A Hairy Tale

Karya . Archieved at 20 November 2018 on category Short Story, The Jakarta Post

There is a strand of hair at the back of her right calf. She hunches down to take a closer look. It looks like it’s waving at her and cheekily whispering, “Come, come, hold my hand and let’s go see the sun together.”

“Nasty little hair… I’m letting you go now. I’ll be back in the clinic in a couple of days,” Anjali reprimands that one annoying strand of hair as she looks at her otherwise smooth leg.

Anjali quickly goes back to her coffee. She feels that other people in the café are not really minding their own business. Whatever, she thinks. She stares back at them. They turn their eyes away and laugh. They might actually not notice that she’s around; it’s her mind that is doing the usual trick.

Anjali takes out her iPhone and goes to check on her Path. One nasty one to go, she writes on her status update. It’s one of the things she likes to do while trying to finish her writing.

*

It’s the hottest time of the day; the sun is descending and yet still far away from reaching the horizon.

She sits at her usual place, where she can perfectly see the sun gradually go to sleep and the world go by. She likes the concept of writing in a public place, as it gives her constant inspiration. And this café on Marine Drive has a big French window facing the promenade, which is like a giant LCD TV that broadcasts the reality show of a tiny part of Mumbai to her: the busy main streets, people going for a jog under the blazing sun, domestic helpers walking the house toy dogs, a line of young lovers sitting along the promenade, an open place where they can get more privacy than at their own home. She calls that line ‘the row of love poles’.

*

But today, her mind is not outside. Today, it ponders and observes others at the café. There’s a skinny guy with a lot of hair, body hair, talking on the phone. And then there’s this girl; a pretty one, her long hair is blowing in the breeze, gleaming with the reflection of the afternoon sun. She’s wearing a sleeveless top and keeps raising her hand when she talks. Ugh, Anjali could see the stubs of hair popping out from her underarm pores, like a bed of grass’s tip. Disgusting, she thinks. It should be a crime to wear sleeveless attire when one doesn’t have smooth underarms. There’s a woman with awfully thick unruly eyebrows that are connected to each other like a bridge; a unibrow.

She pans from left to right again and all she sees is body hair on people. Why is it that when one has something on one’s mind, suddenly that’s the only thing that pops up before one’s eyes?

She caresses her smooth hairless hand. Her mind reminisces the very first time she had the hair removal treatment at the clinic.

*

“Ouch…” Anjali bit her lips and tried to swallow the pain.

“That’s some nasty coarse hair in there,” the therapist glided and swirled the laser device over Anjali’s skin.

She surrendered to the stinging sensation that felt like a fire ant biting her skin. Ah, so much for the anesthesia cream they applied hours prior to the treatment, she thought. And if the therapist said the sting would only occur when there’s coarse hair underneath the skin, it meant there was only coarse hair underneath her skin.

“Ok, we’re done with the laser. Now we would clean the cooling gel and apply this cream to soothe your skin,” the therapist said as she scrapped the gel off her skin with a spatula. “Remember, don’t get the skin exposed to hot water for a day. Stay away from the sun. No scrubbing, rubbing or anything that creates frictions on the skin.”

The therapist helped Anjali put on the robe.

“How was your first treatment? It was not painful right? In no time, your skin will be so luminous that it will light up the room, for there won’t be any more obstruction from the hair,” the clinic manager sweet-talked Anjali as soon as she came out of the treatment room.

It was not like the treatment was not painful. It was, but it was also bearable. And the thought of her not to have to go through the regular pain from waxing was what made her decide to go on with the program.

“We’ll see you on your next session,” the voice of the clinic manager faded out and turned into buzzing sound. The buzz was created by the noise of a bus passing by with thick smoke from its exhaust pipes that brought her back to the present reality at the café.

*

Anjali looks from the corner of her eyes. Her husband, Dev, is brushing his teeth with his annoying electric toothbrush. What’s more annoying is his hairy body. She’s been encouraging him to take a laser hair remover treatment, and each time he flatly rejects the idea. “It’s an offense against nature. Never go against nature. Something really bad will come back to you. Bad karma,” said Dev once. She wonders how could she cope all this time, not only with his hairy body but with his narrow-mindedness as well.

Dev is amused by his wife’s new obsession. She has an addictive trait in her. It’s something that actually attracted him to her in the first place.

“Can you see that? I feel as if there’s something tickling from inside my nose,” Dev leans closer to her and lifts up his nose.”

“Gross!” Anjali pushes Dev away.

Dev snorts and kills himself laughing.

*

“I’ve noticed that my back hair has grown thicker,” Anjali whispers to the therapist’s ear, afraid that the wall in that cabin will tell the whole world about her darkest secret.

“Let me have a look,” the therapist tends to Anjali’s back. “It’s not much, but we certainly can take care of it.”

In just a few sittings, her then-reluctant patient has now converted into a glabrous. Her eyes sparkle at the thought of the commission she’s going to get from all the fortune this lady is spending on packages the clinic has to offer. Ka-ching!

*

A Hairy Tale“Are you turning into a smoothie?” asks Dev while brushing his teeth. Dev is no longer amused by Anjali’s obsession. He spits out the watery paste from his mouth as if he’s spitting out his disgust.

Anjali ignores him and goes on observing every inch of her body in the mirror.

“Why do we, of all people, have to be the ones with most hair?” she asks him, or maybe she actually asks herself. “Us, who live in the most humid and hot place on earth?”

“Don’t question God. There must be a reason, hence don’t go against nature.” Dev pulls Anjali closer. “But you do look great. Like a living La Naissance de Venus.” He starts kissing her bare back.

“Nah…not now.”

Dev drowns himself in her thick lustrous lock, the only hair she has left on her, aside from her eyebrow and eyelashes.

“I’ve just got it done.” Anjali pushes him away.

“What has just got done?” Dev is stubbornly pulling her closer.

Anjali’s eyes point downward. “Can’t have any frictions.”

“Oh, you and your hair. Be careful, babe, you can’t stop nature. It will find its way back, always,” mutters Dev as he storms out of the bathroom.

*

Dev is looking at her peaceful face. She always looks like a baby when sleeping with one cheek on the pillow. Even more so now that she has no hair on her body.

He caresses her skin, his hand glides smoothly from the cheek to the neck. She grunts. He stops. He starts again, gently, not wanting to wake her up. It’s been awhile he thinks. He’s a normal guy with a healthy sexual appetite. And it is with his wife he’s trying to do so. He knows that he can’t do it without her consent. But he can try to seduce her, right?

His fingers glide down to her full breast and to her soft belly, slowly making a circle around her navel.

He stops. He shivers. He touches her navel again to re assure himself. No, this can’t be, he thinks. But what he thinks is true. He pulls down the duvet and his eyes roll out in disbelief seeing hair sprouting out of her navel. The shaft is fine and shiny. He can see each and every strand is growing and dancing happily, as if stretching their bodies after being tied down for far too long.

The hair has finally returned. ***

Beta Perwata grew up in a family of storytellers and educators. She is the founder of TABETA Creative Space.


[1] Short story was written by Beta Perwata
[2] It has been published in “The Jakarta Post” Newspaper at November 19, 2018

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