‘I had my pis­tols-at­noon mo­ment, but no rea­sons to fire’

Tehelka - - BOOKS -

WHEN I was 15, I once went to col­lect my gui­tar, given for re­pair at the only mu­si­cal in­stru­ment shop in Udaipur. Nor­mally, the shop was a des­o­late place with var­i­ous dusty in­stru­ments en­tombed in their plas­tic wrap­pings. That day it was abuzz with peo­ple.

A bear­ish as­sis­tant, who fixes the in­stru­ments, handed me my gui­tar. When I saw how bad a job he’d done, I was fu­ri­ous. The keys were askew, the neck had bent in a way that the higher notes came off muted, and he had drilled a few in­ex­pli­ca­ble holes to fas­ten the bridge. This job lay be­yond sal­va­tion. It was like ask­ing a burnt cake to un­bake. Still, and un­mind­ful of the prospec­tive buy­ers around me, I gave him an ear­ful, with in­struc­tions to undo ev­ery­thing. He was twitch­ing ner­vously. Per­haps that was anger. He beck­oned me to fol­low him to the base­ment.

Un­screw­ing the bolts from the gui­tar, he fumed: “Do you know how it feels to be in­sulted in front of your em­ploy­ers, that too by a small boy?” And be­fore I could

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