When the dreaded early morning bell wakes me up on Mondays, I groan and moan like no man has ever groaned and moaned. The massage man is never late, and he’s never absent. To my sheer chagrin, he turns up week after week and even gives me a mild chiding for looking sleepy and reluctant when I let him in.
His mastery over his age-old craft is such, however, that once he gets to work, one feels rejuvenated with every passing minute and forgets all negativities that had earlier clouded the mind. He goes about his business, pushing, pulling, slapping and knocking me all over the place, with the result that almost every component of the body is woken up and beaten up in no uncertain terms.
If that had been all, life would have been quite simple. But that is not all. There is much more to the massage man.
His ability to double up as a barber is one factor. He insists on giving one a haircut every month. And then he tells one in graphic detail about how he undertakes about 50 such haircutting operations under his tree every day, apart from attending to a dozen home calls.
Many bureaucrats would balk at the idea of getting a haircut from an under-the-tree-barber. Not so the members of the large sarkari network that our man has established over the years. Legend has it, in fact, that our masseur-cum-barber makes his clientele look much better than any glossy and expensive parlour could ever manage.
The real excitement lies, however, in our hero’s ability to handle this huge client network with aplomb, and even to mend strained relationships that sometimes develop between officers. Never has a harsh word escaped his lips, for anyone. He regularly quotes one Sahib ji to another and proclaims to the client at hand that the other Sahib ji has always been full of praise for him.
In fact one often fails to keep track of which particular Sahib ji he is on about, since it is not easy to be on the alert while feeling relaxed during a massage!
At times he takes a break from the action, calls up one of his favourite Sahib jis, and hands the phone to the poor Sahib ji at hand before he can resist, thereby breaking the ice between the concerned officers in no uncertain terms.
Once, in fact, while I was literally on the mat, a Minister ‘Sahib ji’ called him up and asked why he had not turned up that morning. Innocent as he is, he proclaimed to the senior political figure that he was occupied at that time with lowly me, and therefore would be late for the Minister “Sahib ji’s’ appointment. I felt worried about the Minister’s ire but fortunately both of us escaped any admonition, only due to the P.R skills of my expert service provider.
He could easily have been a top Sahib ji himself, such are his qualities of head and heart. In a way, he is the top boss even now, for he literally floors quite a few Sahib jis every week!