Maya pulled the tangle of hairs from the shower plughole. Long black ones clung on like greedy tapeworms but the blonde ones gave in quickly. The red ones were often quarrelsome but this morning they cooperated. She stood up and marvelled at the knot of hair colours glowing in the bathroom’s fluorescent light. Then she coiled the strands around her index finger and put them in a zip-lock bag along with the others she had collected that morning.
Hungry after her red-eye shift she ate in the restaurant in Chinatown where the cook knew how to make mohinga. The other cleaners were there talking about how disgusting hotel guests were, either ejaculating in bed or leaving behind bloated condoms. But Maya never joined in that talk. Snarled hair snuggled in her jeans pocket; a kitten she had rescued from drowning.
She cycled to her flat and her finger pressed twelve in the elevator. In the kitchen, she took out her ‘I love Amsterdam’ mug and made sweet tea to perk herself up. Afterwards, she washed a month’s worth of shed hair in coconut-scented shampoo, weighed it down with a can of beans and placed it on the window ledge to dry. Staying awake in the sleepy sunlight was difficult but she forced herself to because a black and white bird had once stolen the whole lot.
Maya caressed the warm hair and imagined it travelling the world. Cream bellies of dreaming shops, sunny plazas, rosy-cheeked blossom, and paintings of lovers having picnics, all lay in wait. She posted the hair off in a Jiffy bag next morning. Perhaps one day it might return on a weekend to Amsterdam and the harvest would begin all over again. Maya shook her head in disbelief. Now wouldn’t that be something.