Of Baths and Beyonds

As I stood there, scrubbing hard over the dizzying stench of bleach, I wondered, ‘Where the hell did the pink blot come from? I do not have anything that is pink. Why is this region pink? How can white suddenly become pink?’ And then, as I bent closer to the floor,  ‘Am I this dirty all the time? Does so much of filth cover my body? Why does it stick to the sides of this damn thing and not go through the drain!?’ I stood back up, my head lolling about my neck — partially due to the bleach, partially due to the sudden jerk with which I stood up.

I was cleaning my bathtub — a task long overdue and generally accomplished only on sunny weekends, when I’d rather be lazing around. The whiteness had long since disappeared, and I had pretended for long enough that the black sludge that covered the bottom existed when I bathed everyday morning. The time was ripe — hell, it was rotten (yes, cleaning with reference to a fruit) — for cleansing, and I had no excuse left in my armory. I had to get down and do the nasty.

As my head stabilized, I thought back to rosier times. I thought back to my sweet little matchbox house in Mumbai, where no one had had bathtubs. A shower was a luxury that we were acquainted with only in the mid-90’s. I remembered watching American sitcoms. Wonderful women with perfect skins, drowned in foamy, frothy waters, their shaven legs peeking out over the layer of soap that strategically hid her undoubtedly perfect body parts. Their perfectly made up hair stopping just short of getting wet, their gentle motion offering the viewer a tantalizing glimpse of what lay beneath. White towels lay neatly folded a stone’s throw away — again, positioned just so that they never got wet, but were available when the women wanted to step out of their baths, the soapy water running down their calves. Ah. That was what I imagined a bath would feel like. Lying in warm soapy water was one of my childhood dreams. I remembered trying to replicate the act in the large buckets (this was quite a while ago) — a poor recreation, if at all.

Then grad school happened, and the pace of life changed. The bathtub was there, only cheaper — made from plastic moulding instead of the porcelain that my juvenile mind had pictured. There was barely enough room for one leg, let alone a whole person. It was a poor imitation of luxury as I imagined it, and although I did give it a whirl once, I was never quite satisfied. Of course, the years went by and the blindness that afflicts young men living in groups affected me as well. I do not remember the grad house bathtub as being filthy at all. It was just not white when I left — hell, it probably never was white to being with!

I graduated and moved into a nicer place. The bathtub was porcelain. Now I could only see filth. One shower and the damn thing was black. God alone knows that color that wretched monstrosity would take if one were to actually take a bath.

My break over, I went back down on all fours, trying to clean the grime that had apparently accumulated in a week’s time. I thought back to a dialogue I had heard in a movie. When told about the joys of drawing a nice warm bath, the character quipped, ‘I do not wish to stew in my own fetid filth for hours on end! How can that be relaxing at all?’ I nodded in agreement. Thank you reality for taking away another one of my cherished dreams. The only thing that keeps me going is the fact that Santa Claus still comes around for Christmas. Wait, what is that I read — Santa Claus, Coca-Cola…what?!

Ps. Complete fiction this. Not based on characters real or alive. (Really.)

Anush