Ravi Speaks-‘A Carpenter and a Cobbler’- A close childhood observation.



Ravi Speaks: -


UPDATED ON 19.05.2022. 

‘A Carpenter and a Cobbler’-

A close childhood observation.


Today while sitting on my balcony, I saw a man who was very thin and lean with a very frail structure and probably an electrician by profession since he was doing the wiring work in my adjacent house, which was getting ready for the occupation. This man reminded me of a similar character I had seen for years together in my early childhood when I was hardly ten years of age while living in Julaka Mohalla-Jammu.

Carpenter ‘Kartara’ during my childhood days: -

That person was a very famous Carpenter and we used to call him “Kartara”. I mean as you very well know- a carpenter is a worker who builds or repairs wooden structures or their structural parts.

For carpenters I am reminded of a very good quote that we were taught in our childhood- - “Just like the carpenter saw each of these disciples in a plain block of wood, so Jesus sees disciples in each of us. If we let Him shape us and carve away our sins, then we too can be saved. There is perfect within imperfect. A carpenter sees and creates what we need to survive.”

This ‘kartara’ was always under the influence of liquor and he used to have a small bottle of local wine called the ‘Desi-sharab’ in his pocket of the loose pajama which he used to wear always with a yellowish-white Kurta with a color. He was an expert in his work and knew very well how to build or repair wooden structures or their structural parts. We used to call him for some similar work at our house as and when the need was there. He would come and do his job with no talk or disturbance and after getting his money he would simply say thanks and move on.

A Known Drunkard in the whole Mohalla:-

I knew his residence also-which was hardly around half a kilometer away from our house on the backside near a very well-known Sheikh Amin’s Kothi/Building. He was very poor and had a wooden small hutment type where his wife and two sons were with him. Many times I had seen him lying outside his wooden hutment on the roadside completely under the influence of liquor in an unconscious condition. Even his wife and children would also not open the door for him in such a condition. He was really a chronic alcoholic so much that one day he could not get the alcohol and somehow managed the methylated spirit and drank the same spirit. His condition became again very precarious and his two sons along with his neighbors took him to the SMGS hospital-where he was kept under observation for many days. Even after he came back, we thought that he would have stopped taking the liquor after that hospitalization. But to our surprise, he continued consuming the same with no stoppage. Finally, one day while I was returning from my school to home I saw people taking his body for the cremation. When I inquired as to how it all happened from my neighbors- I came to know that one day prior he was recovered from the side drain of the tight street-where after consuming a lot of liquor he had dumped himself into the flowing water of the drain and till the time he was brought to his home-he had expired. He must have been hard in his late forties, but this Desi Liquor had made his body so frail that he looked as if he was over sixty. He disturbed no one around him and used to be always in a smiling mood-which actually was his influenced condition after consuming the liquor. Later I started seeing his two sons attending the shop he had, and they too were doing the same carpenter’s job.

Katara's sons took the Batton after him: -

After a few months, I found the shop getting a new touch and its appearance also improved. The sons started devoting regular hours of labor there and got good work too. Slowly and steadily the shop became very popular and these two guys shifted their work to a far-off place which was around a couple of miles away from their residence in the ‘Rehari area’ of Jammu. They were around twenty when they shifted from the Mohalla to ‘Rehari’.

I started thinking that these two guys would now increase their business and would flourish. But it was not like that and things had happened contrary to one’s expectations. I came to know later that these two guys started quarreling with each other and one of them had left the factory which they had made in Rehari and started doing some private job. The one who was handling the factory went into the same mold as his father and started drinking like a fish and became a drunkard. Again after hardly a couple of years of their separation, this man too died. Their mother was alive and their families too were there. Both of them had married in between but they had started living separately.

Kartara’s magical work still in use after 35 years: -

I remember we had a big box like a double bed-which ‘Kartara’ had made and it was till 2010 with us in Jammu so strong and solid that we used to keep the winter woolens into that wooden box and use it is bedding as well. Why I mentioned 2010-because that year my revered mother had expired and the same box was given to one of our neighbors since we had to despatch some of the heavy items at that time. This wooden box was 35 years old made in 1975 by ‘Kartara’.

