Last nail in the box

It was a hot day, even for summer. I recently moved into this city for my new job. It has been three weeks since I had been staying in the club house. The club house was a temporary accommodation, sponsored by the company, until I found a place to stay. The club house was good but the pain of travelling long distance to office surpassed the joy of free-of-charge stay. The stress of the new job and the long commuting hours left me exhausted by end of the day. By the time I reached club house, the staff would have left the place and it would be just me, all by myself. Later, I started buying some food on my way back which became my daily dinner – a sandwich and tangy tomato soup with no tanginess. My desperation to move out of the club house to someplace closer to the office was beyond compare. In the previous week, I finally managed to find a decent place nearby office.

For the next day I took leave from the office as I had to be present at home to receive the delivery of my furniture and other stuff. The transport guy arrived at 11 am, an hour later than the time promised earlier. He was a man in his late forties, shabbily dressed with hair disheveled as if he had just got a shock of 1000 Watt electric current. He was the only person to drive the truck as well as unload the furniture. Feeling sympathetic, I decided to help him to unload and move the stuff into the house. Even for two of us, it took almost two hours to completely shift the furniture from the truck to the house, let alone to unpack and re-arrange everything.

I settled his payment in cash, offered him a glass of water and started unwrapping one of the boxes. I wanted to put the framed picture of God on the wall first, before setting up other things in the house. The transport guy, still standing in the room, was counting the money, just to ensure he got the right amount. The box that I was opening contained a few framed pictures of God and few glassware items wrapped in old clothes. As I opened and took few items out, I was disappointed to see one of the glassware broken, rest of the items remained unscathed. The transport guy peered over my shoulders to see the broken pieces of glassware in my hands. He stopped the counting of the notes, perhaps missed a number and wanted to re-count. As I was looking at the broken glassware, for few moments, I became sad and then angry at my stupidity for not wrapping them sufficiently. I was angry but I wanted to blame the transport guy – he anyways came an hour late and did not even bring anyone along with him who could have helped in unloading all the stuff. Actually, I did half of the work and still paid him the full amount. He couldn’t even do his job of safely transporting my stuff, no matter how poorly packed by me.

As I was thinking about accusing him of carelessness, I felt his hand on my shoulder, “I am sorry. I drove very slowly and had even secured all boxes rigidly.” I turned around to express my displeasure at him but the moment I looked at his apologetic face my anger vanished. He was now taking some of the money in other hand to return to me. I was just standing there watching him as feeling of guilt washed over me. Perhaps, I know why he was dressed shabbily and doing all the work alone. He was not trying to make more money but rather just trying to make some money, whatever he could. Perhaps he was the only breadwinner in his family. He offered me the money for the damage but I refused, “It is not your fault. It was not packed properly. You should keep the money.” I could see a tint of relief mixed with gratefulness in his eyes. “Can I help you with something else?” he asked, with utmost sincerity. As I looked around and thought there was not much to do, my eyes fell upon the framed picture of God. I asked him if he could help me with some tools. I asked, “If he had any tools to put a nail in the wall. I wanted to hang a picture of God before setting up other things.” “Sure thing, I will get my tools.” he said, with a feeling of pride and satisfaction.

Between a swollen thumb and his four unharmed fingers, he was holding a nail in his right hand and a hammer gripped firmly in the left one. Out of the 50 nails in a box, only 3 were left in their original shape. The floor was full of nails bent into different shapes – most of which appeared similar to English alphabets such as L, V and even S. Apparently, the transport guy was not as good with the tools as he was with his truck. My persistent requests of taking over the task of hammering the nails were met by his immediate denial and growing enthusiasm of hitting the nail harder, albeit in wrong places. I was now regretting for asking him to help me. My feeling of guilt of mere thinking of blaming him, for the broken glassware, was now being slowly replaced by the feeling of remorse and frustration. That guy had wasted almost two hours in his futile attempt at helping me put a nail in the wall. He had not even hit a single nail correctly into the wall. I had somehow managed to get one day leave despite of my new job, alas all in vain. It was already late afternoon yet there was so much work left to be done. I couldn’t even think from where to begin. I had decided that I won’t let him continue any further. No matter how he feels I have got to get him out of my house, now. My train of thoughts was broken by strong metallic sound of hammer being repeatedly hit at a nail. It was the last nail but he had managed to get it right this time. With each hit, the nail was slowly sinking into the concrete wall like a man sinking in the quicksand. I sighed in relief as I need not humiliate him by asking him to leave abruptly. On the other hand, his happiness knew no bounds as he kept hammering at the nail which was already half-way inside the wall. Lost in his moment of bliss, he kept hammering with every ounce of energy left in him. He had become obsessed with the last nail just like when Thomas Edison discovered success after his 10,000 failed experiments. I stood there in amusement as he hammered the last bit of the nail inside the wall. The nail was completely buried into the wall. Beaming with pride and happiness, he turned around to look at me with his sparkling eyes and grinning teeth. And I was staring at him, trying to figure out if he was stupid or cunning.

Image by Jessica Merz


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