The man stood outside the door, restless. Pacing back and forth. Glancing inside the shop once and walking for a few minutes then pausing to look in and again resuming his pacing.

His hands were in his coat pockets. He brought them out only to rub them together sometime and then blow onto them before stuffing them back into his pockets.

He had a wrist watch on his right hand, one with a broad black belt. He would flip his hand, narrow his eyes, and study it now and then, while his face remained solemnly distressed.

Mrs Iyer was waiting at the bus stop opposite, and watching him for quite a long time. Her glasses kept slipping off the bridge of her nose and she pushed them up as she continued staring at the man outside the shop from the corner of her eyes.

Finally she breathed a sigh of relief as she saw him walk into the shop.

Somehow watching him pacing was making her increasingly impatient. And she was happy that he was gone.

As the man walked in, one of the attendents came to ask him what type he wanted. She was a pretty girl dressed in semi-formals with a slender neck. His eyes lingered around her shoulder and collar bone before he made up his mind.

“Black. Preferably in the shade of purple.” He replied.

She nodded and led him to the section with the black ones. They were all very beautiful, not really black but in the shades of dark green, blue and purple.

He stood dazzled.

“Which one would you like, Sir?” The attendent asked.

He shook his head in confusion. “I dont know. They are all so.. ” He took out a handkerchief and wiped his forehead with it. The attendent saw him and smiled.

She picked out and showed him a pearl necklace. It was a simple black string with one single delicate purple pearl in the middle, fine ornate designs carved on its sides.
“How about this?” She placed it in his hand.

He held it in his palm and felt the smoothness with his finger. It was enchanting. He knew she loved pearls, but they always made him sad. Their absence of any imperfections or spotlessness terrified him whenever he imagined it.

How must have the little mollusc struggled.. everytime trying to keep the irritant or foreign object away from its soft sensitive body, secreting layers after layers of the pearl sac to make it less hurtful, a little less painful and eventually getting crushed by its own creation. By this beautiful piece of gem.

The attendent was saying something to him. He didnt hear. It didnt matter anymore.

“I cant afford it. Sorry.” He said.

“But Sir, you dont even know its price..” The attendent cried.

“I can never buy it. The sacrifice behind it.. its too sublime. It cant be bought by any amount of money.” He murmured and walked out of there.

The girl looked at the pearls in her hand and slowly returned them to the shelf.


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