How Liquor demolishes the families: -

See how the families get totally spoilt generation after the generation-when this worst vice clings onto their bread-earners. Much as he could have controlled his vice he could not do so and the same thing went on to spoil his body and Health-stature. Finally, his condition became such that even his own blood relation isolated him. He used to bring his earnings to them and in return, he was not given any respect by his own children and spouse. Slowly, and steadily he must have realized that he had reached a point of no return and there was no scope of any improvement since this liquor had spread like a real addiction-which finally leaves the person only after he breathes his last.

Even his son whom we thought would rise to a better standard of life-also followed the same suit. Maybe whatever he did to his father and even his brother -he must have started realizing his own follies committed. And it was all the result of his own approach towards his father and his blood relations that he had to pay the price so heavily.

Yet again this cobbler was a genius: -

The similar thing I saw in the same street with a cobbler-who too used to take Desi Liquor in the evening. I mean Cobbler, a person who repairs, and sometimes makes, shoes and not the Cobbler- who illegally forges passports and other documents. I used to go to his shop for the repair of my shoes in the same street as my hometown. He had been there for years and years in the same spot and was really a literal magician. He was a magician because there were no computers those days but this guy was a genius – obviously now a dying breed. The place-I mean the shop smelled of leather and glue and it was an art form as much as a service.

One day I went to get my shoes mended and found in the shop his wife and a small kid. When I asked as to where was he-I came to know that he was admitted to the hospital and had a very narrow escape just one night prior. It may look to be a laughing story but seriously conveys many lessons.

See what this Cobbler did with his leather cutter?

This cobbler had a small fight with his wife one night prior and since he was under the influence of liquor he took the metallic cutter-which was normally used by him for cutting the leather and with the help of his left hand stretching the tongue outside the mouth, he cut that portion with the same cutter and in the wild-rage threw that portion of flesh into the side drain-which used to be open. It is said that in the very fast reacting manner his wife jumped into the side drain and took out the small flesh piece of the tongue and wrapped it into a handkerchief. The cobbler was very badly bleeding from the cut in the tongue and being under the influence he was immediately taken to the SMGS hospital by the neighbors and admitted there. The surgery was done immediately and it took quite a few hours for the surgeons to do the microsurgery on his tongue. Later after say around a couple of months when he started attending his shop, I being a very young fifteen-year-old went to him with a lot of eagerness to see as to whether his tongue was really repaired or not. I wanted to talk to him and found that his talk was not complete and his pronunciation too was all gone. So here is again a real-life example of the worst things happening as a result of consuming Liquor as a drunkard. Thank god in his case his hands were perfect and he could continue his cobbler’s job without any problem.

A Bad vice overpowers the good magical traits: -

Now, look at the magical powers this cobbler had, and at the same time, his bad vice of consuming the local liquor almost took his livelihood and even his life. The most unfortunate part in such cases is that even if these guys are saved from death they still tend to pave the same way and follow the same destructive direction since all the good things which are conveyed to them and even the attempts to change their thinking process with the sole aim of de-addicting them from such addictions go as a mere exercise in futility. Of course, a few may be quoted as the exceptions here.

Poverty alone is not the contributory factor for sticking to bad vices: -

Poverty may be the one causative factor for such situations but getting into this addiction and spoiling one’s own life along with his family directly getting affected-the lack of education and awareness with a proper understanding of what is good or bad for them- is equally another major contributory factor for their destruction. All the government policies come with full emphasis on such segments as de-addiction centers, educational awareness programs, adversities due to alcohol and its remedial programs, etc., etc. But the million-dollar question still after forty-five years of the above happenings remains as to “How much success we could get out of all such initiatives”. It seems that we are just filling the blanks but not really going seriously about wiping out such menaces from our societies and communities.


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