From Goat to Ghost –The Story of a Bag
If you see me, a mere leather bag, lying in front of you, would you ever think that once upon a time I was a sprightly little goat jumping around on a juicy meadow dotted with white and yellow flowers? No, you would not. You would probably see me as nothing but a container of all those things precious to the madam with long legs and an even longer face, who spent a lot of money to buy me in a fancy shop at Delhi’s fashionable Khan Market. You know, that market were, bit by bit, all the old stores have disappeared to make room for shops that sell costly stuff – sorry, I mean luxury items – to those who can afford them.
Yet let us forget that crazy market and get back to me. Yes, once upon a time I was, indeed, alive and kicking and roamed over the fields amidst my brothers and sisters. A happy lot we were and lucky that we had our old herdsman, thin as a wire, who guided us to places where we could find fodder, and to find fodder was not always easy in Rajasthan, that desert land far away in Northern India.
For when the rains failed, what they often did, we had to walk many a mile and stretch our lean limbs as much as we could to pull down a few wrinkled leaves from the brittle branches of a half-dead tree. Yet, there were good times too. I mean those when the weather God was in a benign mood and granted us access to those juicy meadows dotted with white and yellow flowers that I had mentioned before. Oh, how beautiful they were! And how tasty!
It all ended one fine – or rather not so fine – day, when a fat man with a soft moon-face and stony little eyes came to our village and pulled out bundles of money from a shabby leather pouch that dangled from the belt of his ill-fitting pants and waved them before the tired eyes of our old herdsman. He waved and waved, came nearer and nearer until his money almost brushed against the cheeks of our herdsman, who stood there as wooden and speechless as a totem pole. He stood like this for a very long time rooted to the ground he belonged to, just like us. His mouth did not utter a sound, but his stomach started to rumble. It obviously rumbled with hunger, while the fellow with the bunch of money danced before him the dance of mammon.
Here I should mention that our herdsman had become thinner and thinner over the years and his eyes duller and duller as he increasingly faced the problem of not only finding food for us, but also himself and his family. Sometimes I pitied the poor fellow – a wife, one son, three daughters, not to mention his ancient father. They all depended on him.
To cut a long story short, with tears streaming down his hollow cheeks, the old man finally could not resist the temptation any more, snatched the money and tugged it under his turban. Then, with a weak wave of his hand, he gestured to the fat man that we had become his, shrugged his shoulders and, head drooping, walked away – a lonely figure, getting smaller and smaller until he became invisible.
The fat man did not hesitate even for a second to whip us into the truck that had followed his car – a white car with a red light on top. You should have heard the noise we made. We bleated and bleated until we had no strength left to bleak. Yes, we were very much alive and kicking, before we ended up in the slaughterhouse later in the day. It was the worst day of my life and the last one too; but you know, my soul is still there. Somewhere floating around and wondering what has become of my body.
Well, what has become of my body is that my flesh ended up simmering as major ingredient of a spicy curry in a cooking pot and my skin, or rather hide, in the bag in front of you. It is a fancy bag with many pockets for all the items the madam, who owns me, thinks she needs to carry her through the day: her fat purse – probably made of one of my brothers or sisters or nieces or nephews skin -, her comb, her make-up kit, her assortment of lipsticks, her bunch of keys to keep all her possessions including rice and sugar under lock and key, her hanky – how I hate it when it is full of snot! God knows what else, – probably a lot of air and just, well, stuff.
What I like, however, is her cell phone. When it rings it vibrates and that tickles my funny bone, while the spunky tune makes me feel like dancing. But alas, only my soul – or should I say my ghost? – can dance. She also drops a book and her reading glasses into me, though I never see her reading. However, it is always the latest bestseller about to hit the stalls that she makes me carry in one of my compartments. For, you know, madam attends many book launches and gets a copy signed by the author there. She also attends many fashion shows where skeleton thin models parade before wealthy man with big paunches and their dieting wives and other fancy events to enjoy wine and cheese, meet friends and those who pretend to be friends and to show off.
Make an intelligent guess what she shows off. Yes, you got it right. She shows off me! Yes, yes, yes, she is very proud of me because I am a Louis Vuitton bag, and that is prestigious – at least in her circle of friends where all the madams vie with each other to have the latest designer bag and I am the latest model of one of the most expensive designers. Ha, what has become of me, I sometimes ask myself. II have mutated from goat to bag. What a fall from grace! What a destiny!
On the other hand, maybe I should be grateful or even proud because I could have also ended up as a shabby pouch dangling from the belt of a fat man who buys goats to sell to an even fatter man who makes bags.
Actually, to have become a bag gets my goat!