The Story of My Tailor – Mere Tailor Master ki Kahani
I must have been around 4 yrs old when tailor master or Maula as everybody called him, started tailoring the clothes in our home and all the Sikh families around.
A lanky young man, he hardly knew how to cut a proper salwar( trouser) and all the older ladies pitched in with their tailoring skills and taught him how they wanted their salwar to be cut…loose and shapely and the ankle cut or the pauncha as it is called was churned out to be a work of art with intricate stitches in curves, loops, circles, diamonds.
The day the tailor was to sit and stitch in the house, the whole routine of the house was turned upside down. He arrived at the unearthly hour of 7 am reeking of a sickly nauseating ittar(perfume) that he used. My mom used to get into a tether and kept everything ready for him…the cloth, spools of thread, tape, sewing chalk and scissors.
Then would start a huge confrontation; like 2 gladiators locked in combat. Maula was known to smuggle off extra material and mom’s eagle eye would never let go of her eyes on him. He used to cut nearly 5 dresses in a day and finish them by evening. The whole day the din of the sewing machine reverberated around the house.
He had preferences for his breakfast and lunch which he partook in every house he worked in. The paranthas( flat bread) had to be the’ vall walle’ paranthas and the omelette with onion and green chilli. If it was not to his liking he just refused to eat. Lunch was rice, dal, sabzi, pickle and buttermilk and tea, three to four times a day at a fixed time.
He was a movie buff and watched every movie that released. The next day he would discuss it with everyone he met. He read the Telugu paper every day and was in tune with the happenings around the globe.
If he worked for 3-4 days continuously then he would not turn up the next day. He would be on a drinking binge until his money ran out. He would even turn up at 7 in the morning absolutely drunk. But he was in so much demand as he was magical with his art and no other tailor could stitch like he did. One unique thing about him was that he never took measurements!! He would just give a cursory look and start cutting. He even stitched a dress for my sister-in-law to be by just looking at her piturec.Give him any pattern and he would try to create it for you. My bhabhi( sister-in-law) loved to wear broad and deep necks and if she asked him to let the scissors cut a bit low he would look down and say…”kya accha lagta ji !!” (that is not going to look nice) Fashion policing…hahhaha.
He used to be so frail and scrawny that I used to ask him jokingly when he would die and he would say not till I stitch your trousseau. When I was in college I used to design my own clothes and break my head explaining the pattern to him. He would crib and curse but actually loved the challenge of creating a new design and feel extremely proud of his creation. I did have opportunities to get my clothes tailored from Delhi boutiques. but I ended up disliking the cut and fit.
One irritating habit he had was asking for money even when he wasn’t stitching for you and if you did not pay him he would not come to your house to tailor. In this way he had ATM’s in every home where he could withdraw cash without a card.
Once he earned enough he started tailoring from home. We had to go to his house and hand over our silks and satins. And what we feared happened. He was a habitual drunk and he sold off all the materials in his house!! After all the cursing and cussing of a couple of months, he was back to his regular tailoring from house to house. He stitched anything and everything from baby diapers to baby clothes, cushion covers to pillow covers, curtains to even doormats.Salwar –kameez was his favorite and though he could stitch blouses he always refused to do so.
He was still fit and fine when I was getting married and he did tailor my trousseau and everybody else’s clothes. Then later even baby clothes for my son and daughter. He was indefatigable and just lived on and on. When many people stopped giving him work I was still his staunch customer and I decided to start a boutique at home and he agreed to work for me. His son too started tailoring and I roped him in. though he was a chip of the old block.
I designed the clothes and Maula did the cutting and employed 3 other tailors to finish them. I would come out with latest patterns and cuts and just draw and show it to him and he would just do my bidding all the while cursing under his breath.
Slowly he became frailer and frailer and could not stitch like he did before. But still he continued to do so on and off but never stopped drinking. He ate less and drank more.
My mom had given him 20 paise copper coin years ago with a lotus on it and he considered it very lucky.He gave it to me a few years ago saying..You keep it ,it will do you good!! That was such a touching gesture.Unfortunately, he lost his family within a few months. His wife died of gangrene, daughter at childbirth, son of TB.He was homeless and slept wherever he could. Last seen, he was found ill on the roadside and the ambulance was called to take him to hospital. He never came back, but his memories live on forever.