It all started with a hair in my armpit. Just a wiry, thin, short hair. In my armpit.
I discovered it when I was taking a Sunday bath at home. A long, leisurely bath under the shower. I just ran to the mirror. And blue murder, there it was! A long-short wiry-thin hair.
Now, I was used to being made fun of, about the soft golden down fuzz above my upper lips and around my chin. But, a hair? That too, in the arm-pit?!
This is crime against children, I said out loud. A mixture of anger, rush and confusion ran through me even as the water from the shower again coursed over my body. A heady sense of excitement too!
Am I a freak? AAArrgh! Why me?
I clutched my towel around my waist and ran to my brother who was watching the telly. Trying to look casual, I said, look, there is a hair!
He said Oh that? Let me look, let me look!
Not now, I said.
Whats the tussle about now? Said mom.
“He has a hair in his armpit” shriekied my brother laughing hysterically!
Show yours, I said threateningly to him.
I don’t have! Said brother, patting me on top of my head, smiling wolfishly!
So mom said to me, show me the hair!
Never, I said, half in fear and half in anger.
Now my father walked in busily, with shaving cream all over his chin.
First you, he told my bro, strip your shirt.
My bro casually took off his shirt.
It was then , that I noticed their chin. No hair. But then, there was gristle all over the chin and armpit. Just a rough smooth skin. Dad too?
Wanna touch? said dad.
Hes just growing up, said mother smiling slightly and a little sad.
With that I jumped and clutched my fathers chin. Rough and gravelly. I still remember.
He just lathered me with the brush again. And on my brother. Grinning.
I now understood why I wanted a decision in anything serious happening within the family, especially about myself. And I realized that my brother no longer had to have a lion’s share in the spoils from the kitchen and also from my father’s purse.
Despite the nicks and cut on his chin, I remember, he too smiled but not too kindly.
That summer. That one hair in the armpit and how our voices broke.
How my father, brother and I went to the garage and fixed things, and leaked into the potty together and fished together with towels in backwaters. Now I remember.
Now we’ve all gone our separate ways
Now we’ve all gone our separate ways. Even my wife is demure when my little daughter waves her chocolate alluringly; once again, I do not understand what to do!
Then I just remember that one hair in my armpit a little regretfully and a little longingly.