Friday, November 13, 2009


My dhobi has a sister. She was the one who would collect the clothes & deliver them after ironing.In fact,we hardly saw the brother that is the dhobi.She was of marriagable age but was not tying the knot.My maidservant was more worried than the girl about the wedding.She seemed to opine that the brother was utilising his sister for earning a livelihood.The sister would always disagree with my maidservant whenever they met at my home.Later,she started avoiding my inquisitive bai.

Months passed & one fine day,the girl announced that she is getting married.She was happy.Her brother had arranged for the match,she said.She invited us also but we were unable to go though, it, was quite nearby.Later,she paid us a visit.My mom gifted her a saree. It was out of guilt of having missed her wedding.

Now,the problem started- the dhobi did not turn up for days together.We were anxious.Our clothes were piling -especially my daughter's school uniform sets.I managed a temporary respite by giving it at the nearby power laundry.He charged me extra.I tried telling other dhobis to come up & pick the clothes.But they were hesitant in stepping into his shoes.They did not want to take away the livelihood of one amongst them.

At last,he landed.I asked him about his long absence.He said that he was not keeping well.I gave him the clothes for ironing.He delivered them as promised.But again,he was absent for a fortnight.When,he returned,he stated that he has again been keeping unwell.But ,he gave his phone number .He said that ,I could call him up & he will come.I realised that his sister was the one who did all the outside chores for him .With her gone now,he was finding it impossible to cater to all his customers.Moreover,he couldn't afford to keep an assistant. He had a family as I used to give my daughter's old clothes & shoes for his daughter.

I called him up after a week.He said that he will come the next day.He came but ,I was irritated that he came a day later.I felt, that his phone number was given so that he could decide, the day, the clothes would be taken up -not me.This continued.I still put up with him .

It was time for Deepavali .As,I was going out of town,I told him about it.He said that I call him up after I return.After my return,I called him up on phone.He came & immediately asked ,"Aapne ,Deepavali ka bonus nahi diya." ! I was angry .I had told him that I would be out of town so as to save him the inconvenience of coming to my house to look at the lock.And , he was accusing me of depriving him of his bonus.But,I kept mum.I thought, that maybe he needs a lesson or rather some lessons in manners.His sister was unlike him.I paid him his bonus.He thanked me.

He started coming regularly now -once in a week. I had to call him up but he would be there on the day,I would call him.Meanwhile,my daughter lost her wrist watch-it had been gifted by her mama.It was a purple & pink watch -a pretty one for a nine year girl.We searched everywhere but drew a blank.

The dhobi came to deliver the ironed clothes.I was on the phone talking to a friend.My dhobi handed me my kid's wrist watch & made a passing reference as he collected his payment that it was there in the bundle of our clothes.I was so busy on the phone that I could not even thank him.He could have just kept it as he has a daughter of the same age as mine but his honesty triumphed ! We would never have thought that it could be mixed up in a bundle of clothes.I felt, that it was I, who needed to join an etiquette class, as I had, yet to learn, to be thankful for all that I have got & more !

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