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Going by instinct

Repairs or leaks, here I come!

Repairs or leaks, here I come! | Photo Credit: Getty Images/IstockPhoto

I was told by my parents that on my first birthday, some sixty nine years ago, when they arranged assorted things, such as a toy, a toffee, a screwdriver, a thermometer, a notebook, a biscuit pack, a sacred ash pack, a paintbrush and a fruit around me in a circle, I crawled and picked up the screwdriver. Someone in the august assembly is said to have prophesied then that I would grow up into an engineer. Twenty-two years from then, I landed in a lousy bankman’s job, but to my parents’ delight.

I retired as an unsung dude after thirty-four years, not that I’m saying I’d have become a Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya or a Metroman Sreedharan, had I pursued an engineering course.

Quite amusingly, the belief system then prevailing seemed to be that a child that laid its hand on the thermometer would become a Dr. B. C. Roy, on the notebook a Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, on the paintbrush a Picasso and on the sacred ash packet an Adishankara.

Nonetheless, the “screwdriver instinct” seemingly worked into my brain in a myriad ways and I always found myself drawn to my first love, of repairing a leaking tap, a broken mixie, a defunct lock, an obstinate tubelight, an unrelenting Lambretta scooter, a limping chair, a squeaky door and such infinite stubborn tools, implements, devices, fixtures and furniture. I shall say with all modesty I even brought to life my neighbour’s antique Solidaire TV and another’s worrisome grinder and a wheezing cooker that used to strike work for no perceptible reason. I confess that I have even impaired a feebly working ceiling fan in my overenthusiasm to set it right. I also failed miserably when I tried to extend my repairing prowess to our gas stove that strictly refused to budge to my antics.

My wife promptly declared our kitchen area out of bounds for me as she found my amateur servicing skills an absolute idler’s buffoonery. She had enough of my indigenous creativity once when I meddled with a perfectly working AC unit in the hotel room we rented that caused a power outage for the whole complex that night.

Let me honestly share with you that my love for repairs is so strong that I can be spotted in the secondhand items markets of the towns I visit. I would indeed secretly love a guest gifting me an antique appliance worn with use than giving me a brand new equivalent.

The highest award (could be in the order of say an Oscar if one such is instituted for the likes of me) for my repair skills came when my neighbour, a retired high-ranking cop, forgot his house keys at his in-laws’ place, far away, and I tried every trick up my sleeve to finally succeed in teasing open the main door’s automatic latch with a plastic piece cut from an empty mineral water bottle, something I learnt from a YouTube clip.

Of course, he changed the latch and switched to a more sturdy locking system, ostensibly to ward off application of similar wisdom by an unscrupulous intruder. All the same, his respect for my skills grew multifold and he now consults me beforehand to ensure that I am in the know of the mechanism of a thing that he intends to go for. Needless to say, my private room looks like a junkyard, impenetrable for anyone without my aid. I read somewhere that the workplaces of most scientists resemble mine. Is it any omen of things to unfold?

pushpasaran@yahoo.co.in


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Printable version | May 22, 2022 4:55:53 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/going-by-instinct/article65422649.ece