Last Thursday I noticed a leak in my bathtub. I had it installed only a week ago. But when I went to the shop from where I had bought it from, its owner refused to replace it.
Disappointed and angry, I had to look for ways to repair the leak myself. However, as luck would have it, the same brand of bathtub was also being used by a judge and a retired military man.
Both gentlemen had also bought the leaky tub from the same shop. Having been apprised of this by a newspaper reporter, I decided to return to the shop just to see if it had replaced the defective tubs owned by the judge and the military man.
I was shocked to see that not only was the shop owner now willing to replace the gentlemen’s bathtubs, but he was also ready to return 50 per cent of the money that they had paid for it.
Well, first, the judge had successfully gotten the higher courts to issue a suo moto notice against the shop owner. Then his shop was visited by men in white shalwar kameez claiming to belong to an intelligence agency.
The men proceeded to beat him up, his staff and damage a number of brand new bathtubs and kitchen sinks on display at the shop. And for some odd reason the men took away a dozen or so commodes, both western and eastern style.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the shop owner also began receiving threats from some extremist organisations demanding that he stop selling bathtubs to Muslim women!
In fact when I went to the shop, the owner was showing a couple of policemen an explosive device that had been attached underneath one of the bathtubs at the shop.
“I’m selling off everything,” the agitated shop owner told me. “How many bathtubs do you want? Take as many as you like, for half the price. Just make sure there’s no bomb attached to it, or no suo moto notice floating over it, or the intelligence agencies don’t consider your bathtub to be a risk to national security.”
Poor sod, if only he had quietly replaced the defective bathtubs owned by the judge and the retired military man.
“They didn’t just want it replaced!” The shop owner shot back. “The judge insisted that I replace the bathtub brand name with his own and announce this by running ads on the front pages of all leading English and Urdu newspapers and across tickers on TV news channels!”
I was taken aback: “But why would the judiciary get involved in matters concerning a leaking bathtub?”
“You tell me,” said the shop owner. “Just this morning some reporters and cameramen from TV news channels visited my shop. They were asking me if the bathtubs were Swiss. I told them the bathtubs were Chinese but do you know what they said?”
“They said I was lying and that I was trying to give friendly Muslim countries like China a bad name!”
I scratched my head. “But China is not a Muslim country.”
“Exactly!” Said the shop owner, throwing up his arms in exasperation.
I then asked him what the retired military man wanted.
“He wanted me to build him a bathtub that was half swimming pool and half mini golf course.”
“Yes. That’s what he said,” explained the shop owner. “He also wanted rubber duckies that fired little missiles from their beaks when pressed. Can you believe that?”
“No, I can’t.”
“It’s true,” the shop owner insisted. “He said the duckies were vital to national interest.”
“But why did his men take away the commodes?” I asked.
“Same thing, national interest,” he replied.
“Both western and eastern style commodes?” I enquired.
“Yes,” said the shop owner. “They said the sensitive geopolitical situation of the region required that I hand over all kinds of commodes.”
“Whose geopolitical situation?” I asked. “The country’s or the military man’s?” I asked, chuckling.
But the shop owner remained serious and worried: “And then the threats by the extremists arrived. They said they didn’t like me selling bathtubs to women. They said I should only be selling lotas to them.”
When he refused, the extremists fitted a bomb underneath one of the bathtubs at his shop. It’s a good thing that it didn’t explode.
“But one of them did explode!” The shop owner half-shouted, now almost sounding delirious. “And do you know how the media reported the explosion? It said the explosion was caused by a water-heating device underneath the bathtub. And they kept calling it a Swiss bathtub!”
The shop was closed down and the owner booked for three crimes: For bringing the judiciary into disrepute; for compromising the country’s security and insulting its armed forces; and for selling (Swiss) bathtubs with dangerous heating devices.
But the good news is, only yesterday he was finally let off and allowed to go, but only when he agreed to meet certain conditions laid down by the courts: Change the brand name of the bathtubs from Pearl Bath, to Chief Hamam; give away free rubber duckies with the bathtubs bought by, nay, gifted to, former military personnel; and, of course, if he only sold lotas to women.
He still refused to replace my bathtub, though. And the reason?
“Sorry, bhai, our shop’s replacement policy does not cover common civilians. And now if you would excuse me, I have a fresh consignment of rubber duckies to unload. Have a nice day.”