“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing.”
You know how it is, when things are not actually how they seem. Well, everything is like that. It looks easy but it’s not easy. It looks unmanageable but it may not be. My husband at this point will tell me how paranoid I am and how I look at things with much more thought than it requires. But that’s the truth – things are never as they seem. Hence, I tend to look deeper.
So this story is about my hair. Yes, my hair. My tangled, messy, curly hair – a symbol of my life. Just like any other story, this story starts from the beginning – my childhood. So I was born on a bright sunny afternoon in August. Looking like a tiny fat cub with hardly any mane on my head. Few weeks later I grew a handful of curls. Now not to be boastful or anything but I haven’t seen a cuter child in my entire life. Yes, I haven’t. No, I don’t remember that from the reflection in the mirror. I just happen to know. Sorry to hurt anybody’s feelings at this point, but that’s the truth. I was a chubby, happy child who was always ready to be clicked. Yeah, I knew I will grow up to become a model or something. (That was the plan at least.)
Moving on, my head full of hair grew a little longer and curlier. Now my hair somewhat resembled that of Sachin Tendulkar’s in 90s. Not very flattering for a 5 year old girl but what do I know about hair trends?
A few years later I wished to grow my hair longer but that was not going to happen any time soon. I was living at my grandmother’s where I spent most of my childhood. Let’s just agree on the fact that grandparents are way more cooler than parents will ever be. They are cool about everything because they have been there done that. I was a 9 year old now, and have started to take pride (finally) in the way I look – awkward. Yes, I have finally started to take pride in my awkwardness (years later I realized it’s pronounced awesomeness). My hair, which I desperately wanted to grow like all other girls to plait it to school, has started to cover my ears now. So, I had started to see my dream come true. Almost!
One fine day, it was probably a Sunday, when everyone was home. It was drizzling outside and thus, no one could go anywhere. Everyone woke up late except my grandmother and my youngest aunt who is 10 years my elder. We all had breakfast and have started to look for our sources of entertainment for the rest of the day. My youngest aunt who was 19 years at the time adored me and my cousin. And, of course, we reciprocated the same feelings for her. She decided to comb our hair that day to keep it out of our faces. So, my cousin being the elder one got her hair combed first. I was next in line with this curly mess on my head which has started to resemble an unorganized, lazy bird’s nest until it is tied in a tiny ponytail.
She started to comb my hair, and groaned several times in horror. I was wondering what was wrong because the way she was pulling my hair to tie it, I should be the one groaning. She tied my hair and went up to my Grandma and said something in Telugu. I couldn’t understand what was going on. The rest of the afternoon went by somehow studying and eating lunch. After our little siesta, my aunt took me and my cousin for a walk. If she does that today, I will definitely be wary but what does a 9 year old know about the world. She got both of us chocolates and said that she has to go to a parlour to get some beauty stuff done and that we would be accompanying her. We were ecstatic, we have never been to a beauty parlour before. Everything after that is a blur. I remember seeing a child crying her eyes out in the mirror, being told that if she would move, she may miss her ears for the rest of her life. Yes, I got a haircut. I looked like a 9 year old boy now!
Make no mistake, I love my aunt a lot and today I understand what she did was for my own good but that night I couldn’t have hated her more. I missed school the next day on the pretext of having a stomachache (I used to get away with that a lot). In reality, I was too embarrassed to step out. The rest of the day was spent in contemplation of how my life has been ruined and that I would be mortified for the rest of my life. Of course, I got to know the exact conversation between my grandma and aunt that took place on that dreary day.
My aunt murmured to Grandma, “Their hair has become long and unmanageable”
“Hmmm?” my grandma gave my aunt an inquisitive look.
“I think they should get their hair cut. Who will tie their hair up every morning when they always run late for schools? They cannot do that themselves yet. I am taking them in the evening to get their hair cut.”
My Grandma agreed. She just agreed. How could she?
As far as I could remember. I had the same hair until I turned 14 years old. As if my hair refused to grow in protest. Well, at least that is the picture one would get looking at my photographs through the years. I was growing up into a beautiful young lady yet would rebel like boys and would prefer playing cricket with boys than to play with girls. Yes, my hair really changed the way I fit in the world. I started acting like boys. There was this instance when one of my friends dared me to jump off a roof of a first floor building, which was under construction, onto a huge heap of sand. And I did it. Yes, because that is what boys did. Girls that age would either chicken out or find no rhyme and reason to do something so stupid just because someone dared you to.
I started to look at life differently than girls my age. While all other teenage girls were obsessed with how beautiful they looked I pretended I didn’t care. Yes, I pretended. Secretly, I wished to be more like them when I knew I am not. After a few years I grew out of that too. I started to indulge myself in books. Lots of books. I took up membership for the British Library in town and started to go every Sunday and sometimes on weekdays after school. I took solace in the library. It still is my favourite place in the world. That little British Library on Church Road. Oh, how amazing it looked on a rainy day. So inviting. Meanwhile, my hair has started to brush my shoulder by the time I turned 15 years old. Now, I didn’t care. I have moved on. I hated how it looked now. I stopped looking in the mirror. No, I didn’t hate how it looked, I didn’t care any more. In fact, I had my own share of head-turning moments by then. Mostly I would shrug off the attention thinking that I am looking weirder than every other day.
By the time I was 17, my hair reached a couple of inches below my shoulder. Once again, I started taking pride in the way I looked. I started taking care of myself. Mostly I would braid my hair because that is what I had missed all these years. This was the time I started getting compliments from people. Mostly a comparison to this Bollywood actress or the other with an exclamation of how similar I looked to her. The one Bollywood actress I was mostly compared with at this age was Kajol Mukherjee. Especially in DDLJ and Baazigar. I didn’t like her at all and I didn’t have green eyes. How do people even draw comparisons these days! This DDLJ hair has to go!
I realized what I was doing wrong eventually that made me look like a version of DDLJ’s Kajol. I was combing my curly hair everyday. Yes, that was the mistake. Combing my hair everyday made my hair look like the fluffy cotton you put into stuffed toys. I stopped combing my hair every day and started giving it a coconut oil massage a day before I would shampoo. It worked wonders! Finally everyone stopped calling me Kajol although I started to like her a bit by now. She is beautiful. Not glamorous but beautiful. Today I realize that she is far more good looking than the actresses nowadays, who depend on face contouring, highlighting and plastic surgeons to look pretty even before they reach 40.
Present day, I have realised that my hair just like my life doesn’t need a lot of work. It will take care of itself as far as I do little bit here and there. It doesn’t matter how much I fret and compare it to other people’s hair it will still be the way it is destined to be. It is better than a few people’s and worse than a few. It has it’s share of good days and bad days. I just have to make do with it. It’s unmanageable mess and beautiful at the same time just like my life. So I have decided to make the most of it while it lasts! Both my hair and my life!