A CONVERSATION WITH MY BEARD
Soon after I had related the story of my beard I became aware of a simmering discontent on my face. This had been building up and as I sat on my usual perch in front of my computer with only the desk lamp on and alone in the shadows, I started scratching my face or rather that zone covered by my beard. I knew it had to be him, my beard. This was his way of getting back at me whenever he becomes irritated and he passes it on. Tonight I did not caress him as I always do when in deep thought (that’s what I said when I related the story of his existence, isn’t it?) but scratched him in irritation. Initially I could not understand the reason for his restlessness, so I asked him “Hey what’s wrong with you?”. There was silence for sometime and then he erupted “What do you think? You tell people my story without ever getting my side of the picture. Have you ever given a thought to my feelings? Despite all the trials and tribulations you have put me through I have always been there and never ever complained or made public the relationship we share. Now you sit there basking in the success of having told a story about me and resting on your laurels.”
Luckily my wife was asleep for otherwise her suspicions that I am turning senile would have been confirmed. She would have been aghast that her husband was talking to a beard in the middle of the night after not having made much of a conversation with her the entire day. Of late she has complained that she has been having some weird dreams and this would have confirmed that I was the cause of it all. You never know for she may have decided that this was also a dream and gone back to sleep. That would have suited me fine.
You may have all along wondered why I have been referring to my beard as a masculine person. I guess it needs no explanation for a beard is a masculine trait and I am sure that there will be no objections on this count from the female of the species.
Anyway coming back to the conversation with my beard, I was silent, for this was the first time he had spoken to me like this and that too in a voice of protest. I decided that I would let him have his say and I would hear it. In fact at that moment what came to my mind was Kafka’s ‘Investigations of a Dog’. Whether it is a dog or a ‘Conversation with God’ or the protestations of a Beard, they all end by giving the other side of the story. I thought it fair. So I told my beard “look here I am here to listen to you and carry your words to all those people who have already read your story as related by me. You have to narrate and I shall put down whatever you say, truly. Believe me.”
For sometime there was silence and then the irritation subsided as I gently stroked him as one would do to a pet dog. I have to be careful here when I say this, for one of my friends during the course of our conversation about beards remarked that my statement “I fondle my beard and caress my head” sounded semi erotic. So the next thing I did was place a mirror in front of me next to my laptop so that I could watch him while he spoke. With only the desk lamp on, he was a ghostly apparition very much like Banquo’s ghost appearing before Macbeth, only I had not committed any murder here. I said “Okay, I am ready”
“First I object to you people calling me all sorts of names like- sentimental beard, emotional beard, pessimism beard, religious beard, intellectual beard, rebel beard, aesthetic beard, functional and wannabe beards. Why can’t you people understand that we beards are just beards and we have our own character? All those adjectives you have used to describe us, is what you basically are and not us. For your own vanity you have been subjecting us to all sorts of torture. Clipping and cutting us and then completely erasing us from our existence on your face. If this isn’t sadism than what is? But you forget that our values are too deep rooted and we have the spirit to spring up again and again till you learn to coexist with us.
Next you had the audacity to call me a balancing beard. That’s the last straw. Have you forgotten that I was there even when there was hair on your head? I will be there even when all that hair on your head has gone. Our existence does not depend on what you have on your head or inside it.
We also undergo our cycles of birth and death. We believe in reincarnation for every time you razor us out of existence we are born again and you have to keep at it so that your lady love can run her hands smoothly across your face. But there is one thing I am grateful to you for and that is allowing me to grow and not completely exterminating me from your face, though I had to bear the ignominy of getting disfigured from time to time to suit your moods. But I have observed over the last two months that you have been allowing me to grow up to ten days only after which you ruthlessly trim me down. This has happened ever since you read in the papers that women swoon over men who sport a ten day stubble (may be you have been having delusions that you look like George Clooney, of course without the hair on the head may be you should now be called George Clowney!). So you have now reduced me to a stubble. I feel like a bonsai.
It is sad that though you have societies for prevention of cruelty to animals, cutting of trees etc. etc. there is nothing for prevention of cruelty to beards. The only people who have allowed us to grow without any hindrance and as per our natural inclination have been the rishis and munis of yore (and of course the fake sadhus of the present). I do not know about the Gods. But the objection I have about them is that they never really cared about us. I should also admit that there are also people now for whom our very existence is a matter of pride and look after us most affectionately.
Why do you differentiate between a moustache and a beard? Both of us belong to the same brotherhood, we are only separated by your mouth. You remember that I first appeared above your upper lip, benign and as innocent as your first teenage love. I say ‘first’ because I have seen you going through those periods when you thought that you were in love with every girl you met. Don’t worry your secrets are safe with me. I still owe you some loyalty. Then one day you wiped me out, may be you thought that you were getting rid of a witness to your escapades. Anyway all that is long past and gone. Now I am happy that our days are back again.
So for God’s sake (I don’t remember whether he had one or would need one now) let us be.”
I guessed that he had poured his heart out, for now I felt no irritation but only the soft velvety feeling of his existence. I knew that he had fallen asleep for Banquo’s ghost had vanished.