Today, under lockdown days. . on pretext of getting my fav slippers (chappals) to be mended, I cycled with my dad to the nearest cobbler we have around our neighbourhood. Never seen him before but dad knew him as he saw him always there when he went to do his bank stuff.
The moment we stopped our bicycles, and greeted him, he looked up and woosh! for me he was a character out of an English story book wearing a checked shirt, grey pants and a tattered hat. He smiled crookedly and said
“Yes, Saheb?” My dad showed his shoe and the man was happy to have something to do. Then he looked at me and I forwarded my slipper (self-mended) asking him to redo what he did before. He had really done a good job but my slipper was delicate so it came off too soon.
To my surprise, the polite man simply refused saying,” This isn’t my work, i can not redo somebody else’s mess!” (That somebody being me!) It took me some three to five minutes that I had overdone what he mended and have brought the slipper back to him because he really put it very right. Finally he agreed or recalled – I can’t be sure but now asked for some 50 rupees. Usually, we pay plumbers, electricians, carpenters and cobblers etc after the job is done so it was a bit odd having him asking us for money but we obliged and at the same time saw a plastic glass with little whiskey/or other local alcohol beside his tool box. So he needed money to may be drink more or have something to eat as he stated us as it was getting dark by that time.
Since he had done our previous mendings good the next day we went to take our shoes back but he again asked us for money, saying he was hungry and he couldn’t get the glue he needed to paste the sole or something like that. Now this wasn’t the second time he asked money like that. He was making it a pattern over the week. I hadn’t gone after that day but he speaks good English and has his ways around his customers, it seems. My dad has stopped going everyday and now we have given him a week to repair our stuff. Let’s see what comes out. My post is not as interesting as it could be and as cool this experience of meeting this cobbler was. Mainly because I am not getting a natural flow to write. I am on medication and writing is a struggle these days. But yeah I gave him a name, not knowing his own. I call him ‘Mast Mochi’ in Hindi. He lives life as if it’s the only day he has and I like his attitude towards being alive on his own terms. May he be healthy and safe. And hope we get our foot-wears back in a good condition! 🙂