Rekha was ecstatic. Finally, the day had come. She had been waiting for this opportunity for over four weeks now. Huh! Four Weeks? What self-respecting lady like woman would let those tiny bristles grow and flourish for four weeks. She wondered. Earlier that afternoon, Rekha’s manager had informed her of the services booked by their next client Dr. Sheila Reddy. Since then, Rekha had been seen rubbing her hands in glee and rolling her eyes, every now and then, as backless blouse donning vamps did in high rated Indian TV soaps, when scheming for a delightful and satisfying revenge. She was meticulously planning the several different ways she would be using her instruments on Dr. Reddy, every time her right hand subconsciously went to her jaw, since that fateful interaction a month back with Dr. Reddy.
At sharp 3.45 pm, fifteen minutes before the destined interaction, Rekha, started to get the waxing room ready, fluttering excitedly around the Salon. “Don’t use the regular wax Rekha”, her pesky manager chirped from behind as Rekha was cutting open an old forgotten tin of wax. “Dr. Reddy is our special client. She has booked our Super Deluxe Chocolate Rica treatment. What with her delicate skin and all… that thing,” the manager said pointing to the half open wax tin, “will kill her.”
“…Umm.. Yes maám…s..so…sorry maám…” Rekha stuttered in a pretend apologetic tone, slipping the old wax can in the bottom drawer, waiting for the manager to leave, only to replace it on the heating stand as soon as she was alone again.
The front door bells jangled at sharp 4 pm as Dr. Reddy sailed into the lavender scented Salon, playing soothing soft instrumental melodies, in dimmed lights that conveniently hid the unswept hair and nails strewn around the floor corners and beneath the plush swivel chairs.
“Good evening Madam”, Rekha flashed her sweetest, most innocent smile at Dr. Reddy, taking her umbrella away and offering her a glass of water. Welcome to the Salon.
Dr. Reddy glanced at Rekha as she did at the wall clock, gave a practiced polite smile, nodded at the manager and went and plonked herself in the first chair facing the mirror. Rekha followed, smiling within, almost jumping with mirth at the ingenious pain infliction plan she had for the next one hour.
Eyebrows Madam? Thin? Rekha enquired. Dr. Reddy nodded without as much as a glance at her mischievous smile. Rekha conveniently forgot to powder the skin around Dr. Reddy’s overgrown eyebrows and pulled out her reel of thread, the sharpest, stingiest one she had found. Please hold madam, she said and adjusted Dr. Reddy’s fingers, that were pulling the skin around the eyebrows tight.
Stiiing…Whoosh…went the first cut.
Ouch! Shrieked Dr. Reddy, jerking her head off the headrest and turning to stare at the perpetrator of that awful sting. “That HURTS girl! What are you using? A sword? Don’t you have some ointment or powder or something?”
“S…s…sorry Madam” … Rekha blinked fast and frowned…looking at Dr. Reddy in the mirror with a very sheepish expression. She examined the brows again and commented, “There is a lot of growth you see Madam… I .. I will try to be gentler..”
Dr. Reddy stared at Rekha’s innocent eyes with all the embarrassed fury she could muster with one eye and pursed her lips. Deciding to let the insult pass.
Rekha continued, cutting, slicing, tugging at one tiny adamant eyebrow hair at a time as Dr. Reddy flinched and cursed under her breath, reluctant to admit her laziness on the maintenance front last month.
After ten very slow and prickling minutes, Rekha finally straightened up and exclaimed “Done”, handing Dr. Reddy a small mirror to check her handiwork. Dr. Reddy winced again as she saw the reddened skin that had once been her shabby eyebrows and stared at the pencil thin curves that remained. She hated thin eye-brows. But well, this was a temporarily irreversible change and she slumped back on the chair as her burning skin drained her of any energy to chastise Rekha.
“Upperlip Madam?” Rekha queried in a soft disarming voice. Dr. Reddy lifted the hand mirror again to check if more torture was called for, saw the thick moustache of tiny hair that got surprisingly magnified at close quarters and surrendered. “Why not? Gentler this time please young lady!” She pleaded as Rekha took her head, adjusted it on the headrest and bent down, stinging thread ready. Rekha tapped gently on the right cheek as Dr. Reddy rolled her tongue there to tighten the skin and sllllliiiiiissssh ……. Went the thread on the left.
“Owieeeeeeeeeee!” Dr. Reddy jumped out of the chair. “What the hell!” She flared as her eyes moistened with rage and tears. “Call your manager RIGHT NOW! This is UNACCEPTABLE”
“S…s…so…sorry Madam. Very so…so..sorry madam. Please madam. This won’t happen again madam. That my mother…my mother is not well no madam…so the mistake madam. Never any clients complain madam. If you complain madam, they will fire me madam. And my poor mother in the hospital madam…. Your skin is very soft and delicate madam. Very soft skin. Here…let me apply this balm madam. This will soothe. Please don’t complain madam” …Rekha kept muttering, blinking, apologizing. That puppy like face and modest tone calmed Dr. Reddy as she turned back taking pity. After all, her skin was soft.
