For the first 3 years of my life I had what they called a boy cut – I mean I assume once they could actually cut my hair. My dad believed that it was the smartest thing to do – fuss free, easy and all it needed was a trip to the barber shop with him whenever he went. So for these 3 years, I was styled with water and a thorough combing down to keep the hair from following their natural path against gravity.
Some time in the middle of my LKG, called KG back then, I met Shazia Begum. She was in my class, and I swear that’s her real name, because turns out I don’t forget names or faces to an almost eerie level. Now Shazia Begum had pretty, straight hair reaching below her shoulders, which her mother would tie up in a part pony, you know where you take just a part of the top hair and tie it up and let the rest loose? Shazia Begum was my hero, and with her started my incessant plea to my mother to let me grow my hair.
My mother I have to admit was a sweetheart who wouldn’t turn me down, so she agreed. So after a short phase, when I looked like Sachin Tendulkar (this is from a Facebook comment left on a childhood pic I posted), I finally had enough hair to tie into a pony. I was beyond thrilled. Because long hair meant hair bands and ties and clips matching your clothes. And thus ended my trips to the barber.
Like they say about us humans, however much we think we have grown, our inherent traits never change. Our hair is the same. So while my hair started growing in length, and I had a LOT of hair, it never changed it’s belief in the ‘reach for the sky’ theory. I was now down to braids, usually two, neatly parted, thick ropes of hair. By the time I was in class 6, my hair was long. I think this is when boredom stuck again, or I guess I felt there could be more to hair than braids.
I wanted a fringe, a ‘flick’ to be exact. A flick is basically longer bangs that partly cover your forehead, and don’t fall straight to your eyebrows. I told my mother this and so she packed me and my sister away with my dad – to the his barber. In class 6 you don’t know there are parlors and barbers and that they are different. So I went and told this guy to give me a flick cut. And the next thing I remember is looking at myself in the mirror to see tufts of hair standing behind my ears and all over my forehead, and yes, still defying gravity.
It took more than a month for the hair to grow out, and I have to admit it eventually did grow into the ‘flick’ I had requested, only it was quite denser than you would expect because, yes, too much hair. What was unfair was my sister had the perfect hair for a fringe and her hair was falling just right! But I promised myself that I would stay away from haircuts. And I did, this time for long, till the end of my graduation which was all about french braids. And right after I wrote CAT and visited home for a break, I went to the nearest parlor, and for the first time in my life, cut my hair to my shoulders.
It was liberating, to be able to just tie up your hair though it got boring after a while. But haircuts are addictive. So when I was to join K, I visited a pretty well known parlor Simi’s in my city. The had stylist was a Javed bhaiyya and I asked him to change my hairstyle and he did a ‘step cut’, perhaps the only cut I had heard of. I went back thrilled, in the same old ponytail, only it looked a wee bouncier.
I should have stopped at that, but like I said, haircuts are addictive. So after my first term, and right before summer placements, a very wrong time I should add here, I revisited the same place. Javed Bhaiyya as not around, so I got Kammo aunty. So Kammo aunty was going at my hair, while I was busy day dreaming, and in all of 10 mins, my hair was at the shortest it had been in forever, in other words, too short and with a renewed belief in their anti gravity theory.
The next month was horrifying and I firmly believed it was my hair that made me lose out on one of the interviews too. That was the last time I cut my crazy hair and very soon I stepped into the world of straightening. This, lasted me a decade. And though the lengths varied every year, it didn’t matter, because straight is straight is straight and it just looks the same.
Only this year, I decided to go drastic. Actually I have been tired of the salon folks showing increasing levels of amazement every time I revealed how many times I have straightened my hair, so I thought that at 35, I will put an end to this and revisit the salon for a hair cut, a real one after a long time, on my own natural hair. Only, I got impatient so I decided to do a test run at 33. I did a lot of research on stylists in Hyderabad who could handle think, frizzy, south Indian hair, and got as many as one name. So I went to him, exactly a day after I turned 33.
This guy did not stare at me in disbelief, or laugh at me when I said I wanted to go short and back to my natural hair. He just showed me a cartoon of this girl who is all crying after cutting her long hair and asked me if I was sure. I told him I was ok as long as I did not 1) Look like Sai Baba 2) Did not have to spend more than 5 minutes fixing my hair every day 3) did not look like Sai Baba. He said, ‘leave it to me’.
I did. Apparently there are now ways to ‘de-voluminise’ your hair. What the guy actually said was ‘ you have too much hair per square centimeter.’ Ahem. It’s been two months and I am well settled into my short curly bob, which I am not supposed to comb at all. All I get to do it is wash it and scrunch it and let it air dry. I usually take the shorter route and sprinkle my hair with water when I want to fix it. And man, it’s easy. Long hair is pretty, but short hair is super cool and easy. No more combing, conditioning, detangling, braiding for me, I’m free.
Only not really. Because Zo has decided to grow her hair. There is no Shazia Begum in her class, but looks like Elsa did the job. And I make peace with the fact that atleast it’s just one head at a time.