Crumpled Collar

I don’t quite believe in reincarnation. The continuous cycle of birth and death till we are released from it by virtue of good deeds. I’ll admit however that the idea is fascinating. I have seen enough of television and read and heard ‘true’ stories to seriously consider the possibility of its existence. There are even these bloggy things that quiz you and tell you who you were in your previous life – those of course are the more fatuous kinds, yet I amuse myself once in a while of what it could have been in that life, which I don’t have memory of. And yet…

I somehow have this recurrent moving visual of this person, once upon a time, who was sentenced to death, who I often see walking up to the gallows to be hung by rough braided hemp. It is a long walk to the gallows and there is obviously something serious about the crime that he has committed. The people stand at the sides and watch him; there is obvious hate in their eyes. Yet not a word is spoken, not a curse uttered. I see this man very clearly – there is no shame or guilt on his face – he is unrepentant. His open chest carries the reminders of beatings in deep and dark dungeons; the bleeding cuts sharp at the edges and open in the middle. He stands tall on his weary feet. Warm beads of sweat attempt to liquefy the dried clots on his forehead. There is something very adamant about the small smile on his face. It is not a smirk. The onlookers hardly bother him; neither do the heavy chains that his legs are dragging ahead of the small dust clouds that they create. On his hands, hang the rest of the heavy metal links that seem featherweight, due to the manner of the slight swagger that he has. Yet ever so often those hands move up to his neck, shifting and spacing out the metal collar on his neck, he sticks a couple of fingers under the collar – a passage for air. The collar seems to be the only thing that bothers him, irritates and hurts him. Not the silent curses from the people standing, not the periodic cane from his tormentors, not the final noose that is a few yards in front of him. The collar hurts him. It is sharp and roughly cut, mercilessly nailed onto bent wood. Made in haste, almost, eager to bind the dead man walking. It cuts at the skin on his neck, makes it red and burns. The way his hands go at the collar, he seems to have only one dying wish – before the noose tightens one last time – he wants to breathe easy. I see him walk slowly towards his executioner. The only other obvious movement, other than his slow rhythmic walk towards the gallows, is his hand wanting to tear at the collar, destroy it with his bare hands. The collar it seems is the enemy that won’t let him die in peace. The scene somehow repeats in an infinite loop till it fades away into a blank white sheet.

I have seen this scene so many times that my skepticism about reincarnation fades a shade, every time this scene plays itself. Every morning; it comes to me every morning when I start my day. It is as crisp as a freshly ironed shirt, when I iron it, i.e. I know who I see. I know this person. I know him in this life.

He is the man who irons my shirts, here in Mumbai.

I have gone to the extent of offering him more money per shirt, if only he would bring my “ironed” shirts, without mangled collars. I have threatened to shift my dwindling loyalty to the competing laundry-man, if he continues to crumple the most hardened collar I have ever bought. I even pleaded with him, and demonstrated, how difficult it is to wear a tie with a crumpled collar – all to no avail.

I have to iron the collars of my shirts before I wear them, or I have to ditch the tie.

The scene plays in my head every morning, I see him walking towards the gallows, scratching at his collar, wanting to destroy it. I have seen him in this life. He is still at it.


17 thoughts on “Crumpled Collar

  1. ==Neo:

    Welcome to Gaizabonts!

    Er…I was hoping it would be funny, really. 😉

    Well, in that case I’ll check and see if I see more people going towards the gallows! LOL


  2. I wonder what you need to accomplish so that you can move past this. Who knows how you affect the laundry man, you might not be on his radar, but he has come to you with this persistent role in your life.

    I’m so curious and glad to have read this. I am very happy that you are paying attention and that you have a chance to decipher the messages you are receiving…

    I had a friend once that said that everyone has a ‘petty tyrant’ that makes them crazy because of some small but persistent problem they bring. The thing is too, that we are all supposedly petty tyrants to someone else, causing them trouble without knowing or especially trying. Lastly, her idea included the thought that we may eventually rid ourselves of the petty tyrant, but that we end up getting a new one (and subsequently become a new one for someone else…)


  3. ==Dharma:
    Done deal! Anyways, the weather is best for comfortable clothes 🙂


    Wow! Actually this was written in a lighter vein. I think I know how I affect him – I did speak with him about this, in fact. I asked him why he would destroy the very value that he created – after toiling to iron the shirt, why would he crumple the collars. He obviously didn’t have a logical answer.

    Tell your friend I loved the theory. I have applied this theory pretty much to everyone I know. It works!

    PS & off-topic: when is radiotooth becoming official?


  4. Hey, thanks for the interest in radiotooth.

    Radiotooth is waiting for me to get my letter of admission done for the fashion academy. And for the morsel to start school. Both will happen this week. I’ve been struggling with the letter but the deadline looms-

    Radiotooth feels bright and new, so it’s a good thing to focus on for the future.
    Let’s shoot for no-later-than October 1!


  5. ==Radiotooth:
    Have been looking everyday for the change! best wishes for the admission as well as to the morsel.

    Nice @ October ! – interesting date for me too. (Shhh)

    🙂 Long time, you doing well?


  6. Long time since I left a comment. But I’ve been a regular visitor, reading your posts and quietly slipping away only to come back for more.

    To use the cliche, “I’ve been busy”. Busy – not only in terms of things to do but also in terms of being preoccupied with thoughts that leave little room for contemplating anything else!


  7. Trains of thoughts, every now and then, urge me to make them “public”. Either I wait too long, by which time their impression on my mind progressively dimishes, or they are too delicate to reveal their very existence.

    I hope to break at least the first barrier this weekend.


  8. Pingback: Flavours of Funny | Gaizabonts

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