Should you get a Pixie Cut?

He held his scissors and the comb in the 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. My hair was a dream. I had 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 piece of 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.”

Khach.Khach.Khach.

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.
“A year.”
“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.

Khach.

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 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 looked right back. So I did have a personality for a pixie cut all this while, I suppose.

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.

*

Featured Image Courtesy: myhoustondaily.com
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The Rickshaw driver

Out there underneath the setting sun, stands a brightly painted yellow and green tri-wheeled vehicle shamelessly exposing the sponge beneath its disheveled and wounded seat. This injury, being too neglected and way down the priority list for a first aid, doesn’t deter the rickshaw from flaunting off the poster of blue-eyed Sonakshi Sinha at its back. Along with this badly battered and yet arrogantly grumpy thing, stands a grumpier man, the driver of this auto-rickshaw who is too crossed and too careless to comment on the crimson sky or be aware of how he has been scratching his groin ceaselessly for the last five minutes. He scoffs at the memory of his miserable day and puts the paan in his mouth hoping that it would distract him from his foul mood. But even the highest of high cannot make him stop thinking about the dreadfulness of the dusty streets or the burning heat of the sun or the suffocation in the traffic jam and the cacophonous horns of the cars or the poisonous smoke or the irritating beggars and the policemen. He thinks of his most frequent customers –  the vendors who stink of fish, the maids who don’t know how to sit silently or the ladies who can spend 5000 bucks on wallets without complaining but will start a war for that extra 10 bucks he asked for. He is pissed at the garbage heap nearby, at the receding effect of his paan, at the stinking wall where he would himself be peeing and at the people around; each and every one of them. His back aches from the constant sitting, his eyes hurt because they have dried due to the ceaseless staring at the road and what more! He was nearly hit by a car today! He still gets goose flesh with just a momentary thought of it. He had never imagined that the annoying screech of a halting car could one day become the most blissful symphony he would ever hear. Had it not been there, he hadn’t even been alive to curse the most atrocious words at it later. But one mustn’t blame the sound. It’s the driver! The bitch! The cunt who doesn’t even know how to drive but she will drive anyway. There’s a reason why they say women are the worst drivers! The stupid creatures are too busy applying lipstick or talking to their boyfriends on their phones to handle the steering wheel. Have some mercy at the people around you, Madam! You can win an award if you could just refrain yourself from handling a car. “Kya Madam! Aapko dikhta nahi kya?” He recalls how he had hollered at her. And in return, she had howled back with equal ferocity. Her voice lacked the usual sophistication these high class ladies seem to possess. It was high pitched, capable of rupturing every eardrum in the radius of twelve feet. She screamed and screamed in her stinging voice without a single trace of guilt or shame in it. This aggravated him further. He was the one who could have got killed! He was the one who should be shouting like a mad man! Not this foolish dumb witted lady! Unable to tolerate her anymore, he drove away immediately.

The head ache and the nausea hits him again. Why did he think of that woman! He needs another dose of tobacco. He searches for it in his trousers but finds nothing but some crumpled papers. The throbbing in his head worsens. Could the day get any better?
He starts driving to the nearest stall to procure his most trusted medicine and that’s when he catches her glimpse. Even before he could think of it, he stops and shouts “Kidhar?”. The girl walks up to him and asks back,  “Athwa?” He suddenly recalls that he had called it a day but then there is no way he can say no to her.
“Baithiye…”
“How much?” She asks.
“Whatever you think is fair.”
“Fifty?”
Usually he would have asked for seventy but he doesn’t argue. Fifty is also fair. He pulls the lever and the engine roars back to life. He makes sure that the rearview mirror is adjusted in such a way that it’s easy to steal glances at her.  She is really pretty. Not just because she is fair or slim but she has an innocent charm that’s very rare to find. He looks at her again. She is looking away at the buildings passing by, lost in her own thoughts. She is not texting or talking on the phone like these youngsters usually do. She is just there as if she is the part of the background. Her presence strangely calms him. He carefully prolongs his glances. He notices the light kajal in her eyes, her black bra strap that’s slightly peeking through her kurti, her eyebrows beautifully shaped, her hands clasped with one another resting on her knees, the faint wrinkles on her lips, the tiny spots on her cheeks…
“You study here?” He asks.
She nods.
The streetlight falls on her face and he is once again reminded of why he had halted at the first place. He forgets about his addiction; about how he had been missing his high. He forgets about the witch who had almost killed him. He just wants to look at this beautiful face and nothing else.
“You have a very good character, I can tell that…” he says trying his hard to come up with an appropriate compliment.
When she doesn’t say anything, he continues, “You don’t speak much. Aapka nature bahut accha hai. Ekdum shant… ”
The girl looks at him and smiles awkwardly.
“No, but really, people like you are rare.”
“Bhaiya, yahi pe utaar dijiye…”
“Lekin–”
“I need to get off here only.”
He stops. The girl hastily gives him the money and walks away.
He stays there for a while staring at her till she disappears in the streets. His hands find a packet of tobacco in his breast pocket. Pleasantly surprised, he hurriedly empties the content in his mouth. The taste disgusts him. “Bitch!” He shouts as he spits on the ground and drives away.

***

 Author’s little note: You can find the other two stories of Bitch Trilogy here.

An unnecessarily guilty glance

I  am waiting outside the juice shop, thirsty and tired, putting an enormous amount of expectation on a tiny glass of sugarcane juice that is yet to be served. My face is smeared  in pink and yellow and some other weird combinations. My arms are still tingling from what could have been a regretful sunburn after a long celebratory drive back to our city, to this shop.Despite the brutal tanning and dehydration, I can’t help but feel elated. And why not? I am drenched in festivity! How I adore this festival of hues! This craziness!

