SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hair Today, Gone tomorrow

An Indian Woman oh so prides her hair!

From the day a baby girl is born, the focus for most Indian Mothers is that mop on the head...
keeping it black and long becomes her lifelong goal and ambition...leave alone the fact that mother dear has lost much of hers over the years, to chlorinated corporation water (if you are from Chennai), or any dubious source of water as may be pumped into your tank, what with ground water reaching its all time low in any city and natural well /artesian water becoming a dream of the past, yet she will spend a large part of her life caring for the hair.


Mine too was such an upbringing...
My sister had a healthy mop of thick wavy hair, watered and fed (read that as oiled and shikakaid), by mum from the day she was born (substitute shikakai with gram flour in the early years). Yet any pride placed on the first born was short lived as my sister lost all that lustre and sheen very early on to a severe bout of Jaundice. So the attention turned to me, and much to mother's satisfaction I was endowed with straight long hair, a shade browner than she would have liked, but none the less, she tended to it like her beloved garden.

Weekly oil baths were a must, thoroughly soaked and properly massaged, no foreign unguents were allowed to smear that scalp, only "home made shikakai" (laboriously she would acquire all the ingredients for this, ranging from shikakai pods, hibiscus flowers, some lime rinds, fenugreek seeds, and so many other items that I don't even recall, placed on a huge plate under the sun for days to dry naturally and then to be ground into a fine powder, that would be measured out to us every Saturday, after the mandatory oiling, in a cup...2-3 spoons, not more, not less, to be rubbed vigorously by us, with much dislike and despair).

If you have used this home made version then you would also empathise with me on my despair, long oily hair does not wash easily with Shikakai...period. It takes a good amount of rubbing to remove all the oil, and then an added effort to remove the shikakai from the hair, no amount of water would be enough, and invariably while wiping down the hair, we would get admonished for not a) removing the oil well enough ...or...b) not washing the shikakai well enough

Oh Boy, it makes the modern day shampoo...or even the highly "soapy" brand of shikakai shampoo/powder available in the market look like some exotic beauty treatment.

But then you would disagree with me, what with "Go Back to Old Ways" becoming quite a litany nowadays! Yet all that I liked about those shikakai days was the lovely... lingering smell... mmmmm...

So I had long, brownish black hair, that I would churlishly allow my mother to comb into 2 braids/plaits.

Churlish; you would wonder, well considering I was always ready to do some thing different...
by the time I was 15 years old...I was rebelling where my hair was concerned.


I disliked oiling my hair...
I disliked putting them in 2 plaits
I wanted to shampoo...

So what do you think I did?

I quietly went to the beauty parlour and cut it off...frankly in the most unsuitable, fringed haircut I could possible manage for myself...and then the fear factor hit me!!

Not only will my mother throw a fit, I also had a grandmother, whose traditions forbade us "girls" to have a scissor touch our scalp...a Woman/Girl never cut her hair...that's it....

I did not have the guts to enter the house after this totally radical move of mine, so I sat outside the house for almost 1 and half hours, till my mother finally opened the door to come out, and to see my new avatar
...but with due credit to her, she did not say anything to me...that day...

But yes, I did hear her out another day, and forever after...
...my hair has never fallen as low in her eyes, as on that day...

So the story of my hair continues, as I continued to grow and then threaten to cut it off, in an ever changing love hate relationship with that piece of dead asset.

To cut a long story short...after 10 years of marriage, once again I chopped off my long hair! But I found a vacuum in that space, as my hair now refuses to grow...alas...it has finally given up on me and my mood swings I guess...

I have similar tales to narrate with my daughter, as I oil and shampoo her hair every weekend, I instruct myself not to be attached to that source of womanly pride, as it can only lead to heartbreak, for though she now leans toward the longer version...at any time I know, she can come to me with "I want to chop it off" expression...

Let it go, I tell myself...after all it is only hair...with or without it, her beauty surely shines through her soul...

So also I tell myself the same...as my dear mother struggles with the dreaded cure which could take away her coveted hair...I tell myself, and her (silently)
Let it go Amma...after all its just your hair, your beauty always shines through your soul...

(This post is dedicated to my mother...)

and was written for Indiblogger, call for blog posts...and that was the end of my hair problems