The Embroidered Kurtas

The Embroidered Kurtas

Lucknow is famous for its Muslim artisans, who are skilled in making hand embroidered saris, salwar suits, kurtas etc. The embroidery is done on all kinds of cloth like voile, muslin, organdie, silk and even brocade.

A large consignment of short kurtas was being packed to be sent to a designer in Mumbai. The boxes were loaded into the goods train from Lucknow. At Mumbai station when the boxes were being unloaded, somehow two boxes slipped and fell down on the platform. The next day the designer came to meet the Station Superintendent to lodge a complaint about the missing boxes. Before he reached the office of the Station Superintendent, he caught sight of a beggar wearing a beautiful blue silk kurta that was surely his design! He caught the beggar by the neck and said, “You thief, where did you get this kurta from, this is mine!” The beggar said, “I’m not a thief. Jadoo gave it to me.” The man asked, “Who is Jadoo?” The beggar replied, “He sits behind the tea stall next to the ticket counter. Do you want to meet him?” The man started running towards the ticket counter with the kurta clad beggar in tow. A few yards away he came across another beggar, wearing a richly embroidered pink kurta. “Who gave you that?” he almost shrieked. The timid boy stuttered, “Ja… ja… Jadoo.” The designer was seeing red now. He reached the spot and saw an old beggar lying on a tattered old sheet, wearing an exotic red silk kurta. He shook the fellow up and yelled, “You’re Jadoo?” “Yes,” said the old beggar. The designer slapped him hard and said, “You’re a thief. Those kurtas are worth thousands. You had the guts to steal my box. You … I’ll have you arrested … you …”

The beggar said, “Sir that box lay unattended on the platform all day. Even the police did not notice it. I opened it and found these kurtas. I decided that the owner perhaps didn’t want them, so I distributed one each amongst all my friends here at the platform. Well, if you want them back, I will ask all of them to give them back to you.”

The designer was dumb struck. This poor beggar had distributed all the kurtas! He kept just one for himself! Poor monetarily; but rich at heart! The designer lowered his eyes and said, “It’s okay, you can keep them now.”

As he turned around to leave he caught sight of a well-to-do young boy who was also wearing a kurta that was definitely his design. And he was surely not a beggar. The designer walked up to the boy and asked wearily, “Son, where did you get that kurta from?” “My father gifted me a set of ten embroidered kurtas yesterday. This is one of them,” beamed the boy. The designer was broken hearted by now, “Who’s your father?” he asked. “My father is the Station Superintendent!”