Of plumber philosophies & disappearing gay couples.

The bell rang . I checked the time – 10.30. Must be the plumber. Opened the door – blue T with a familiar app logo. Plumber it is. 

Quickly, I lead the way to the kitchen pointed to the leaky sink faucet. Meanwhile questions & phrases popped in my head – Should I call her now? Will she pick up? It’s her house after all.

The plumber was least bothered by all this. Like a smart Sherlock he had zeroed in on the crime scene & found out the main suspect –

It’s the washer.

Not the drain pipe – that was where the water was leaking last night.

One leads to another – he said it as we stared at the underbelly of the sink.

And then was plumber philosophy no 1.

He then went blah blah about pipes more blah about faucets & then some additional blah about leakages till I stopped him to arrive at the moment of truth.  

How much will it cost?

What he quoted surprised me – extremely affordable. Go ahead I said. He nodded & told that he has to get out to buy some things. Of course, you I agreed. He hung his kit bag on his shoulder, began walking out when he turned and asked –

Could I get the OTP please?

Oh oh.

Now she had booked the service. And forgotten to give me the OTP. Typical.

I called her cell – no answer. Called again – same result.

See the madam who has booked your service….

Give it later, he interrupted me before I could finish & left.

Relieved somewhat to see him leave, I looked again at the kitchen sink. The place had been something else last night. After a long day, I was unwinding over take-away Chinese & a Netflix webbie. I was going to keep the plate in the sink and wanting to get back to the intriguing climax when I noticed it – water under the kitchen sink. I opened the cabinet fearing the worst – it came true. Water everywhere – the place was a mess.

Arrg! After a long day of work, to have to bend your back and become Gangu-bai. But I knew she was back next morning. She liked to keep her house clean. So I did the needful, also messaged her about it. In the morning I found a forward about a plumber appointment on the app.

Bing!

Speak of the devil – her message. The OTP, plus a set of instructions. Pretty obvious she didn’t want to speak.

As a PS she had added I shouldn’t pay the guy. For the second time I felt relieved. Her house, her sink, so her money.

I knew he would be back soon, so I couldn’t get back to writing.  I did things, made coffee, got the chicken out of freezer, cleaned the kitchen platform. While doing that, I looked out towards the neighbouring building – the gay couple’s flat. Nobody there – no beautiful furniture, no tasteful upholstery, no beautiful plants nursery on the terrace – in fact no gay couple also. The flat was empty.

What happened – Ran out of rent? Ran out of love? I stared hard at the empty spaces open windows. Till one of them suddenly rose up at the windows in his boxer shorts & nothing else. He looked towards me – I ducked.

The bell rang again. Raising myself from that embarrassing posture I slipped away to the main door and opened it. The plumber was back. In no time we got back at the kitchen sink, I stole a glance at the flat across – no boy in boxers. Sigh.

The plumber started working , i sipped my coffee watching him work.

Is it better with the app guys?

It’s okay – said with a shrug.

Do they get you a lot of work?

Not a lot, but steady work. (2 beats before he adds) I got my personal clients too.

Talks invariably went to the pandemic.

17 years in the city – came as a young boy – got a job, got married, my house – everything was here. Many others from my village went back, not me.

Everything I have is here.

Philosophy no 2.

Were the app guys still around?

They were the first to shut shop.

Then did you get other jobs?

Yes yes – people would still have leaks. They had to be fixed.

But the cops, the check posts – how did you manage?

He told me it wasn’t easy – but he did manage. Sometimes he had to make the owners speak to the cops – they usually let him go. In the middle of the conversation, he said something like

At homes people fight. Maybe they can’t fix it. But with a leak – they know they can.

I had lost count of the plumbing philosophy lessons – wow!

He opened up. Actually he began to brag – about jobs for construction companies, how he employed other people etc. Regular blue-collar bull shit – I know it because I recognised the tone, loud & cocky. I know it because I dish them out too. Regular plumbing philosophies between two city men trying to make it through the day. I don’t know why, but I thought of her. If I would have had this conversation with this man if she was here. No.

They left?

I looked up – saw the plumber standing up staring at the  empty flat across.

You knew the people there.

They were my customers – he smiled, had me install the water pipes for the plants in the terrace.

I imagined the plumber fixing the water pipes at their nursery. The couple spying at this house, her Chinese lanterns, linen curtains, her, me. Us.

It’s done, his voice jolted me back to reality.

I checked to the best of what I could check. He gave me a set of instructions. Simple & precise. I nodded. The

Ok thank you – I said signalling it was time for him to leave – see you around.

Err – payment? He asked, all traces of philosophy wiped away.  

But madam said she has….

Buzz! !

My phone buzzed – her message –  Something wrong with the link. Please pay now. We will settle this later.

How much? I looked at him. The plumber told me. I paid him in silence.

Published by appamprawns

soni writes about children and people in controlled spaces, in his quest for appam stew. homi writes in the hope of being able to buy prawns to make patiyo.

3 thoughts on “Of plumber philosophies & disappearing gay couples.

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