“What kind of haircut do you want?” Frank asked me.
“I want a pixie cut,” I replied.
“I want something soft.” I showed him a few photos.
He nodded. He held his scissors and the comb in other hand and asked, “Are you ready?”
“Are you sure?” my hairdresser had asked me. This was five months ago. It was a different hair salon. My hairdresser was a trainee (read cheap haircut). My hair was almost waist length.
“Yes, actually, I want it shorter.”
“This much?” She held her fingers close to my neck.
Shorter, I had wanted to say. Like really short. But her fear was contagious. I dropped the idea and nodded yes.
“Are you sure?” she asked again.
“Yes,” I said calmly.
I had loved them once, my long hair. I used to try different hairstyles. I learnt many braiding techniques. I coloured my hair. I loved those red highlights. My hair was a dream. When I was three my parents got my head shaved. The experience was traumatizing. I was in shock for several weeks. Such was my love for my hair – there was an actual mourning period. I was bald for a brief period of time. Later, I sported a bob cut for most of my childhood.
“Why wouldn’t you let me grow my hair?” I would ask my mother.
“You are too young for long hair.”
I was more feminine when I was a child. I wanted lipstick and nail polish. I wanted to wear saree and salwar-kameez with dupatta. I wanted bangles and earrings. But when I grew up puberty convinced me that I was ugly and no amount of cosmetics and elegant clothing could save me – in fact, it was probable that they might end up making me look uglier.
“Yeah, I am ready,” I told Frank. I wouldn’t have been there otherwise.
This was huge. There must be a dramatic classical music in the background. They were playing Shotgun again. It takes courage to do something like this – one of my friends had later commented. It doesn’t take courage. I just had to turn up at a hair salon and say the two golden words, “Pixie Cut.”
I wasn’t sure if short hair was going to suit me. But certainly, it was bound to make me look different.
Khach. Khach. Khach.
“SO, how long had you been planning this?” Frank tried to re-initiate our conversation.
“Well, that’s a long time…”
“What if it looks absolutely horrendous?” I had asked myself standing in front of the mirror a day before.
“Certainly we wouldn’t know unless we try,” the mirror replied.
“I don’t have the face or personality to carry short hair,” I argued.
“Are you sure?”
No mirror had been so encouraging before. It had taken me a year and an entirely different country to find one.
Frank was already working on the last section at the front. Small pieces were falling on my forehead. They were itchy. I had closed my eyes, though I wanted to sneak a peek.
“Do you like it?” Frank asked me finally, holding my chair from the back.
“I love it,” I said looking at the mirror.
I didn’t know for sure if it was the best hairstyle for me. But it was so different that I didn’t care. I walked to the reception, paid and wondered once again how expensive haircut was in the UK. But I would have never done it back in India, so I thought it was worth it. I wanted to stare at the mirror and part my hair in different ways – see what looked best but I felt too shy to do it. I stepped outside, felt the wind blowing my ultra short hair. I smiled appreciating the fact that they were not all over my face.
Maybe I was just imagining it but more people were looking at me that day. I didn’t look away. I maintained eye contact. So I did have a personality for a pixie cut all this while, I suppose. I may have been implying it but my haircut didn’t actually mean – New look, New me. It was really just – My friend did it. So I would do it too.
It’s been three days. I have been touching my hair 72 hours straight. There’s heaven over my head. I have admired how surprised people have been. Some of them hate it but most don’t. I don’t. And my advice to you, if you want to get a pixie cut too, would be – Just do it. There might be some criticism. You might draw some attention. You might be a center for debate for a while. Tell them it’s just hair really – we ought to talk about better things than some dead cells growing on your head. Period.