Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Death of a Slipper

I hold the cobbler seated at the corner of the street in very high regard. I do, for he has never had a problem in mending my foot wears. Compared to him, even doctors appear fallible in fulfilling the requirements of their job for fail he can't. And I respect him a lot because he has never had a problem in mending my foot wears -those of such absurd state that apparently, as my sister observed once, dogs think twice before chewing them. A year ago, I had taken my shoes to the cobbler- as ever, an old man who I suspected of not hesitating to pluck some silver hair from his beard were he to run out of threads to stitch. One look at one of the pair, barely an infant but with its sole gaping at the road like a one-eyed troll, was enough for him to claim an exorbitant sum to mend it. As he expected of me, I tried to bargain but he refused to swerve from his position. So I had to politely demur and walk across to a shoe store nearby and buy myself a new pair of shoes. There was wisdom in the buy, I convinced myself for I do not like to splurge on footwear. I follow my uncle's dictum on footwear: them of no use but to guard the foot from what it walks on. One could dismiss such an opinion as functional but how elegant and sagacious it is! And since then, it has been easy for me to choose and buy footwear and more importantly, it has never taken me longer than 10 minutes to head away from the nauseating stench of leather.

But the problem is that they tend to wear off faster than it does for others around me. The sole erodes, or if it is a slipper, the annulated big toe holder splits or just comes unhinged. Same happens with buckled slippers too. It is not about the quality or the brand; I have tried shoes and slippers of nearly all brands but longer than six months, they never last. Bata, Durable Chrome Factory, Adidas, Nike, Paragon, even the plastic ones with counterfeit labels - no matter; my foot treats them with an equanimity and impartiality that school students can only dream of from their teachers.

On a rainy day, with dark clouds hovering above like an UFO, water puddled in the furrows made by the rain on the road and jaggedly flowing across the soil heaped beside the road, I found myself on my way to the cobbler with a pair of slippers. The toe ring had come unhinged from one among the pair. I had my doubts about it for the split portion of the toe holder hung in mid air, like a half constructed flyover, over a pear shaped vacuum where the sole should have been, the toe ring ruptured in such a way that it had come away with the piece of leather it was supposed to stick to.

So I found myself outside the cobbler's den, him and his tools resting on ground at the foot of a tree with a black tarpaulin roof stretching over them. I took out the slippers from the plastic bag and gave it to him. He held it in his hand for a moment and gave them back to me with the words "Nothing can be done about it". His instant verdict was stunning. As I had suspected, he pointed to the vacuum where the toe holder was to be held and suggested that I throw the pair away. Unlike for a doctor, one is better off without consulting another cobbler for second opinion. I walked back home feeling a little dazed. His acceptance of failure, this inability to stitch and append a pear shaped piece of leather to the sole, the speed at which he weighed his options and pronounced his verdict, the gawky look that flashed across his visage when he noticed the disappointment on my face, altogether startled me. Of course, there lay in my house, numerous pair of slippers and shoes that I had discarded or had not cared enough to mend. But fail a cobbler never has and his fallibility rankled till I reached home and stuffed the bag containing the pair under the shoe stand where it will rest till I throw the whole lot of it out.

3 comments:

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

Good one !

Apparently, honesty shocks as well .... huh ??

Vivek said...

@Deepa,

Thank you :)

Honesty punctures delusions and delusions, more often than not, is necessary for happiness.

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

sometimes delusions are delightful

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