May 11, 2008

My 'un'fascination with beards

I had always been fascinated with beards. I remembered, watching my father shave, as a child. Each morning when I wake up, I would climb out of bed to see my dad shaving in the bathroom. He would stand before the bathroom mirror, make all sorts of stretchy plastic faces with the fluffy white foam on his face. And then, pursing his lips together, he would go ….. swish swish… with the razor. As a child it somehow amazes me that a foamy face and several swipes with the razor could transform a raspy stubble chin into a soft and silky patch of skin. “My turn!!” my baby brother and I would fight to be the first one to touch the freshly shaven face. Boy! We would kill to be the first one to kiss the silky smooth skin before dad would leave for work.
I remembered once, Dad had been travelling on a gruesome schedule, that when he returned home, he had this three day stubble on his chin. My brother, the moment he saw Dad, burst into tears; while the closest I got to Dad was watch him from behind my mother’s skirt. We were not used to seeing dad with a hairy face. But somehow, we came to love even the stubble. At the end of the day, we would laze around the bed while dad would blow our tummies and tickled us with his stubble. Then came the acceptance that even something so rough and ugly could be enjoyed in such a way.
The fascination with beards grew that one day, my brother and I tried the amazing task of shaving our faces before dad got home from the office. We were ‘rescued’ by the Nanny who snatched the razor from our hands, commanded us to wash our well-foamed faces and march out of the bathroom. When dad returned in the evening, that when the fun begins. The next morning when we woke up, dad, as usual was already in the bathroom. As we peeked inside, he smiled through his soapy face and gave both of us a bladeless razor each. Then he taught us the ‘art of shaving’. After soaping up our faces nice and thick, he gave us the plastic face exercise. Boy! To all the men who shave out there, I really admire your face stretching skills. My brother and I had to pull out the most expressive cartoons faces to make sure that we didn’t miss out a spot. After that, the three of us would line up each morning before the bathroom mirror, with stools and all, and carry out our daily ritual of shaving with bladeless razors.
That experience as a child must have left me deeply fascinated with beards. I admire men who keep themselves cleanly shaven every day, remembering the stretchy faces they must have pulled each morning before the mirror. I also admire men with stubbles at the same time, remembering the blown-tummies and stubble tickling evenings.
The other day, I was with this friend. This person and I had been through a lot together and I must say, we’re really close and comfortable with each other’s company. I can think aloud with this person and so could he with me. Hard luck so!! He looked at me really hard that day, stared at me till his eyes squinted and mentioned with delight, “Hey! Bawih, is that a thin mustache on your upper lips?” Stupid idiot!! My fascination with facial hair vanished all of a sudden, vaporized into thin air. It has been months since he’s made that comment. I’ve never recovered the fascination till now!

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