One broken tile . . !


IT could have either been a careless mason, or that the area under the tile was crumbling and had to be broken. And so, broken it was. Not just the area beneath the tile, but the tile also.

The mason did his job, plastered the area underneath that needed reinforcing and then asked me if I had a similar spare tile to replace the one he’d broken. “No!” I said, after searching my loft and terrace, “Looks like I didn’t keep any when I fixed the kitchen ten years ago!”

The mason and I looked at each other helplessly. We knew that, that particular design would not be found in the market. Clever tile manufacturers change their design every few years so that leaves it impossible to do a patch up job later, and if a pipe is leaking in the bathroom, and you need to unearth it from behind a tile, then it means changing the tiling for the whole bathroom.

Plumbers love this, and a small job turns into a huge one for them. I looked at the missing tile and realized I would soon have to spend a fortune, if I didn’t come up with an idea. “Okay!” I told the mason finally, “Remove the whole line of tiles!” “But the rest are okay sir!” he said, looking at me with a crestfallen face. The rest of the tiles along the line were removed and I told the painter to level the place and paint the whole area.

I looked at the broken tile and decided there was a lesson here. Just because of one bad tile all the others had to be removed, which meant that one person in a group who was not up to the mark, had faults or could not control his or her habits, could let the whole team down.

“Choose your friends carefully,” whispered the other tiles staring listlessly from a sack they had been dumped into, before making their way to the garbage dump, “If we had known this tile had rot beneath his glamorous smooth face, would we have ever included him with us?”

I look at good people who were being influenced by one bad person, and finally the whole group falls because of wrong policies and thinking. Political parties which are going into disrepute because of one bad leader!

The fresh coat of paint the painter applied to where the tiles had been, buried the tale of what was before, and I knew history buried such groups that had broken tiles in them. “What happened to such and such an organization?”

Asks a person coming in from another country. “Oh, their leader was caught with his hands in the cookie jar!” we tell him, “And that was the end of his group!” One broken tile is all you need..!