Anecdote about the generosity of a woman selling fish.
Think of me and I'll be present
full and bright or just a crescent
I had gone about a month back to Nolambur to buy fish. There's a string of fish shops there--stalls, if you will--all of them owned and run by women. They'll call out to you, and then, you're in this dilemma. If you're a polite twit like me, you'll even apologize for moving on to the next shop without buying.
I generally go right up to the end, and then decide which shop I want to buy from depending on what I want. This time, it was the last shop in the row. I couldn't help notice that this lady always had more customers than the rest. And as I chose what I wanted to buy, I realized it was because the quality was good, the price reasonable, and you didn't have to bargain.
It was evening time, and as I waited for her to clean the fish, I watched the Sun go down, idly hearing her talking to the guy who was helping her out with the cutting and cleaning.
"I started this stall as a challenge," she was telling him, "Didn't have a clue about selling fish. But now, I can clean the biggest fish on my own. I'm pretty good at it, aren't I? I just decided I must do it."
Jhansi ki Rani isn't the only one who was on the battlefield. Brave women everywhere, fighting battles. A brave woman.
We calculated out how much I had to pay her and she had no change. So she handed me a 50-Rupee note and said, "You can pay me the Rs. 20 later."
I looked at her, startled. This was my first visit to the shop. I lived alone and I need to buy fish, like, once in two or three weeks. I wasn't going to be coming regularly. And besides, we were headed for a lockdown due to Covid-19. I told her that I won't be coming this way for the next 2-3 weeks but she said, "Give me the money when you come."
Why would you trust a total stranger??
This wasn't the first time this had happened. I had been to T Nagar of all the places, so far away from home. And a vendor had said something along the same lines. "Pay me later."
How do they trust? How do you know I'd come back? I had actually gone back to T Nagar to pay the vendor. And now, this lady...
I didn't have any money left that day, I hadn't gone prepared for eventualities. Small stall owners don't take online payments. So I came back home.
But it rankled that I hadn't paid. Three weeks later, yesterday, I called my son, and he picked me up on his way back home. I was able to pay the lady for the fish. She was happy to receive the payment. And my mind was finally at rest.