Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Invisibles

Entering the supermarket today, I heard an authoritative voice boom – “children not allowed here”. I naturally glanced around guiltily – I had brought both the kids to the supermarket before and had never been told of such a rule. Maybe this time I could somehow talk the security guard into allowing me to take the kids in.

But that remark had not been addressed at me at all. It was two kids, clearly of the worker class, who were being denied entry by the security guard. Their old and slightly scruffy clothes did contrast badly with the gleaming interiors the supermarket, but it did seem somewhat mean to deny them entry on those ground alone. After all, I visited the supermarket mainly because fruits and vegetables cost at least 10% less than they did at the nearest market – should people to whom that savings means a lot more than it does to me be denied the right to shop there? True, the management had the right to turn away anyone they did not deem suitable, but it somehow did not seem right either. But again, was there any guarantee that those boys would even buy anything. There must be cases of people who came only to gape and enjoy the air-conditioning, and if the presence of these people offended the sensibility of the target clientele of the supermarket, they management would feel compelled to turn them away.

But these two boys were barely ten – two days after everyone fell over backwards to make token gestures on Children’s Day, it seemed somewhat unfair to deny these boys something that was clearly a big adventure. But I was not in the frame of mind to try arguing with the security guard, so put it out of my mind and walked on.

A minute later, I saw the two boys skipping down the aisle. They knew exactly where to go and went there directly. Picking up a big box of cereals, they made for the checkout counter, paid and departed. Both were quite at home in the place, and must have invisibly visited earlier as a part of their ‘Madam’s’ entourage. It was only when they tried to enter on their own that they became visible and therefore undesirable.

I was glad they had stood up for themselves. But I still wonder how the security guard would have reacted if they had shown them a carefully hoarded ten rupee note with which they intended buying themselves a packet of potato chips. Would they still have been let in?

1 comment:

Bubbly Bala said...

that was a nice piece,makes one think.Why is it that we tend to judge a person by the clothes he wears.And why is it that we we always tend to suspect that shabbily dressed folks may pinch something off the shelf.Welldressed folks do brazenly do it too and get away with it because they are rarely watched


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