I dug my hand into the carry bag consisting of vegetables my husband brought home and found a packet of sugar amongst them.

 I didn’t ask you to buy sugar, did I? I said.

 No, you didn’t. It came free as a gift. You will be happy to know that a new air-conditioned food store has come up not far away from our house, informed my husband.

 Is this an augural offer or can we expect such things in future as well? I asked expectantly.

 Just like you women, always looking for freebies, remarked my husband with his usual sarcasm. If they continue to give gifts with every purchase you make they will soon be out of business, he said.

 Well, I don’t see anything wrong in expecting freebies, you men are no different, are you? I said feeling quite offended.

 What do you mean? he shot back.

 I mean what I said, I emphasised. Coming to think of it, expecting freebies has become a way of life irrespective of the strata of society people belong to, I added.

 Do you remember the unpleasant experience we had during our tours abroad? I said suddenly recalling the various incidents that left a bad taste in my mouth. Do you remember when we dined in a restaurant in Venice and Rome, the bearers who served food gave us a stinking look just because we didn’t tip them? Again, I remember the security at the hotel in Singapore who deposited our luggage in the cab returned the money I gave saying he expected a larger tip. I think, the less said about the auto drivers of Chennai it is better because they are a breed apart, I said with contempt. 

 Aye, what you are referring to are called tips and not freebies, corrected my husband.

 I feel there is really no difference because anything expected over and above what you are paid, for doing your duty amounts to freebies. It’s worse if the so-called higher-ups in society expect them or even demand them in cash or kind as a matter of their right. They think they are doing you a great favour, I averred.

 I think both of us need to be corrected because there is a better word for the kind of freebies you are referring to, said my husband.

 Do you mean the word is BRIBE and that men set the trend in its indulgence and women are faithfully following suit? I asked innocently.

 Perhaps you are right, he said before he could check himself.


N Meera Raghavendra Rao


















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