It all started when a colourful gift voucher of a reputed beauty clinic fatefully fell into my hands. ‘Flash this and avail of services worth Rs. 1000 absolutely free’, it beckoned enticingly to me in lurid multi-color. The moment the word ‘free’ impacted my vision, it had the instant effect of making me drop everything and turn the focus of my attention full-beam on the alluring promise of this message. I think most folks will agree that no human is invulnerable to the effects of the magical word- free, for it possesses the incredible power to transport us to a place where the laws of worldly karma dissolve into an idyllic mist. Here, you may have done nothing to deserve a good turn, yet someone is hell-bent to hand it to you. Can it get better than this to assuage human greed?
And so, with due haste to follow the offer through, I made an urgent call to the clinic, to be told by the sweet young voice at the other end that its validity was alive, by what I construed as a stroke of serendipity, only up to that day. I blessed my good fortune, and agreed to the earliest appointment they could arrange for me, before the 1000 bucks could disappear out of my grasp and into the thin air. In short, I fell like a ton of bricks into their well-laid out trap, exactly the way they had intended me to!
Came the appointed hour and I made it punctually to the portals of this magnanimous establishment. But, one look at the swank interiors, one whiff of the rarefied air of exclusivity, and a twirl of unease began to assert itself within me. The first procedure I was led to did nothing to allay that feeling. I was made to step onto a small, compact machine which did not look either intelligent or knowledgeable, yet it immediately spat out a long list of my vital parameters over which a bunch of assistants nodded wisely, appraising me with pity-tinged interest.
Slowly a premonition that I would be a terrible misfit in this place was taking hold of me. This was further heightened when I was guided to their next process- a scientific analysis of my skin. Fearfully I seated myself on the solitary chair in an isolated room, while a chit of a girl, claiming to be a skin specialist, approached me with a contraption attached with a black coil to a monitor. Very soon, it seemed to me that this camera-fitted equipment took the form of a hooded cobra, for it began to sway in a mesmerized fashion across my face, as if to some inaudible snake-charmer’s tune. All this while it kept transmitting to the screen the most grotesque images of what looked like the surface of a barren planet, ravaged by horrendous space storms!