An Evening in the Life of the City Barber
The barber’s assistant was new; a young man in his mid twenties. His hands were not in harmony with the scissors and knife yet.
“Don’t’ do it that way. Didn’t I tell you a thousand times, Ganesh?” the barber said furious as Ganesh, moved his scissors on the hairs of the officer from the kind’s court. The young man looked at the barber. “But Raman dada, I did it well; this is how you taught me.” He muttered with fearful eyes. His lips remained silent.
“What are you staring at?” Raman barked. Ganesh nodded with his body stooping at his master’s wrath, much for fear than respect, though it seemed rather an expression of the later. “Raman dada…” the young man tried to say something.
“Yes?” Raman asked indignantly. The sound of bullock carts rang in the street next to the shop. The city was full that day and the shops were doing good business. Because on that day was their king’s birthday.
“Nothing…I am trying to do it as you taught me…” Ganesh said.
“Oh, now you started passing your judgments at me uh? What do you mean I taught it this way? you…I will kill you if I lose my business with your stupidities…” The officer in the seat looked at Raman and then Ganesh, aghast. Even though Raman was raving at his employee, the officer was happy with the work of the young assistant. And the barber’s wrath was unnecessary.
The young man’s face was pale from the insult heaped upon him by the nasty barber.
“What are you waiting for? You bugger!” screeched Raman. For a moment the young man stood still. Then he threw his scissors and knife on the floor with violent anger. He marched out of the barbershop, wordless.
For the barber, the British merchant and the Officer it felt like the sun melting down and the moon flown away by the fluttering of an eagle’s wings. It was like the most unlikely thing happened in the most unlikely of ways.
The day was receding into night. In the evening, the barbershop was visited by two messengers from the king. “You are asked to present yourself at the king’s court, now. Come with us.”
The barber had never before seen the king’s court and it seemed a place fit only for dreams. It was very much unreal, and it scared him, because he was there, wide awake, inside that dream. The court was full; with dancing and songs. As the messengers brought the barber, the music died down and the dancers teetered to each side. The throne glittered like a huge diamond, revealed in the middle at the far end of the court, and there on the throne was the king of Malabar.
“On this day, I have chosen someone special to be awarded for the generous lessons he gave my son. Here is Raman, the barber.” The king said.
The whole court rang with applause. The barber was flabbergasted. Some one entered the court from the grand entrance on one side. The court stood up. It was Ganesh, the barber saw it with a frightening stupor.
“Hail prince of Malabar!” The courtiers sang in one voice. The king stood up. There came on a platter, a heap of gold coins. Ganesh stood beside the king, smiling. The king said; “It was indeed, a great lesson. My son told me everything, Raman. You taught him what insult is and where is the limit at which one should draw lines to separate humiliation from insult. Take this small gift, as a token of appreciation.” And he gave Raman all the gold in the platter. The barber could not move his hands.
As the courtiers watched, his lips contorted, and his body sloped to one side, fell down. Emotional shock is like a ghost; a spirit, which finds curious ways to move in and out of human body. Sometimes they break into blood vessels and hide themselves in the skull, away from any physician’s observation.
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