Chennai

They struggle to iron out wrinkles in life

Workers are finding the going tough due to a slump after the lockdown.

Workers are finding the going tough due to a slump after the lockdown.   | Photo Credit: B_JOTHI RAMALINGAM

A few weeks back, 40-year-old P. Perumal called his regular customers and went knocking on doors to politely ask if they had clothes for him to iron. “Most of them flatly refused, saying they didn’t have any and some were even scared to let me in,” he says. Now, with no income for nearly three months, he has been delivering water cans, for which he gets paid ₹60 a day.

From giving a pleated pinafore a perfect press to running the coal iron over a crumpled shirt for a crisp look, cloth pressers, their carts parked in several street corners of the city, have long been indispensable for residents. But with schools turning to online classes and professionals working from home, the humble ironwallahs in the city have been struggling without income for months now.

“I have to pay rent for my shop and also my house. I dread to think how I am going to manage in the coming months,” he adds.

N. Ramamoorthy, who has a cart in Nanganallur for nearly 10 years now, says his primary customers include students and those working in the Airports Authority of India.

“Not only that no one is going out for work, people are also scared to give their clothes now. We used to get huge piles of clothes because of social gatherings but we barely see any now. My savings are also getting exhausted. I am clueless and only wondering if I should take up other work to make ends meet,” he adds.

Savings dry up

M. Kaliaperumal has pledged his wife’s jewellery, besides using the savings to support his family for the last three months. “I enrolled my children in private schools and with great difficulty paying their fees by running this ironing business. I somehow borrowed money and paid fees for one child in March itself; and we have been given time for the other child. But when the time comes, I have to seek help again from someone. I don’t know whether to pay rent for the house or remit school fees or run the family,” he adds.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 10:18:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/they-struggle-to-iron-out-wrinkles-in-life/article32016736.ece

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