Hang

Zipping along

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 12, 2018

So I’m with a friend, having lunch at her home in Patparganj. She’s made a wonderful chicken curry and dal. We haven’t met for a long time so there’s much to talk about. As I prepare to leave she admires my shoulder bag, made of suede leather covered in Kashmiri crewel-work embroidery. I say, Isn’t it beautiful? From the Crafts Museum shop. It’s got a problem though: the main zip broke very quickly.”

“So why don’t you get it fixed?” asks my friend. I say I just haven’t got around to it. Also, I can’t see how it might be fixed. The zip is one of those long ones and it seems to be very securely sewn into place. So I can’t imagine replacing it without destroying the bag. “Pooh!” says my friend. “Aren’t there any mochis where you live?” I said there must be one but, umm, I haven’t got around to visiting him. That would involve walking around and exploring the neighbourhood. A thing I avoid as far as possible.

“Do you even WANT to get it fixed?” she asks, sounding mildly exasperated. “Oh yes,” I say. “I use the bag all the time. It bothers me like crazy to leave it gaping open.” “I bet my mochi can fix it,” says my friend. “He can fix anything. Come on, let’s go find him.” I shake my head, “Oh no, please! It’s ... It’s too sudden! I haven’t thought it through! I don’t know your mochi and he might refuse and then I’ll feel rejected and depressed!”

She asks how long I’ve been limping along like this. When I say, “Maybe three years?” she leaps to her feet and says, “Okay! We’re getting it done RIGHT NOW!” Before I know it, we’re out the door and trotting down the driveway. “Ooo!” I squeak. “This is all VERY SUDDEN! Don’t you think we should discuss it a bit ...” But we’ve already reached the gate, where my regular cab-driver has been waiting for me to be done with lunch.

My friend leaps into the cab while I scramble in behind her, still protesting weakly. My final reason for not wanting to go right away is that I don’t have any change. “I do,” says my friend, in the tone of someone who cannot believe that I’ve reached adulthood with the survival skills of a wet noodle. She gets my driver to loop around until we’re alongside the mochi’s patch of sidewalk. He sits on a jute sack with his box of shiny tools, a diminutive young man with polished mahogany skin, chiselled features and a dazzling smile.

He laughs when my friend shows him the bag. “Sure I can fix that!” He’s got a selection of zipper-pulls to show me, I choose one and literally in three minutes — one for each year of ziplessness — the job is done! She pays him ₹20 and I go home beaming, playing with the zipper all the way.

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

Published on January 12, 2018
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