Avinash was in hurry to go out and meet his friends in the playground. He lived in a hostel far away from home. Carelessly, in hurry, he turned the key anti clockwise in his wardrobe lock. The key broke into two pieces by the shoulder. He looked at the key bow in his hand and realized that it was the ending of his journey towards the playground. He could see the remaining part of the key inside the keyhole, stuck. There was no way he could open the lock now. He also needed to take out the jammed key. He tried to take out the stuck key part by his hand. Unable to progress, he sought a friends’ help and arranged a forceps to put it out from the wardrobe key hole. He did not have duplicate key for this lock. There was no way he could spend one day without opening his wardrobe. It contained all his clothes, necessary documents and laptop. He needed the key urgently.
He went to the nearby market place to search for a key maker. In that market, he could find all necessary and redundant shops but failed to find a key maker who could help him. After much searching, he went to a tea stall and asked the owner for a key maker’s reference. He was in luck. The tea shop owner referred him to the farthest corner of the market. He went ahead. At the end of the open market, he could see a hawker selling keys. The hawker did not have any permanent shop. He was sitting under a canopy set beneath a banyan tree. There was no customer in his shop. He only displayed some cheap locks and on one side he had his tool box. The hawker was resting leaning against the tree.
Avinash went ahead and showed him his key. He asked the man to have a look at the key and fix it.
“I can mend this key by soldering, but it will not last longer. If the key is important to you, you need to have a duplicate one as well. I can make it for you in thirty minutes” was the reply after initial observation of the broken key.
“Ok. First finish this one in hand by mending and then prepare the duplicate one fast. I am in hurry” said Avinash.
“Sir, key making is an art. It cannot be done within a minute. I have to be very careful while making the duplicate one. The duplicate key structure should match from shoulder to tip with original one; otherwise it won’t serve your purpose. I shall try as fast as I can” said the key maker smiling at him. He was pleased to finally have found a customer for the day.
Avinash stood in front of him. The key maker started soldering the broken one first. Within five minutes, it was ready. Then he took out instruments from his tool box to make the new one. After careful efforts and various attempts, he was able to create an exact match of the original key. He then examined both the structure under his lens for identical match for all curves and arches on both the keys. Finally the key was ready. The key maker was satisfied with his work and handed over keys to Avinash.
“How much do I need to pay for this?” asked Avinash, taking out his wallet from back pocket.
“Not much. Fifty rupees only.” replied the key maker while putting his instruments back into the box.
“Fifty rupees!! You charge fifty rupees for a single key. Why so much do you charge for this? It is too much for a duplicate key and a soldering job”. Avinash looked at him perplexed.
“Sir, I am here to earn my bread and butter. I do not rob people. This key making is an art. My father used to be a key maker. He taught me this artistry. My father learned it from my grandfather. We are in this business for years. I am no cheat. I only ask money for the efforts I have put in. No more, no less. Fifty rupees it is.”
“I can get another lock with new keys for hundred rupees. Why do I need to make a duplicate key for fifty rupees?” argued Avinash hoping this would make the key maker to less his wage.
“I sit here all day long for customers to come so that I can work on what my father taught me. Trust me; I do not earn a fortune with this job. At night, I work as a watchman in a factory for living. This art is not enough to make both ends meet. I happen to like this work of key making. People are now moving to modern locks that do not require any key. Day by day I am losing my customers. Still, I do not ask much from my customers. I only demand due pay for my efforts. Yes, you may get another lock with hundred rupees but my wage for this work is fifty rupees only.
If tomorrow you break the key of iron safe containing jewellery or deeds worth millions, I will not ask you for thousand rupees for a duplicate one. I will again ask you for only fifty rupees – my hard earned money”