Rekha continued with the thread and the tapping and the tugging. As each tiny adamant hair on Dr. Reddy’s upperlip reluctantly cut away from the skin and fell, Rekha’s memories of the hammerlike pain in her jaw since that fateful day last month started melting.
“Done madam. Please check.” Rekha said as Dr. Reddy raised the mirror again to inspect the rewards of what had been a brutally prickling exercise. Her soft skin was red and burning and stinging as if a hundred hot needles were stuck on the skin above her eye-brows and lips. She started to say something nasty, looked at Rekha’s brooding expression in the mirror and stopped. She wasn’t in a mood to take any more tears.
“Waxing Madam?“ Rekha enquired again, wide eyed and innocent as ever. Her current intentions coated in honey as she watched Dr. Reddy see her eyes wander over a very hairy forearm. “Special discount for you madam. 10 % off on our new chocolate rica wax. It is supposed to be totally painless madam. New skin technology they call it. Try it madam. Last day for discount madam.” The judgmental perusal was not wasted on Dr. Reddy as she bravely got up from the chair and walked to the waxing chamber as Rekha handed her a very tiny gown to change in. “Sorry we are out of XL madam. All gone for washing.”
Dr, Reddy snatched the gown, frowned and banged the door of the chamber shut. In a few minutes, Rekha knocked on the door and pushed it open to find a very shy and very scantily covered Dr. Reddy sitting gingerly on the waxing table. The tight gown was doing a bad job of hiding the bulges of a very middle aged body while the wall to wall mirrors stared. And the growth, the hairy forearms and the furry legs. Rekha’s inner devil was jumping up and down like a child who had discovered a new toy.
Rekha wiped the waxing knife and dipped it in the now bubbling, boiling can of wax sitting on the heater. Dr. Reddy stared apprehensively as the knife coated in a very brown and putrid smelling layer of wax crawled over her calf and Rekha spread a generous layer on the skin there. Before Dr. Reddy could react to what she was sure was a second degree burn, Rekha pressed a waxing strip down on the patch and pulled with all her might.
Dr. Reddy jumped. “Mother fucking son of a bitch! You murderer. You sadist little twisted bitch…You…you….you” She squealed in pain, shaking a finger at Rekha, eyes popping out of their sockets in rage and pain. Face redder than ever, every inch of it. Her lips moved but the sound stopped coming out of it as she stared first at a satisfyingly smirking Rekha then at the patch of hariless skin on her calf and the bubbling wax in the corner of the room.
Jumping off the waxing table, Dr. Reddy stormed out. The tiny tight gown, the bulges, the red face, the forest on her arms and legs, the forest with that 3 inch rectangular recently razed down patch. That patch that had ripped out every profanity she had every read or heard from her otherwise polite mouth. She stormed out and barged to the reception.
Rekha followed. No longer apologetic or innocently unaware or stuttering. She quietly slipped into the manager’s now empty chair and in the smoothest of voices asked “May I help you madam?” Dr. Reddy now saw her face again, smiling, crookedly smiling, in the bright white light of the reception and for the first time, she noticed the face.
You? You! You again? Where is the manager? This is unacceptable….YOU…. Dr. Reddy stared all around her in the empty Salon, out of words, writhing in pain and suddenly realizing how exposed she was in this sudden bright light.
“Everyone has left for the day madam. You can tell me what it is that is bothering you.” Rekha informed calmly. Still smiling.
Dr. Reddy stared down at herself and at her several images, like a fur coated balloon trying to escape from a tight grip, in that skimpy gown, staring at her from all the wall to wall mirrors lining the Salon. Her stinging face and burning skin and embarrassment and rage all peaked as she finally burst out.
“But Why? What did I ever do to you?” She pleaded, as Rekha continued to stare and smile with a hand reaching out to her jaw, unconsciously.
“You don’t remember madam? Dr. Madam? Last month, this day, this time? Are you that used to ladling out pain?” Rekha questioned. Still smiling, rubbing her jaw.
Dr. Reddy stared cluelessly at Rekha as she continued, “I was very much in your chair at your mercy madam, just like you were in mine. Under your floodlights, as you readied your drill to do my root canal. And you conveniently forgot the anesthesia. ….
Huh! You still don’t remember do you? But I am sure, after today, you will never forget.” She declared victoriously, staring at the razed patch and the reddened skin as she turned away from the fumbling and fuming Dr. Reddy to the computer screen on the desk.
Slow realization dawned on a very shaken and ruffled Dr. Reddy still bawling in pain, hair astray, face a shade of red, daubed in powder and remnant stinking sticky wax, arms and legs covered in hair with a single razed rectangular 3 inch patch.