Sitting in a dark corner of his small shop in Malad East, Indulal Vishwakarma (65) bends over a stone grinder sharpening a pair of scissors. As the stone rubs against the metal surface spraying sparks, he skilfully manoeuvres it to sharpen the edges.
Working in an area dominated by garment manufacturers, Vishwakarma’s clientele mainly includes tailors who come to him to sharpen their scissors. Working for close to 12 hours everyday, he sharpens around 100 scissors a day on an average. Occasionally, he is also frequented by women who come to sharpen their kitchen knives.
Coming from a family of knife sharpeners, Vishwakarma stepped into the business at the age of 20. “Since childhood, I used to watch my father working at the stone and I just picked up the skill. Initially I had many injuries while working on the grinding stone. But with years, I mastered the art,” says Vishwakarma showing scars on his palms and knees.
Recalling his early days in the business, he says the conditions were tougher then. “While these machines run on electricity now, when I began, we had to run it manually. That required two people to run a machine and also took much longer (for the work to get done). However, our business has declined over the years. Not many people take the effort to sharpen their instruments today and at the same time, more people have gotten into the trade,” he says.
Sharpening around 100 scissors a day, Vishwakarma makes Rs 700 to Rs 800 daily. The charges vary according to sizes of the scissors and knives that are brought to him. Small scissors are sharpened for Rs 30 while the charge for bigger ones are Rs 60. Small knives are sharpened for Rs 10.
Like in every other trade even this has its peak seasons. As garment businesses see a surge during Diwali and other festivals, Vishwakarma gets more scissors to sharpen. More knives are brought to his shop when Eid is around the corner.
Being around for years, he has created a loyal client base and today, some of them travel across states to get their scissors sharpened at his shop. “A few tailors who have now moved to Dahanu, Surat and Vapi still come back to me to sharpen their scissors. I know exactly how they want their scissors,” he says.
As he readies himself to sharpen the next scissor, his son looks into the room from his adjoining dyeing unit. Unlike Vishwakarma, his son doesn’t intend to take up the trade after him. “My son has chosen the dyeing business as it has more profit. This profession has nothing to lure the younger generation and the poor profits further disinterests them.”