I am a washer man for the last forty years working hard to make people look clean and smart. My parents were also from the same community and profession, and I am certain that all my children will also take to this profession, as two of them have already taken to it.
I took up this profession because I found it easier than picking up any other, as, I knew its pros and cons, and educating me to it was no problem.
Washing clothes is, as I believe a highly skilled job as, it is we who make people look smart and good as if they were laundered. However, in my time things were different but now, my children find it difficult to make two ends meet when they follow this profession, so, this is dying out fast. This is because, my parents as I remember had a fixed clientele and they never had to look for work.
The same applied to me and my career as; I found it no problem to manage a home with the income of a washerman. However, since the dawn of the age of mechanisation every house in every city and specially Delhi where we live has a washing machine. People wash their clothes at home and then they give us their clothes only for ironing.
With this, automatically, the charges for only ironing being less, we find it difficult to make two ends meet. I realise the problem my children are having so most of them like to get out of this mundane and tiring profession.
Two of my sons have started this and two others have left it and started working in an office. With this sort of an attitude to this profession, I wonder how long it will last. The washing machine has almost displaced us and put us out of jobs, and the luck of our professionals is I think in the dumps.
Though the job was tiring and strenuous but, there was never any problem of earning a living but now, even that is quite difficult. We had fixed clients and a fixed income enough for our survival but now, since my sons have come into this profession, life is becoming rather difficult. The struggle is mainly in looking for clients, and with just ironing it is difficult to make two ends meet.
Even now I help my sons but it is not very promising. However, this cloud also has a silver lining and, even now, there are still some people who like to have their clothes washed by us and they are our only hope, and we look for them.
I have found some people in the colony who give us clothes to both wash and iron and, it is with this money that we are able to pull on our daily expenditure. Life for us is a challenge now, in this modern world of the elite. I hope people will still confide in me and my other friends more than the mechanical friend they have found.
Life is undoubtedly difficult for us washermen, but, at times I feel ever so happy. Can you guess when? I feel so happy when I seen men, women and children looking beautiful and smart, wearing the clothes that I or my children have washed and ironed. It makes me feel absolutely thrilled to see the result of my work, and all the tiredness is swept off my mind.
It appears as though we have had enough compensation for our labour. It is quite apparent that me and my other washermen colleagues will soon be washed away from the scene of the Indian society, and will be totally replaced by our rival the washing machine.
Let us see what happens in the future, for the present, let me keep my fingers crossed for, as soon as this profession gets extinct we will all face a financial crisis, as, we are not capable of doing any other work. I wonder if things become worse and, a day may come when an engineer may invent an ironing machine, and that will be our doomsday. Then the profession will be snatched of all its importance. God help us and see that at least this much is maintained for us.
The biggest tragedy of the life of a washerman is that, though he is instrumental in making big bosses look bosses, he himself is supposed to be of a low caste and is looked down. People forget that whatever they look is because of our handiwork.