Two weeks ago I found a strand of pubic hair on the toilet seat of our office washroom. A thin curly tendril of puerile beauty, as if carefully placed on the shiny white plastic surface of the seat like an ancient crevice to seduce long due attention. I decided to not talk about it initially, but when I found a similar filament of human mane the next day and again the day after I decided to take charge. In a fit of rage and disgust I came out of the washroom and made the news public.
‘There is a hair,’ I said.
And not one face turned with an expression of shock or even surprise. It was like I had spoken the eternal truth, like a town full of middle-class peasants who were all this while aware that their master had been slaughtering their livestock for pleasure but decided to keep quiet in fear of their meaningless lives.
My boss’s boss who was sitting inside his cabin and pretending to work was the only one who stood up and walked out of his gas chamber [irritable bowel movement is common in this part of Asia, courtesy ‘where will all that oil go?’!]. He seemed to be the only one who was affected by the revelation, but soon he went overboard like an underpaid actor in a theatre production and condemned the act even coining a term in the process, ‘unhygienic sacrilege’.
It was only then that doubt first crept inside my heart. I tried to recall the strand I had unfortunately come across a few minutes ago and because I had already encountered a similar thread three days in a row it was still fresh in my mind. Then I noticed my super-boss’s head, the textures seemed to match and I even faintly recognized the hair-dye that could well have been the leftover from the sachet and was diligently saved from getting wasted by the man we all knew to be extremely pragmatic with his economics.
I tried to put the matter to rest realizing it could well spin out of my hands. But he seemed determined to get to the “bottom” of this heinous crime.
He stood in the middle of the floor and declared the house open. As the questions started springing up from
every cubicle and aisle of the 9th floor of the high-rise we were based in, the plot thickened further.
Someone said she had seen a similar piece of hair in various other locations of the office. One day she walked into a waving fur pinned to the soft board hung near the main entrance only to realize soon after that it wasn't fur after all. Another said he found one inside the paper file that stored details of vendor accounts once. It was apparently used to tie two related bills together, as an alternative to the office staple pins. The peon-boy raised his hand and added he thinks it’s the doing of an evil wolf who turned into a man every Monday and worked among us and hunted innocent civilians for his weekend fun.
Theories, theologies and philosophies of all kinds floated around the floor.
Trouble began when someone dropped the bomb that she had actually seen a pair once, and evidentially they belonged to different individuals, wrapped around each other stuck on the bathroom mirror. This gave rise to a set of fresh office rumors that makes any workplace buzz. So was there an office romance brewing under everyone’s nose? If yes, then were the lovers involving in conjugal pleasure inside the premises? If yes, then when? After everyone leaves for home every evening? Or before they walked in? Obviously I suspected the boss’s boss to be exploiting one of the newcomers, may be the receptionist, who was going bald herself.
My boss leapt into action like a leopard and suggested we plant spy cameras all over the place so we could gather evidence. But that proposal met with a lot of negativity, clearly nobody wanted to get caught on camera while scratching their buttocks after a heavy lunch or browsing websites that was adequate to make a good Christian go into a coma.
Then the jokes began.
How this story was making someone’s hair “stand” on end, how the offender must be someone who’s used to ‘middle-parting’. How we should empathize with Robert who was left “stranded” at the hotel during our office picnic and how “T(r)ess” of the d'urbervilles must be their favorite book by “Hardy”.
Then like any office meeting this too dispersed without a believable solution at sight.
My super-boss over-enthusiastically sent an email across other departments asking for suggestions.
I.T. said they can build an investigative software without breaching anyone’s privacy within the next six years.
Human Resources wrote they were deeply repentant for this inconvenience but it’s always better to let sleeping dogs lie. So we let them lie.
Finance replied, ‘Submit original invoices within the next three days and we will do the needful.’
Today is his birthday, my super-boss’s. I have decided to present him a bottle of hair gel that has a distinct stench. If he applies it and then leaves his memoirs again on the toilet seat then I will surely know; or hopefully someone else will. If not, it will at least help in covering for his body odor that’s arguably a little better than a sheep’s, but some days are exceptions. He says it’s the sprouts he eats for breakfast.
And now I wait.
Author bio: Sayantan Ghosh was born in India in 1986 two months premature and still blames his mother's gynecologist for him being ahead of his time. He took to writing because his ex-partner told him that he talks profound things in his sleep. He is a traveler, photographer, writer, stalker and has a postgraduate diploma in anxiety and occasional panic attacks. He hopes to write a novel someday about the torrid love-affairs of Mohandas Gandhi, including one with The Joker, and call it 'Why So Curious?'.