Rich Man, Poor Man,
Ploughboy, Thief. . .
(excerpt from Cherry Stones by A. A, Milne)
Today I stopped in at the tailor's to drop off some material. I took a seat and watched him trace patterns of light blue chalk across the saffron polyester that will be sewn into a blouse by Wednesday.
"How long have you been working in this shop?" I asked In'aam over the snipping of his large metal scissors.
I learned that he has worked as a tailor for 37 years all across India- in Delhi, Bombay (Mumbai), and now Northern India where he was born and raised.
He admitted that he is disappointed in his children for not wanting to learn the art he prides himself in.
"What do your children want to do instead?"
In perfect English In'aam told me about his 5 children. His two daughters are both in school working towards their master's degrees- one is currently studying in Virginia. One of his sons works in IT, another in hotel management. His youngest son is a senior in high school and excelling in his studies.
"You're children sound very smart," I complimented.
With a mischievous grin In'aam said, "Yes, they are just smart."
I laughed as I tried to figure out what was meant by a response that sounded like the belittling of his children's accomplishments.
I turned my attention towards In'aam's coworker who was humming along in the corner. He spoke no English and hardly paused long enough from his work to let on that he did anything other than sewing.
Sparing a moment, he lifted his head to meet my gaze. Either annoyed or disinterested with our conversation, he returned to the more imperative matter at hand, searching through a plastic container of buttons.
I sensed it was time to leave the two to their work. So, I thanked the tailors before leaving and promised to return next week to pick up my blouse.