Monday, September 14, 2015

To Snap or Not To Snap

Some weeks ago I cut my hair really short. Well, not short by the normal standard, but short enough for me to take another look at the mirror to ensure it was me that I was looking at.

My mother always had long straight lustrous hair. She usually kept them tied up either with a handkerchief, or in a loose bun or a braid. But they refused to be confined. They would often escape the clutches of the rubber band and flow by the sides of forehead undaunted by her irritation. And then there were times -- only on an odd Sunday when she decided to wash them while we were at home -- she let them loose. As a child, I was enchanted by them: I loved the way they cascaded down her nape, fell over her shoulders, caressed her tiny, bare waist peeping out from her modestly tied sari.

It is no surprise that grew up wanting straight, long hair of my own. Thanks to my mother's practicality, however, I was instead sent along with father to his hair dresser who perched me up on a wooden plank over his fancy red chair and mercilessly chopped off my curls month after month. I hated him with all my might and would cry my heart out upon returning home, but my mother could not care less. The drama carried on for years until she allowed me to let my hair grow on one condition: I will have to take care of them myself.

I was over the moon and promptly started day-dreaming of a hip hugging braid. I oiled my hair regularly and shampooed occasionally (too much shampoo, we were told, wasn't good). As I grew older, I also started the amla-shikakai-reetha regimen, and sometimes even skipped school for these sessions. But there was one problem: my hair never grew long, or strong, or thick. The best I could manage was a soft wavy mop that reached just below my shoulders. Initially I would mope and stress about it, but eventually, with so much else to worry about, I made peace with it. But there was one thing I could never imagine doing: cutting them short. 

In the last few years however somehow my hair stared to gain length. Perhaps it was simply the if you love something set it free syndrome, perhaps something else, but I noticed them getting longer over a period of time, until they nearly reached my waist. Yes! The waist!

And so, for the past few years I kept them on without letting anyone touch them. I played with them, I caressed them, I looked at the mirror repeatedly, I tied them in neat buns and pretty braids. I sometimes let them loose too, something I had never done before. In all the loving and swooning, and the happiness of fulfillment of my life long dream, I did not notice that the length was not adding any value to my hair. Once soft and shiny, they had started getting rough, hard, and brittle. They would tangle and knot, they fell in clumps, but I kept them on. Until one day I realised they had to go: they had become far to rough and matted for me to even run a comb.

At the Salon, I instructed the hair dresser to cut off whatever he thought was not good enough. I shut my eyes as he got busy with his scissor: it was not easy to see them go. With every snip of the scissor I heard a part of my heart break --- the part that for the past twenty-five years had hoped that someday I will have long, straight, lustrous hair just like my mother and my aunt did. But when I saw them lay on the floor dry, brittle, dead and totally unlike I how I remembered them to be, I was happy that they were off my back.

As I headed home visibly lighter in my head, feeling like a diffrent person altogether, I realised I had been holding on to them for no reason. It also occurred to me that just like my dead hair, I had also been holding many dead dreams and dead relationships. It was perhaps time to cut them off too.

The thing is that when you have dreamt of something all your life, and have visualised it in a certain manner, you tend to cling on to it. It may be a position at work, a person in life, a possession at home. It becomes impossible to let go of it even though you might very well know that all it is doing is seeping your resources -- mental, physical, emotional, and sometimes financial also -- but you have wanted it so desperately that you cannot imagine life without it. At such times, perhaps, all we need to do is thank our destiny for fulfilling our dreams even if for a short period. Trust me it helps snip off not only the hair but everything else that no longer adds value to your life.


  1. Totally agree. well written and that analogy between hair and life's unwanted things is superb. :)