By Rituparna Sengupta
Illustrations by Samidha Gunjal
The over-friendly neighbourhood viral website
scoops you on bra hacks today,
Clever tricks to extend your bra’s life
or make it multitask.
for women alone
know the torment that precedes
the discovery of the just-right
This is how it goes.
*invoking matron deity of the titular domain*
You venture into one of those chain stores at a mall
And inch towards the lawnjzhurey section but stop short of it.
Taking cover behind a shelf, you eye the brands on the other side
and check out their discounts surreptitiously, compile a mental short list.
You aim for the brand with the busiest salesgirl and saunter towards the display
NOT making eye contact.
All your practice in window-shopping comes to aid your pretence.
You quickly scan for your possible sizes and required colours and
pick them gingerly off their hooks
*the only time you are gentle with these contorters.*
Just when you begin to congratulate yourself
and try to slink away to the trail room
you get waylaid by
This is the bra salesgirl, the votary of the mammary clan
who has used her telepathetic powers to intuit your desperation
and decided to unleash her cloying charm
full beam on you.
*Petite, but loud, she is made of harder stuff than the underwire poking your ribs.*
Hello, ma’am! Size, ma’am?
chest-raying you like no bosom pal would.
That size, ma’am?
That won’t fit you.
*count till your band size*.
By now, lesser brazillettes with weaker powers
are hovering around like
indulgent autorickshaws when you don’t need them.
This brand, ma’am.
New design, ma’am.
Buy 2, get 1 free, ma’am.
Maximiser, Minimiser, Invisibiliser, ma’am.
Flurried calculations across brands
a band size up, a cup size down
your forearms are foisted with different permutations and combinations
till it becomes a banyan tree with hanging roots.
Brazilla’s icy stare.
Which brand do YOU want?
*tr. May your breasts wither away if you try the others on.*
You grimace a smile
and hastily make towards your trial.
Female guard on duty allows only
of said samples in with you.
Your heart soars.
Bridezilla marches in confidently
snatches surplus from you
and (un) assures,
You go. I’ll give.
Cowering, you enter. Thankful for at least that much privacy.
Try bra. Survey in mirror.
Compare probables, re-try.
You find the top of the stall door strewn with bras you didn’t shortlist.
You shudder, pass over rejects same way,
pretend to try out the second batch,
and before they can come back with more
to enamour and bewitch you with,
you desperately grab at
the cheapest among the finalists.
Put it back. You want it to last.
Pick up most expensive semi-finalist.
10% discount only. Bummer.
Rummage through heap for original bra,
Pile rejects on left arm, winner on right
nudge away guilt,
try for stern look,
get singed by Brazilla’s fuming glare instead
for not choosing any of hers.
But she has a backup to thrust at you.
Aha. But it’s out of your budget, you say.
But you can try, no, ma’am? she barks.
*Where are the ‘steps’ you say? To hell with them. Just let me get out of there, I say.*
The brazillettes by now turn away
wearing their pity for your bad taste
across their faces.
You’re not worth their bras,
their arched eyebrows and
indifferent shoulders say.
The triumphant one beams at you
from her bra-zen state
smirks at them,
to the cash counter
offering to camouflage
your purchase in a large shopping bag.
You stand in queue,
half-regret your choice,
almost go back,
then resign to fate.
Robotic smile and greeting from counter guy
scanning of barcode, peering at screen
while trying to sign you up for their loyalty program,
unaware of your very disloyal thoughts at the moment.
Discount scheme not available on your product
you are by now a nihilist existentialist free-the-nippleist
almost, that last one
*you recall all those activist-friends have breasts one-fourth your size*
You almost ask for the Manager.
Almost ask for compensation for your trauma.
Consider online shopping
Remember previous experience.
Aloud: It’s ok.
shuffle along to exit.
Glance back at those contenders
in the distance, fighting out
their next battle of the brastards,
those iron ladies
of polyester silk nylon spandex foam.
You mutter a prayer for their next collateral,
Cheering marginally at
the prospect of having something new to rant about
post recovery in a week or two.
Bilkul andar ki baat.