Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXI No. 8, August 1-15, 2021
The Woman from Madras Musings once read a lovely story that featured a galaxy of gurus with delightfully specific tasks. There was a saint who loved travellers, one who supervised the churning of butter, one who took woodcutters under her wing, another who saw to the welfare of salmon and so on. You would imagine that such an inclusive pantheon must also house a saint who is partial to service professionals. (Wo)MMM must have inadvertently ticked off this particular saint in some manner or the other because she has been having a rather rough go of getting maintenance work done at home.
It began as the latest round of lockdowns were lifted in the city. The faucet in the washroom sprung a steady, if minuscule, leak. It was barely noticeable at first, hardly making an impression; but as time went by, it became impossible to take one’s mind off the infernal dripping. It was decided that professional help was the need of the hour and a plumber was invited to take a look.
The gentleman, a long-time acquaintance, arrived with an impressive-looking kit containing wrenches, cutters, sealant and other thrilling tools of arcane utility. This, along with the five o clock stubble that he was sporting, instilled every confidence in (Wo)MMM. If at this juncture she had been asked of her outlook on the matter of the leaking faucet, (Wo)MMM would have given a positive response without a second thought. Any minute now, she would have replied, any minute now, that devilish leak will cease forever to give way to holy silence.
And so, the gentleman examined the situation thoroughly, tapping the faucet with his monkey wrench for good measure. Having diagnosed the problem, he proceeded to extract a large handkerchief from his toolkit. He tightly tied the cloth around the leak and exclaimed, “There!” It took a while for (Wo)MMM to understand that the consult had come to an end and the proposed solution was the handkerchief.
And yet, (Wo)MMM remained optimistic in the face of all reason. After all, how does it matter how simple a solution is, as long as the problem is solved? The gentleman did have a toolkit and a professional-looking beard to boot. (Wo)MMM opened and closed the faucet to see if the hanky would hold. Of course it didn’t. The leak from the depths of hell resumed its maddening dripping. The plumber looked around, moved a bathmat under the faucet. He then got up, brushed his pants and quoted his fee. It still drips, pointed out (Wo)MMM after a pause. The gentleman looked her straight in the eye and replied, “No, it doesn’t.”
(Wo)MMM didn’t know what to say. How can anyone respond to statements that fly against evident facts? Confounded by the gentleman’s unshakeable denial of the truth, (Wo)MMM ended up paying for the leaky hanky in a bid to put an end to the whole situation, but thankfully, the better half arrived just in time to save the day.
It wasn’t just the plumber, you know. The courier duped her into paying for her own birthday gift claiming it was a cash-on-delivery package, and the vegetable seller sold (Wo)MMM a bunch of bananas she did not want and, after money had exchanged hands, proceeded to prove that they were ‘fantastic’ by eating three of them in front of her. (It must be confessed that the banana incident made (Wo)MMM laugh – it was like living through a classic Tamil film comedy skit).
And so, if there is a patron saint for service professionals out there, (Wo)MMM would like to express her regret for any slight she may have committed unknowingly. Loss of money is one thing, but the loss of faith is another; (Wo)MMM isn’t cut out for a life of suspicion and wariness, however well-earned.
Wo(MMM) appears to have offended St Maturinus, who in the Catholic faith is the patron saint of plumbers – Editor
It’s been quite a long time since The Woman from Madras Musings stepped out to socialize. (Wo)MMM never was a social butterfly and prolonged isolation had ensconced her in a comfort zone; so easing back into social interactions has been a bit tricky, to be frank.
Recently, The Woman from Madras Musings decided to get her hair cut. It had been a year and a half since she had a professional hair care, and it showed. An appointment was promptly booked and (Wo)MMM found herself at a chic-looking salon.
Her assigned stylist led her to her seat so that he could examine her hair before beginning his work. (Wo)MMM sat down and discovered that her legs were dangling mid-air. Does one grow shorter when one puts on weight? The last time this had happened – mind you, (Wo)MMM will be the first to admit that she isn’t particularly tall – was when she was in middle school. (Wo)MMM remembered that people thought it was cute at the time but strongly doubted that that was the case at the salon.
(Wo)MMM tried adjusting the height of the chair herself, to no avail. Resigned to her dangling feet, (Wo)MMM decided to make the best of a bad situation and tried to get into a comfortable position. She leaned on her left elbow, then her right; she sat up straight and crossed her feet at her knees; and finally, she attempted leaning her back against the chair and realized it made the situation worse. The stylist, who had been watching the strange performance, finally understood (Wo)MMM’s predicament and chivalrously brought forth a footrest to place her feet on.
Problem solved, the stylist produced a white sheet that he draped around the shoulders and fastened at the neck. Almost reflexively, (Wo)MMM’s nose started to itch. After agonizing minutes of ignoring the darn thing, (Wo)MMM realized there was no use in denying the impulse to scratch – as the wonderful Ogden Nash wrote, One bliss for which/ There is no match / Is when you itch/ to up and scratch. (P.G. Wodehouse fans may recognize another iconic line from the same poem, which features in the books – I am greatly attached/ To Barbara Frietchie/ I bet she scratched/ When she was itchy.)
Having decided that the nose would be scratched, (Wo)MMM was at a loss to figure out how exactly to do it. Her arms were beneath a mountain of cloth and the stylist was doing his best to give her a nice haircut. Feeling that an economy of movement was wise when there were sharp scissors snipping away close to her ears, (Wo)MMM moved like a seasoned Tai-Chi artist. The stylist eventually noticed the manoeuver and paused his work. There followed an awkward interval where (Wo)MMM scratched away at her nose while the stylist looked on interestedly from the side. Task finished, (Wo)MMM quietly stowed away her arms under the sheet once more so that the haircut could resume.
Thankfully, the gentleman made quick work of his service, which was completed without further incidents. (Wo)MMM went home with a pretty haircut and a rather reddish nose, but she hopes she doesn’t have to step out again anytime soon.