Gora's Bargaining Prowess

(This is only a poor translation of a story by Bengali humorist Shibram Chakraborty.)

I have known Gora from the time he was very small, must have been twelve or thirteen years old and studying in the seventh grade at the Mitra School. This is his story, which he told me himself - the story of his shopping experience.

While playing football, his shorts ripped and Gora requested his uncle to buy him a new pair. "I do not have the time. I cannot roam around the market with you. Purchasing a pair of shorts for you is not my cup of tea. If you can purchase the shorts on your own, then go and do it," Uncle said.

Gora agreed. "Then, give me the money."

Uncle gave him a 100-rupee note and said, "I know you will be cheated. All the people in the world are always cheating you. All of them are lying in wait to cheat you. But what can I do, I do not even have the time to even eat chocolate."

What if Uncle had the time, Gora would not have given him his chocolate! Gora dropped the 100-rupee note into his pocket. Popping the remaining piece of chocolate into his mouth and chewing on it, he said, "I am not so stupid. I have yet to come across someone in the whole of Bhavanipur who can cheat me. I feel worried all the time that it is I who might cheat somebody unknowingly!"

"Okay then, go to this store," Uncle said directing him to a good clothing store. "You must pretend that you don't need to buy," Uncle advised. "Even if you like a pair of shorts, pretend that you don't like them. Most importantly, remember to bargain; agree to pay only half the amount the shop-owner demands. Else you will surely be cheated."

Gora reached the store and the shop-owner welcomed him with a bright smile. "Come, little boy. What do you want?"

Gora was angry at being addressed as a "little boy". Was he a "little boy"? He was a seventh-grade student in the Mitra School! "Let him address me as a 'little boy' again and I will teach him a lesson," Gora thought to himself.

"I want a good pair of shorts. How much will they cost?"

"They will not cost you much, just 100 rupees," the shop-owner said and placed before Gora a pile of shorts from which to select.

"You are quoting a very high price. I can pay you 50 rupees."

The shop-owner said, "Fifty rupees! Where can you purchase a pair of shorts for 50 rupees? But you are only a little boy, so I will give them to you for 80 rupees."

Gora was very angry at being described as a "little boy" again. "Give them to me for 40 rupees, else I am leaving," Gora said and made as if to go away.

"Forty rupees!" The man uttered the words as if the sky had fallen on his head. "A pair of shorts for 40 rupees! Do you know what is the cost of cloth? Then, there are labour charges ...."

"I neither understand such things nor do I wish to bargain with you. If you give them to me for 40 rupees, I can buy," Gora made it clear.

"I don't like to disappoint customers, especially immediately after opening the store in the morning. Okay, then, I will sell the shorts for 50 rupees - the price that you mentioned."

But Gora was quick on his guard. Agree to pay only half the amount that is demanded, Uncle had said. "I will pay you 25 rupees and not a rupee more," Gora said.

"My God! You are a difficult customer. Okay, you may take the pair of shorts for 40 rupees. I am ready to forsake my profit."

"Oh, no!" Gora realized that the man was trying to cheat him. "Give them to me for 20 rupees," he said.

"What! Twenty rupees! Boy, you are giving me nightmares!" the shop-owner was in tears. "I have been managing this shop for the last 20 years but have never encountered such a difficult man, I mean child, ever in my life," the man said and let out a one-and-half-mile-long sigh. "But what can I do? I cannot turn back the first customer from my shop empty-handed. Okay, let us settle the price at 25 rupees. Add another five to 20 and pay me 25 rupees."

"Twen...ty-fi...ve! What are you saying! If you had said 12.50 rupees, I could have considered," Gora was desperate. He did not want to allow the shop-owner to cheat him. "Will you give them to me for 12.50 rupees or should I try another shop?"

"Oh, wait. No shop-owner can turn away the first customer; it is bad for business. Give me 20 rupees and take away this pair of shorts."

Gora removed a ten-rupee note from his shirt pocket, a five-rupee note from the left-hand shorts pocket, and three one-rupee coins from the right-hand shorts pocket. "See, I have 18 rupees. Will this do?"

"You do not have even 20 rupees!" the shop-owner was almost sobbing now.

"No, I have only 18 rupees, and I must tell you that two of the three one-rupee coins are now no longer valid. I don't want to cheat you."

"Sixteen rupees? Sixteen rupees for a pair of shorts? Sixteen rupees for a pair of shorts that costs 100 rupees" I think I am turning mad!" the man tore at his hair. "You do not have to pay me anything, I will give you a pair of shorts for free. You have been a nuisance by arriving as the first customer."

Gora realized that the shop-owner was bent upon cheating him. "If you give me a pair of shorts for free, then I will take two pairs," he immediately replied.

The shop-owner began a dance - a dance of anguish. While still dancing, he packed two pairs of shorts and gave the packet to Gora. The boy walked out of the store with an unconcerned expression on his face, just like his uncle had suggested. "I have purchased the shorts, but only Uncle can tell whether I have been cheated or not," he muttered to himself.

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