Dad, I & Taylors After waiting for long, my Dad at last got his Deepavali Hamper & cash bonus from hands of his boss ss Vasan. It was just a day prior to Deepavali festival. After providing for new cotton clothing for my junior sister and saree blouse for Amma, he was left with funds just sufficient for shirting for himself and me. While chinnalambatti saree-blouse for mom and cotton சீட்டி pavadai ( petticoat) set for my young sister were quickly purchased, shirting for him and me he toured a bit and finally purchased from shop closer home -General stores at pycroft's road-Triplicane. He took me to a forty plus old gents' taylor shop established decades ago situated in a rotting vegetable cum mutton market proximity to our home. He handed my checkered-brown Cotton shirting-cloth and said in tamil "Panicker - take shirt measurement for the boy and get it stitched to deliver by evening". Panicker with tobacco stuffed in mouth, measured the shirting cloth with his inch-tape & returned the cloth back into the hands of dad, telling "this cloth is not sufficient for stitching a slack shirt for the boy". Dad was confident that he had purchased sufficient cloth and held Panicker's statement dubious. He politely bade good bye to him. We proceeded to another young taylor new to the locality who had set up shop recently in the adjacent lane. Dad made the request. He with a smile, took measurement of cloth and my body as well. Then he said shirt will be ready by next day 4 am and stitching charges would be Re 1 & 4 annās. Dad as usual, haggled for substantial reduction in stitching charges and taylor reluctantly agreed to charge Re one. Then he took me to Mount Road round-tana where at its centre there was a tall bulky black-stone-statue of then stodgy-podgy chief-minister Kamaraj. The index finger of right hand of Kamaraj was pointing to a sindi-taylor shop adjacent to a British-time English movie theatre "New Elphinstone". Dad & I entered the shop. A diminutive sindhi proprietor, full of glee received us with open arms. Dad handing his immaculate sanforized white cotton-shirting to him, said "stitch a full sleeve bush-shirt for me and deliver it by 8 O'clock today evening . For the taylor - my Dad was a VIP because he had secured for him annual costumes-stitching-contract for salaried artists of Gemini film producer ss vasan - then known for box-office collection hit movie CHANDRALEKA. So, he must hv decided to accord over-riding priority for stitching dad's shirt and so said "ok Sir. The stitched shirt shall be delivered as you please" and added that the bush-shirt would be ready around 9pm. It was 2 in the bright afternoon at home. I was longing to join my street friends to play street cricket in somewhat warm breeze and later be content with watching few of them 'lighting' the crackers. It was lot of fun to watch boys and little girls attempt to light crackers and their rechecking half-burnt wicks whether spark is still on or off in already wick extinguished. Urchins of the locality would pick up those crackers which did not ignite immediately after lighting them. Once a boy picked up and pocketed a cracker that did not explode after lighting it. But alas after shoving it into his already bulged pocket of half trousers the bloody bomb exploded. Many cheap crackers were only damp squib and never used to get lighted easily with help of burning incense stick. Perhaps they were all exposed to dews of dawn. Dad instructed that he & I must go to Taylors and collect the stitched shirts in good time. I was looking forward to the next day to dawn and the anointed body hot-water- wash preceded by chewing betal leaves -வெற்றிலை, followed by swallowing Digestive paste ( தீபாவளி மருந்து) & then to wear the new shirt to enjoy munchings snacks & sweets & to get excited in watching glowing soft sparklers lighted by others. Dad and I walked up to the sindhi taylor shop exactly at 9pm. Proprietor Tekchandani (T) came running to welcome us with open arms. Dad and I were looking at tbe thick glass-topped cutting table.His white shirting-cloth was jutting out from a hindi newspaper role. Dad seemed exasperated at the sight of his shirting lying in the news paper role. He said tad loudly in anguish "Oh My God! Only few hours for the festival and you are yet to scissor my shirting. You would deliver only for next year Deepawali". Tekchandani neutralised dad's fear with endearing words and was full of smiles ear to ear. "Sir that is not your shirting cloth. Your shirt is ready. One moment ". He pushed aside a blue curtain; went behind and shouted to some one and spoke few words ought to be in sindhi. Then returning to us said "sir, it is ready: only buttons are to be stitched. I trust you had finished your dinner yet?" Dad ignoring his false concern, simply said, "Ok. Ok. I shall wait". A glossy dog-eared decade old English Vogue magazine was lying on thick glass top. I got busier looking at the athletic image of man in full brown suit on its wrapper. T offered us drinks in "kali" mark heavy glass-bottle that contained glass-marble stopper. Dad declined the offer. He also didn't allow me too to take it. A while later, T handed the just pressed warm full-hand-shirt. There was no trial room. In presence of me & T, Dad tried it immediately in that narrow passage. He Looked at the image of himself in a life size mirror fixed at the entrance. T was helping dad to button the shirt. But then I giggled and could see only dad's eyes turned red - result of controlling his anger that was reaching paroxysmal. He stared for a while at T and softly told him, "Look Mr.T. Do I not look like buffoon in this shirt you made". His index finger pointing to the Kamaraj statue opposite, said, "You took my measurement and stitched shirt for Kamaraj?" Glowing in yellow light, Kamaraj statue seemed to be smiling at us. With mounting disappointment, we walked homewards. We woke up at 3am the next day. Mom urged us to be quick with rituals assiciated with this Gangasnan-bath: that sacred hot water warmoil-bath. Tamarind washed Copper-boiler crossed the mind. To collect my shirt, dad and I went to the young taylor shop. A toddler at that hour giggling around was already wearing a brown-chequered slack shirt made probably from my shirting. My shirt was ready. He delivered it with a smile . Dad applied tiny damp dots of turmeric & vermilion to the collar corners of the shirt and gave it to me to wear it there itself. I was ecstatic to wear it immediately. Dad and I were satisfied. Instead of going home, dad made me walk to that taylor Paniker shop. Taylor Panicker with heavy eye-lids was still busy at his stitching machine. Dad drew his attention and hugged me closer to himself and said, "Look here Panicker. Look here - you said cloth was not sufficient. But other young taylor stitched shirt not only of correct size for my boy but also made shirt from surplus cloth for his boy too. Panicker was unperturbed to my dad's acriminious statement but answered it by another question. "What is the age of that boy of other taylor?" Exasperated - dad answered "TWO years". Panicker instead of retorting, calmly averred "Sir, My boy is NINE years old".