When I was in second standard, I had read the story of a buffalo. I believe it was wallowing in the muddy water in a state of bliss. The owner thought it had enjoyed enough and was trying to get it out. He called out but the calls were ignored. He took a thick stick and hit the buffalo hard on its back. It made a big sound.
The buffalo felt it heard something and thought, “I hear some noise close by”
Second blow “I think someone is hitting something”
Third blow “Am I feeling anything on my back?”
Fourth blow “I feel a stick!”
Fifth blow “Someone hitting me, must be the master” and it slowly got out of water.
We were just like this buffalo in realising that there was something wrong with our new sofa set.
My wife had ordered the set after a search spreading over, believe it or not, twenty years! If I explain the process, it would be a novel on its own and I have no intentions of keeping you occupied for a week.
We were very happy that at last someone in this world had been able to produce something to suit our living room and installed it with due ceremony. The arm chair, a cane chair, a metal folding chair and two very old stools which had served in our living room over the years were considered unworthy companions for the new sofa set and were sent to spend their remaining life in the back room. We repositioned the TV and the telephone to suit the sofa and changed the window curtains to match the cushions. At last we had comfortable seating in our living room and we spent almost all our time at home on the new sofa and repeatedly exclaimed how comfortable we felt. Once I got carried away and slept on it putting my feet up and was severely admonished for my lack of sensitivity.
It was about two months later that my son first mentioned that though the sofa was very very comfortable he needed to re adjust his position every now and then to enjoy the comfort. But we believed that our sofa was next only to the mother’s womb and asked him to shut up and practice proper sitting posture.
Mr James Herriot, the veterinarian - author, writing about the inconveniences that he had to face in the cold barns of Yorkshire while calving, writes that if you need to know the most comfortable place in a barn, look where the cat is. Our son is our house cat. When he shifted to the swing, we should have known that the sofa is doomed. But we were not sharp enough. It was just the first blow.
Another two months went by before I discovered that if I sat on the sofa for long I started sliding down gradually and ultimately found myself in a very awkward position with my back on the seat and only the head on the backrest. I had started pulling a small foot stool closer, to rest my legs which were hanging without support. With lot of hesitation I expressed some doubts about the sofa but it was rubbished by my wife. She said that I am unable to remain stationary in a place for long and need to blame my fidgety limbs for that. I was not sure of myself and thought maybe she is right.
Some more months later I found my wife sitting on the sofa, sideways, with her back resting on the arm rest and her feet stretched out on the cushions. She said that she had better view of the TV screen that way and that she might have shifted to that position without her knowledge while she was preoccupied with the programme!
So, it was more than a year by the time we started getting serious doubts about the comfort level of our sofa and tried to find out what was wrong. After measuring the legs, seats, backrest and arms and experimenting by stuffing newspapers behind the backrest, below the cushions and elevating the front legs by placing magazines beneath them, we pin pointed the trouble. The seat of the sofa was higher at the back than in the front instead of being the other way and the inclination given to the back rest was more than normal. One and a half years had passed by the time we decided that our proud possession was defective.
We were very much upset. My wife cursed the carpenter and the friend who had recommended him. She cursed herself for buying the sofa and blamed me for agreeing with her decision without argument and fight, thereby eliminating chances of change of mind.
The sofa did not come with any guarantee/ warrantee, and I had not even kept the hand written receipt. More over we had no face to go to the manufacturer and point out the defect one and a half year after it was purchased. We had to live with it. But every time we sat on the sofa, we were reminded of our misfortune and so, it was shifted out of sight to my waiting room. My wife said that since my patients are very much pre occupied with their tooth ache and were prepared for bigger discomforts like my treatment, it did not matter if the seat was also a bit irksome. But I noticed that even when the waiting room was crowded, this sofa was empty and people preferred to stand outside in the compound rather than sit on it.
I knew that there was no point in complaining about it , two years after buying it, but could not resist the urge to tell the makers that they had bungled up our sofa and that we fools had failed to notice their blunder in time . There was nothing to lose anyway.
When I visited Margao the next time, I went across to M/s Keni enterprises and casually informed the clerk that we were not at all happy with our purchase. He said that he would inform the owner and get back to me. I did not expect anything more from him.
I was very much surprised to find an elderly gentleman at our door after two days who introduced himself as Mr. Keni, the proprietor of Keni enterprises. He said that he had come to see the sofa about which he had received a complaint and had brought his chief carpenter with him. He sat on the sofa for some time, asked the carpenter to take measurements, agreed that it was defective and apologised for having delivered a defective piece! He said that correcting the defect would mean almost redoing it but assured me that it would be done at the earliest.
The next week he sent a vehicle to collect the sofa, and fifteen days later we received our sofa back in brand new condition perfectly done. It had been dismantled, repaired and re polished. In the bargain, all the minor chippings and major scratches caused by my hammer, my son’s dumbbell and younger son’s cricket bat had also been eliminated. I am sure that Mr. Keni had incurred considerable trouble and expenses but he never mentioned anything and only called to enquire whether we were happy with the outcome.
I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and he brushed it off saying “This is how we maintain our reputation and relations.”
My car is still awaiting a new motor for the ‘power window,’ eight months after I was assured that it would be done in a week. My son’s lap top is with the service centre for the last two months awaiting arrival of a mother board or father board or whatever that was defective. I have paid a considerable sum for ‘additional warranty’ on both these and am yet to derive any benefit out of it. When this is the state of the world I am living in, I just can’t help expressing my heartfelt gratitude for Mr Keni and wishing “may his tribe increase.”
PS: I have no particular interest in trying to increase the population of our already over populated country by my wishes. When I was in high school, we had a poem which began “Abu Ben Adam, may his tribe increase! Awoke one night from a dream of peace!.” It was one of the very few that I have been able understand till date. I liked the phrase for no particular reason and have tried using it when I got a chance.
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