A few days ago the flush tank in one’s upstairs bathroom sprung a leak, as flush tanks are wont to doing. While this in itself wasn’t a terrible thing, the fact that it happened on a well-timed Saturday morning, was. You see, one has come to terms with the sad reality that the powers that be, aka the maintenance folks that are supposed to do nice things like maintain one’s apartment, don’t take kindly to being called on Saturday mornings. One could perhaps call them, but getting them to actually come home on a Saturday is much like applying makeup on a pig — an interesting idea that can be executed in several different ways in theory, but all resulting in the same futile outcome — it doesn’t make a difference.
So one did the next best thing one could think of. One found a bright yellow plastic bowl that generally loiters around the house for no reason at all, and one stuck it under the flush tank. Water go drip-drip, bowl catches water, bowl emptied, bowl go back under tank and so on. Simple algorithm really. All Saturday and Sunday, one dutifully emptied said bowl of water, waiting for Monday morning to arrive.
And arrive it did. I walked into the bathroom, eagerly picking up bowl to empty it one last time, when .. <toink> .. bowl was empty! Ye kya ho raha hai, beta Duryodhan? I asked myself, looking around to see if the water had found a different escape route instead. But nopes. The tank was there, the bowl was there, but no water. The simple story of a bathroom leak had apparently turned into a thrilling case of a missing leak.
Now, kahaani-mein-twist-twist notwithstanding, I could no longer call maintenance. C’mon, it is one thing to have your blog readers snigger at you when you tell them sad tales of flush tanks that mysteriously stop leaking, but it’s a whole different level of gut-wrenching humiliation, when a workman arrives, armed with a gut and a wrench, and looks at you convinced that you are hallucinating. To add salt to your wounds, he will tell you gently, that the water was probably dripping into the tank like it is supposed to, and I, silly girl, just didn’t know the difference. And so, to avoid that moment of distress, anger and inevitable murder rampage, I waited for the dripping to resume.
And I waited and I waited and I waited. But as old bathroom wisdom will tell you — waiting for leak in bathroom does not always make leak happen. Um, well .. yeah. So one tolerated a hideous yellow bowl, sticking out like an eyesore in my bootifool lavender-and-white bathroom, staring at me emptily, mocking me, challenging me to make that call. I think I heard it gleefully cackle once even, but that might have just been the pipes conspiring. (Paranoia? Me? Nevvver.) But I was adamant. Water drip, maintenance come, I point, they fix, I smile smugly. That’s the way it was gonna play.
And along came today morning. After a cursory glance at the still empty bowl while I brushed my teeth, I went downstairs bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to start my day. I sat at my machine, ready to check some pointless mail, when .. <plop>. I looked around, wondering what that was about. Having no idea what makes a plop noise, I continued to work when .. <plop>. Again. So, before the story turned into the case of the unfathomable plop (everyone seems to want starring roles in this story, what to do), I decided to investigate. And what did I discover?
Plop, as it turns out, is the sound water makes when it drips from one’s ceiling and hits a glass table. No, not any ordinary glass table but one on which my precious, my lappytoppy sits. So I had a minor aneurysm. Then a nervous breakdown. And then a panic attack. And finally, after all that, I calmly picked up my laptop and relocated it to a warm, dry couch.
Now water plopping from the ceiling meant only one thing. The bathroom was misbehaving. So after muttering some unprintables about sipping dog-blood and what not, I scampered upstairs to find that the flush tank had exploded (or so it seemed), there was water water everywhere (nor any drop to drink, for all you Coleridge fans), and that the resourceful ants in the bathroom were building an ark to escape. And using my bathroom mats as improvised rafts, no less. I contemplated about what to do while I sang paanii paanii re, khaare paanii re from Maachis, and realized that lyrically pertinent Gulzar songs from Chandrachur Singh movies were not really going to help matters. So I did what any self-respecting bathroom owner would do. I emptied the bowl and picked up a mop.
I mopped to the rhythm of plop-plop-plop,
I wish this leak would stop-stop-stop!
I thought I could make a poem out of this,
But sadly, the idea has to drop.
And naturally, I was hop-hop-hopping mad. It is one thing that it stops leaking on a Monday morning trying to taunt me. But how can it go from Mandakini’s-clothes-in-a-Raj-Kapoor movie to a Mandakini-in-a-Raj- Kapoor-movie, that too without warning? (That’s ‘from nothing to an abundant Ganga‘ for those of you with movie-deprived childhoods. Tsk tsk.) So I called maintenance —
Me: Hello, I am calling to report a flood.
Me: This is an emergency. The upstairs bathroom flush tank is leaking. There’s water all over the floor which is now seeping through the floor of the bathroom and dripping down from the ceiling of the living room. Dripping onto my precious, um, I mean my stuff downstairs. So please come urgently. And oh, did I mention this is an emergency?
She: <calmly> Ah? So the bathroom is leaking?
Me: <trying to be calm> Yes.
She: Right now?
Me: (No, in an earlier incarnation of mine. <bhoot hoon main playing in background>)
Me: Yes, now.
She: There is water on the floor?
Me: There was water on the floor until two minutes ago. I just mopped it.
Me: Yes, I put a bowl under the drip, but it is dripping fast and will overflow anytime.
She: I see. So there is no water on the floor now?
Me: (If you ask me questions for another five minutes, there will be!)
Me: There is some. And the water is seeping downstairs into the living room ceiling.
She: I see.
Me: (You do?)
She: So tell me..
She: Is this the downstairs bathroom or the upstairs bathroom?
Me: <channeling Zen Buddhha> Upstairs.
She: Would you consider this an emergency?
Me: (Yes. And when I get my hands around your neck, you will consider it one too, I assure you.)
Me: <seething> If the water is seeping and leaking into the living room ceiling and dripping over the couches and tables, wouldn’t you consider it one?
She: Yes, ma’am, I would.
Me: (Yeah? Ya think? Really now?)
But wait. The story is not yet over. As Sangeeta Bijlani sang to a roomful of villain sideys in Tridev — ye to pehlaa jaam hai, abhi to shaam hai. So after asking me my apartment number and contact info, she says —
She: Okay, someone will be over.
Me: <eagerly> But when?
She: Um. Some time today or tomorrow.
Me: Eh? Today or tomorrow? Why the multiple choice answer?
Me: What part of it being an emergency do you not understand?
She: But we are blocked up, ma’am. Two of our maintenance guys are sick.
Me: <in despair> But my flush tank is sick too! Oh woe is me! The water will seep down, the wood will soak, the ceiling will weaken, it’ll all come crashing down on my head and I’ll never be able to see my precious ..
She: <interrupting me> I’ll have someone over today itself, ma’am.
Me: (Aha! Theatrics and seething! THAT is the magic formula!)
As someone I know likes to say, that was then, and this is now. The maintenance man arrived, took off his shoes politely even, the leak was fixed, the ants were drowned, the rafts have been recovered, washed and dried and the bathroom is fully functional and back to its pretty lavender-and-white. And my precious is back on its table. And the story? Well, it’s over. What did you expect? It’s just a leak.