We met for coffee. She had called me, so I could guess, it was to talk about me.
"Your Mom wanted me to talk with you." I wince and look away.
"Its about you being a plumber." I make a face.
"Its been months, and now its not funny."
I shrug and say "Maybe it wasnt meant to be funny".
She sighs. "You gave up your job, so soon, after His death to become a Plumber. She thought there could be some connection, and thought I could convince you."
He, was her dead husband. One of my best friends, like her.
"Haven't we been through this before?"
She gets mad, and I cant help smiling, and as usual, that just makes her more mad.
"Dont start on what I should do. There must be some reason, to be a Plumber" she yells, and then quickly lowers her head, realising she has spoken too loudly. I smile more broadly, and she fumes.
I stretch my legs, sip my coffee and say
"Since I opted to become a plumber, many theories have been floating around regarding my motives. Why dont you try to see if anyone of them, makes sense". And I remove a sheet from my pocket and read from it, since I had come well prepared.
"1. Childhood dream.
This is by those who cant think of anything. And for anything and everything, think it goes back to childhood. I wonder if they would have mentioned the Childhood Dream Theory, if I had become an autopsy surgeon.
2. A Spy in disguise
Err please go back to your movies and novels. Truth is stranger than fiction.
3. All About a Girl and a Broken Heart
If the elderly mention childhood dreams, the guys my age, think the only reason a guy would go crazy (i.e decide to become a plumber) would be because of a girl. Maybe they think, I hide my tears due to the broken heart, by blaming the leaky pipes (wouldnt being a chef and cutting onions a better option?). Never mind, thats not the answer.
4. I love it
Now again, why would someone love cleaning clogged drains? Again, would they have mentioned this theory, if I had been an Autopsy Surgeon.
5. Perhaps secret income in the form of blackmail
When folks call me to fix their pipes, I dont fix tiny cameras and neither do I inject them with truth serum.
6. An excuse to meet a certain woman
Ha if its not a broken heart, it must be sex, according to some guys. Life for me, isnt whats potrayed on Desperate Housewives or Ekta serials for that matter.
7. Aspiring actor/model, who has pride and therefore a part time assignment or a writer wanting to write "Plumber diaries".
Thats perhaps by those who havent seen me:D and "Plumber Diaries", that would be about pipes not people, so no chance of being a bestseller.
Hmmmm. Yeah I love being lazy and working slowly, in a stinking, wet, room.
9. Lack of opportunities. Blame the government.
Not exactly. Unlike the unfortunate, atleast I am employed.
10. Hate my Family
Thats by those who realise my family, hates me for my "career choice". "
11. I am Gay and dont want to get married
Hmmm Plumbers can never get married?"
I pause, I have come up with only 11. I like an even figure, can you think of another one, and please dont say "I am crazy, thats a boring theory"
She smiles mischeivously and adds
12. This is a secret marketing strategy, developed by your marketing team to get you inside the house, and talk to your clients about credit cards. Since all potential clients slam the phone or the door, when you start talking about credit cards.
I laugh "Hmmm, perhaps not a bad idea, and perhaps I should contact my ex-Boss and convince him to give me back my job. But how do I start the conversation with my clients. "I have done my job, but you could pay me with a credit card. And I can suggest a perfect card for you, even if you have 5 cards. And if you apply through me, I can get you a complimentary, tap, free?"
She grins and looks steadily into my eyes. I simply smile back. We have finished the coffee. And now she has to hurry back home, so that her mother in law wont be suspicious. And her cosister's children would be home from school soon.
"Please change. Its just so horrible for them." she pleads.
"To say, my elder son is a plumber and my younger son, a software engineer?"
She sulks and then says."I just hope you are not ruining your life, because of me."
"So its ok to ruin my life, as long as its not due to you?" I retort lightly as the bill arrives.
She seems upset. I pay. For the first time, in our friendship, she doesnt volunteer to share. We both realise it, and yet pretend to not realise it.
We get up, and as we leave, I say "You know, I owed him some money, but I could save only a part of it till now". And try to hand her an envelope.
She stands still, stunned. "He never told me, about it."
"The poor guy was so scared of you, in my earlier job I would have paid back in a month, so he probably didnt tell you."
I shrug. "Of course, I would rather not pay it back, but unlike you, I dont wanted to be haunted by him."
She sighs and says "I wish he would haunt you and scare you into doing something else. Now what do I tell your mother, her son is just crazy?" I shrug again.
She stares at the envelope, unsure. I say, "Hey if you dont want, what is yours, dont blame me, if I dont give it to you, again."
She perhaps thinks, its genuine and not charity and takes it with a smile and says "Now I need money and you better switch your career, if you want to finish off the loan quickly"
I retort "Sorry, I cant make a career change, just for you." That seems to make her happy. And she walks away, while I stand near the door waiting, so that we wont be seen together.
After a few steps, she turns around to wave at me and says "Just be happy.. and take care.."
I smile, nod and wave. And walk home after a few minutes.
Being a plumber is not fun. But its easier than being an electrician for me. And it also makes it easier, to talk to the maid, who works in the flat, adjacent to hers. (They stopped the maid, since She could do that work). And the neighbour's maid feels comfortable talking to a curious plumber, not a telemarketing guy.
I do wonder, if I would have realised otherwise, she doesnt have the money, to buy what she needs, every month, and her embarrassment, last week, when asked to justify her expenses, to her inlaws. After all she wasnt supposed to spend for herself, like her cosister, who had an independent income.
True, my family is embarrassed over my choice. But thats nothing compared to her embarrassment, when it comes to discussing her problems.
My family isnt proud of me, but then, she is too proud to discuss her situation with her parents or friends.
Plumber might not be the best choice. But it was what I could come up with, at that moment. Instead of wasting my time, thinking about the doing the best, I go along with my choice, making the best out of it.
Previously with these characters
Censor the Sad Movies
Imagine - Him Her & Me
This is fictional entry in the Imagine series.