Sunday, May 16, 2010
When I passed out the high school, my parents were in a quandary. What now?
My father wanted to marry me off and my mother was adamant about me getting higher education.
Well, my mother won as usual, because my father could never say ‘no’ to her (grin) and I laughed all the way to my college…
Anyways, the small town where I was born had no good college and since my mother wanted me to study in the best, I was sent to a distant college for my graduation degree and lived in a hostel during those years.
The University where I studied was about 1000 kms from my home-town and it was my first experience of living away from the extremely sheltered life that I had back there.
The freedom I tasted suddenly was no less than opium. Heady and exhilarating. The first and most exciting experience was that I could choose my friends. Back home, all my friends were screened and it was difficult for me to invite them home without letting my parents have an entire background check on them. Most friendships were aborted midway and the one I retained were always under the scanner. Boy friends were taboo. The great unmentionables.
Life at hostel seemed like a dream, and let me stop and tell you here, those were the best days of my life.
I made some lovely friends there. Great friends to whom I stay loyal even today, despite being out of regular touch.
My first friend was a girl from Kashmir. We just matched absolutely in our tastes and interests, so much that I could almost hear a “click” when we first met.
One thing that fascinated me most about my college was the high fashion that the girls followed. Almost every girl wore tight jeans, tiny tops and had short hair. I had hip length hair. Long, black and in my eyes at that time, boring.
I found myself torn between getting that cool, short hair look and the fear of getting a really bad scolding from my mother when I go home during my summer vacations.
Eventually the impulse of youth won and one Sunday I decided to visit the nearest hair saloon.
My friend from Kashmir was aghast. ‘You have got such lovely hair, don’t do it. It is a rare feature.’ She admonished. But I was driven and the more I imagined my new look, the more it strengthened my resolve.
‘No way. I want the chic, modern look.’ I was adamant. In retrospect I knew that it was also an act of defiance. And as I write this, years later, I smile. Perhaps I wanted to tell myself that I own me.
She being my best friend gave in and escorted me to the saloon. The hairdresser took agonizingly long time pondering over cutting it mid length or go for the immediate short cut, something I wanted. ‘Just below my ears.’ I told him. He advised me to go slow.
‘Get yourself acquainted with short hair, let me give you a shoulder length first. See how you feel about the sudden air blowing on your back and then go for a shorter style after few months.’ He said, looking with sympathy at the long strands between his fingers.
‘No. I said. Go for it. I want very short hair. The pageboy cut.’ He was still skeptical when he picked up the scissors and I thought these barbers are scissor happy persons!
Chop, chop, chop. There was a huge pile on the ground; the pile grew higher as I urged him to go shorter on my hair.
I could hear the intermittent gasps from my friend all the while the barber worked on my head. I was watching my face emerge from the pile of hair and honestly for few seconds I did feel the sudden fear, what would I say to my mom? How would I face her with this hair? Would it grow back to the same length six months later?
But it was too late. I had a really short pageboy cut hair now.
I could feel the cold air on the nape of my neck and the face that stared back at me was so different from what I remembered.
It was the face of someone I had just met. A new me.
at May 16, 2010