Even Picasso experimented with it. He was a man, wasn`t he?
It doesn`t elevate me to the levels of Picasso, but it is true that I have also experimented with shaving. I started as early as last century…yes…in 1990 – when I was still a young lad of 15. I still cannot forget Gitanjali Iyer (of the Doordarshan fame), who used to be my fantasy girl. You know, back then we did not have all these music albums with curvaceously obnoxious babes on the TV screen. Neither did we have Fashion TV. I had to make do with three famous women – Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Anuradha Paudwal (wonder, where she is now).
As I was saying, I started shaving early. For saving, I had to wait till I got married.
Perhaps, my father did not want me to grow up, for he asked me not to shave till I was at least 18 years old. But as is the wont with boys of 15-years, who are in love with three girls at the same time – Gitanjali Iyer, Renuka Shahane and that neighbor aunty of mine – I did not listen to my father. Don`t ask me what happened to that neighbor-aunty… I still hate her husband, for marrying her.
I had to smuggle my father`s shaving kit to the bathroom – and I can assure you it wasn`t the kind of bathroom you would go and shave …especially if it was your first time. The mirror was decorated with soap marks and bindis left stranded by my sisters – truly Picasso style. The floor was slippery. I had to hold on to the door handle, not because the floor was slippery but because there was no bolt inside (The Army Man father of mine had removed the bolts when we teenagers started spending more time in the washroom. Somebody should have taught him about hormones, but even we hadn`t read about it then.)
The bucket would always be full of clothes – somebody`s…my father`s…mother`s…sister`s…or mine. The mug`s handle was broken…because it was as old as my parent`s marriage. They had bought this plastic mug in Jamshedpur – the first place they would go to after marriage – and had carried it through Jallundhar, Kholapur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and then Madurai. Sometimes I wondered if it were an Ethiopian mug. Aren`t Ethiopian`s known for their stamina?
Guys will know that today there is something called a Gillette Mach 4. Girls, can ask their husbands or boy-friends. I had to mortgage my wife Rekha`s jewels to buy one Gillette Mach 4.
Back then, it was the simple…all you needed was a razor, a Topaz blade (if you were rich, you used an Ahoska blade) and some shaving cream (the rich used Godrej, the middle-class used the green soap that came in a red, circular case…and the poor simply did not shave).
Needless to say, I had a Topaz blade, a green soap in a red, circular case and a razor…when I stood there in my slippery bathroom staring at a young lad of 15 in the mirror. I wanted to shave, and nothing was going to stop me.
While I had decided to shave, I had also decided to keep it a secret. I knew if my father had come to know that I had broken his dictate, he would order: “Down…now give me thirty!” My father still thinks he is Denzel Washington frm the movie ‘Training Day’.
Anyways, I could not keep it a secret because when the Topaz blade first touched my virgin cheeks…I slipped and in the process gave myself a very deep cut. The Result: A loud shout, followed by my father pushing the bathroom door open (remember we did not have a bolt) and me standing there caught with a razor in hand…and blood flowing down my cheeks.
This antic of mine was different from the others. On rest of the occasions, my father caught me red handed but this time, he caught me red-faced.