and she suddenly rested her head on his shoulders, looking defeated.
The two of them just sat there. He, trying to energize her, and she drawing comfort from his presence.
After a while, they sat down to a quiet dinner, each wrapped up in their own thoughts.
When he could bear it no longer, Selvam said, “Thimmi, don’t be mad at me, but there is a new opportunity for business. There is a saree in the market called Rim Jhim, and women are going crazy about it. My friend, Velan wants me to partner with him on this, but I would need to put in some money, Thimmi, please?”
Thimmi looked at him strangely, and went to lock the doors and put the coupons out for the milkman. She came back and sat down on the bed – that forlorn look back on her face again.
Selvam was puzzled. The normal Thimmi would have shouted or yelled or refused him the money.
Thimmi stretched and closed her eyes. Selvam went to switch off the lights and added, “The company is giving each dealer two Rim Jhim sarees, you know? You can come and choose one tomorrow, if you are ok with my going ahead with the deal. I promise I will be careful Thimmi, promise ok?”
And when he turned he saw Thimmi sigh and smile, a smile of pure joy. And she nodded and said, “Ok”.
Selvam switched off the lights, a puzzled look on his face.
Thimmi relaxed and was soon in nod land.