Life can change in an instant. Capitalism can catch you unawares. Some little people can suddenly become rich.
And this happens on a quiet evening when I have sneaked inside my study to somehow experience what silence feels like. Not even a minute has passed and I am still trying to get hold of the oh-so-elusive sound of silence, when Omar barges inside.
“Thank you, Omar.” The compliment makes me feel good. Only it is not really a compliment. It is just a prelude to the sales pitch that now starts:
“Show me your finger.” Here he takes my finger, slips on it a piece of wool tied with a knot and continues, “this is a ring. See how good it looks on your finger.”
“Ring? Eh...yes, it is beautiful.” I try to be nice.
“Yes, designing and making it required a lot of effort. Now you have bought it, and you owe me thirty Rupees.” He wears the expression of a businessman who has made a real good bargain.
“I bought it? I see. It seems a bit expensive.” Something tells me I am stuck with the bargain but still I try to haggle.
“When I made this ring for the first time, the wool snapped and I had to make it again. So it’s like two rings, thus expensive.”
Omar’s logic leaves me speechless.
While I am still looking at my fingers, trying to figure out which finger would look good with the woolen ring, Zainab and Apple come romping inside.
Apple hands me a plastic flower threaded with a woolen string.
“I have brought a bracelet for you.”
Zainab steps forward and shows another plastic flower threaded with a longer woolen string.
“Here’s a necklace for you.”
“See we have used wool not an ordinary thread. And look at these beautiful flowers! You will look so nice in them. We are selling it cheap, at Rupees 10 each. You owe us twenty Rupees.” Apple gives this lengthy sales pitch and informs me that my jewelry collection has grown by leaps and bounds.
Have they rehearsed their sales pitch, or does it come naturally to them? However, by now I know that this transaction is like fate: irrevocable. So I simply resign myself to it.
Embolden by the success of this business venture, the Lilliputians decide to branch out and diversify their product line. And seeing a potential market, the others join the three pioneers.
An hour later there is a new product: papers puppets. Expensive paper puppets. Of course, I have bought a few.
If there is any consolation, it is this: I am not the only victim of this sudden onslaught of commercialization that has sneaked inside the Land of Lilliputians. Every adult in this Land now owns a piece of jewelry, ingeniously made with wool and plastic flowers, plus a few puppets. And we have run up a huge debt.
The Lilliputians, by the way, have become immensely rich overnight.