It was the year 1998. I was in my eighth grade. And, one fine day I had this strong urge to get a hair cut. This is how the episode went:
Me: Mom, I need a haircut!
Mom: Why?? For what joy of life, do you need one?? (examining my long wavy curls that touched a few inches lower than my shoulder.
Me: For every joy of life, I need a haircut this time!
Mom: NO means NO!
Me: Please! I am not going to shave my head or something! I need to get my hair trimmed. That is it! And believe me, I will be a changed soul. My academics will improve and you will be surprised!
Mom: What??? You mean to say it is your long hair that is not allowing you to study regularly?? Why don’t you share your out-of-science explanations with your dad?? Am sure, he will be ‘pleased’!
Mom(looking at my puppy face): Until he says yes, am not financing the hair cut!
Me: Please, you may tell him after he sees me in the new haircut which is nothing but trimming the hair ends. Literally, there is not going to be any difference between the old ‘me’ and the new ‘me’!
Mom: Ok! But promise me you won’t cut it short! Just trimming, that is it!
At the parlour,
Me: I need to trim my hair.
Lady: it will be 150 rupees. You will have to wait for a while. Until then, have a seat. You can find some magazines here.
Me: (never been to a parlour before all by self and thinking..150 is more or less?)uuhh…ohh… ok…!!
Did I mention, this was the first time I visited a parlor and the second time in my life when I was going for a hair cut (my first time was in first grade). I loved everything about this parlor. The Buddha statues, the long incense sticks, the wafting spells of wonderfully aromatic shampoos, conditioners, creams and what not. Although I was aware of the beauty tips and tricks at an early age, I was introduced to the techniques of shaping and trimming of eyebrows, waxing, facials and clean ups only a year before I graduated from college. Yes, that is the truth. Ok, I am digressing. So, I was sitting in the parlor when I saw this 30 something lady with long flowing tresses sitting on the chair and describing to the hair dresser, the kind of hair cut she wanted. ‘Mushroom’ is the word I heard. A few minutes later, the scissors and the rattail comb made way into her dark dense head as chunks of thick tresses covered the smooth mosaic floor. Not that I was a fan of long hair (I hate it really) but, I could not believe this lady was getting rid of such beautiful silken hair. Well, not my business. So, I continued to stare at the way the hairdresser was working with her paddle brush, scissors and the multiple combs, all at once. About 15 minutes later after all the ‘blow dry’, ‘blow hot’ and ‘comb inwards’ and ‘comb outwards’ jargons, I saw a new face. The lady looked younger with her head appearing smaller than before and her forehead was partially hidden by the silky short hair falling across her face and the glow that came to her face when she viewed how a haircut elevated her look, was too conspicuous to miss. The lady gestured to me asking how it looked and I, already awed by the hair cut heard myself saying loud, “I am getting that cut too!”
The hair dresser looked at me with a funny expression and said, “Maybe, you should just trim your hair. You have quite dense and curly hair and a mushroom cut is preferable for women with straight hair”.
For a 13 year old me, that was an insult! I made it clear that I wanted a mushroom cut for three reasons:
- I hate long hair
- I don’t have to make double plaits!
- And, I care two hoots about how I look thereafter.
Maybe, I was a tad too fast in mentioning the third reason, which kind of slipped from my tongue before my mind could act. And that was it! After shelling out double the amount (mom had given me more so that I could save the rest and put it in piggy bank), and on my way home with exactly 10 bucks, I felt light, nervous, relieved and adventurous all at the same time. However all my dreams of tossing my head like Demi Moore or Meg Ryan disappeared into thin air, the moment I saw mom chatting away with N aunty. With great deliberation, I made a move towards the gate, when my mom called out, “yes?? Kisse milna hai?” For a minute, I thought she was joking! I blinked at her and she blinked at me back! Maybe I should have checked myself in the mirror for a second time before I paid and left, as I did not much recollect, how I looked! I said, “Mom! It is me!”. Her eyebrows knitted and she opened her mouth to say something and there, I heard a car honk outside the gate. Dad was back.
I have little to share about how the later part of that day’s evening went as I was greeted with a stone cold silence each time I tried saying something. The next day, when I boarded my school jeep, Saeed Uncle (our driver) looked at me and asked, “Ye kya kar diya aapne baalon ka? Tabiyat to theek hai na!”. Well, i knew the day at school was going to be worse. I was teased, praised, petted and trolled, with the following comments of kinds:
A (One of my arch rivals): haaaaahhaaaa…..humare class me new admission hai! And wait, it is a boy!
B(another boy): WoW! You look like Indira Gandhi….only those whites near the temple are missing…..
C (girl): not bad! You look different!
D (girl): Hey, you are good in studies. You participate in everything, the school knows you. What made you do such a thing?
E (girl): You are looking damn cute! Looks like you are wearing an inverted basket!
Well, not one in my class agreed with the other on how I looked. For some, I looked like Indira Gandhi. For some, I was a clown. For some, I suddenly became a weirdo. For some, I looked disturbed and for some, I looked confused. I was hurt. And, I would be lying if I said I was prepared for the kind of attention I drew from juniors, seniors, teachers and the principal too. The amount of speculation on why I opted for a mushroom cut seemed more interesting to discuss rather than how I looked in it. It was only after Sis Molly (our School Principal) summoned me later in the office and asked, “Whatever happened to your hair? I loved those dark curly hair of yours! Why, Narayani, Why?”, the tears almost welled up. But then, I am my father’s daughter and humour came to me more easily than tears! I just quipped, “Well, hair grows back always. Doesn’t it?”
On a lighter note, I was the star studded subject of the school that day right from the gossip sessions among the ayhas, and then in the classrooms, staff rooms et al. Not even teen romance would have been discussed with such alacrity as much as my mushroom hair cut was! I was relieved when that day ended. The days that followed in the week were tolerable. My parents soon accepted my new avatar after I promised them that I was never going to experiment with my hair without a proper supervision. That said, I did not have a haircut until the beginning of 2007, when I joined Cognizant.
So much for a haircut that goes by the name – Mushroom! DUH!
P.S: Well, there are a couple of things I learnt:
- What looks good on someone else may not necessarily suit you. Most of the times, it will not!
- Always listen to mom!
Even if you forget the first point, no problem. But don’t forget the second, or else the world will have every reason to laugh!!