I am at my usual lost-in-thought state when I feel a light tug on my elbow – ‘Behen O Behen! Le Lona’

Annoyed, I turn around. A little girl is trying to sell Gulal to me.

I look at the packets of colours in her hands and I know I shouldn’t buy them. Those are the kinds of colours that should be kept away from your skin at all cost unless you happen to like rashes.I am tempted anyway. It’s Holi after all! Everyone needs to celebrate today! But before I could know it, I have dropped the idea again – Nahi, bacche, nahi chahiye. No child, I don’t want it.

Lelona. Please? – She requests again.

You can call her a beautiful child if you look at her carefully; Her brown eyes, that goes with her brown complexion, her perfectly aligned teeth, her straight thin nose and the innocence in her voice.I have come down to my knees. My fingers are now fondling with colours inside the packet I have. No, I can’t buy the so-called Gulal from her and I won’t. It is against my easily adaptable principles. But I paint both her cheeks green and greet her a happy Holi.

She is surprised. A smile brightens up her face. Suddenly, she forgets why she is even here! I offer her my cheek. She dips her small fingers in my packet and slather the colour over my face. Now, I am heavily dusted in green as well. Her smile has broadened. No one has ever seemed so happy just with these small gestures before.

I am smiling too. I try to feed in the details of her happy face in my head.You,little girl,are such a delightful lovely poem that I can’t even pen you down. Maybe someday when I am worth and capable of putting your beauty in words, I will. But for now, I still can’t buy these packets of pity from you that you still hold in your hands, that you are still going to try to sell to other prospective buyers a few minutes from now. And though you are still smiling at me and you don’t even want my money anymore, I just find myself letting out an inaudible and invisible murmur  – ‘I am sorry’.I know that you are not asking for my apology. You don’t want it. Actually, it’s I who really needs it – as a futile attempt to pacify my own confused conscience. I am sorry because I don’t think you deserve this. I am sorry because I can’t help you escape the circumstances you have been born in. I can’t save you from your parents making you sell these packets. I can’t send you to school and I can’t teach you either. And neither can I ever take responsibility for your better childhood or better future. Not that there is no way for achieving any of this, it’s just that I am lazy and I am running short of efforts to uplift my own life. Looking at you, I raise those never-to-be-answered questions to my fate again. Why you? Why me? They aren’t answered of course. As usual, they turn their backs on me. And then I turn my back on you after one last cheerful, apologetic and perhaps an unnecessarily guilty glance.

The great Indian Toilet issue

 

I like to travel a lot. And in my day dreams I do travel a lot. However, in reality I haven’t traveled as much as I want to or I want myself to want to because-

A. I am lazy.

B. I am not very comfortable traveling alone. ( And my friends aren’t always ready to accompany)

C. I can not poop or pee like I do at home.

C. I can not poop or pee like I do at home.

Nevermind-reaction-gif

One of the most underrated thing in the world has been the feeling when you can spend as much time as you can in a loo. Pee, poop or bath ..Do whatever and you have nothing to worry about. That’s a freedom worth fighting for.

And no, I am not kidding. You know I am not kidding.

It’s such such such a great relief to be able to pee or poop at a nice place. And there is no nicer place than a home or maybe a five start hotel. But we can not really afford a five star hotel every time we need to do our business. So, yes, using the loo at home is most economical and hygienic option.

I have thanked god for various things; I have thanked him/her/it for such loving parents, for wonderful siblings, for equally awesome friends, for good grades at school, for barely being able to pass the semester exams, for a beautiful dress or a shoe or a bag or a fountain pen but I have never thanked him for a nice clean toilet and that’s what I am going to do today.

I thankest thee, O lord – whoever thou are “the creature upstairs” for a good washroom. I shall forever be grateful.

But the sad part is that not everybody in this world has a pleasure of a good toilet. I have been among the lucky ones in that regard.

The act of peeing or pooping should bring out the emotion of great relief but in India, it brings out the emotion of great dread in many many people. And that is because they don’t have access to a good toilet toilet at all!

And the story doesn’t end here. Because of the unavailability of toilet not only are the people not able to pee or poop comfortably, they are also sometimes stalked  or looted or eve-teased or raped or murdered. Yeah.. how you ask? If you don’t have a toilet at home, of course you have no option but to go outside and search for secluded private place.

Did someone just say SECLUDED AND PRIVATE PLACE?

And if you are a woman…

Wow.

 

It’s a shame. And we all are acutely aware of that.

The reason that I am mentioning all this is not because suddenly I feel like doing some serious talk over some serious issue. I don’t do that. More like I can’t do that. But this huge concern over the great Indian toilet issue began to hover upon my heart and mind when I found myself in a rather interesting situation when I was traveling a few  weeks ago. My stomach got upset at the wrong time and at the wrong place and it was  uh..well.. a memorable experience. But on the positive note I managed things quite well and I am still in one piece; Safe and sound. When I reached back home after this interesting journey of mine, I felt so good, sooooo good seeing the nice clean bathroom  that I began to feel sorry for those who don’t have access to hygienic loos. It’s as essential as the food we eat. It really is. In fact they are more essential than food. When I am not at home I eat and drink according to the availability of the hygienic toilets. If it’s not there than I limit my food and fluid intake. So, I can quite safely conclude that my diet depends upon the toilet.

Is it all conveying too much information about my private life?

In the era, when people post there interesting photographs at Instagram, mention where they are heading to, where they are, what they are eating, what they are watching, what they are listening to, how they are feeling at every instant, I think it never is too much information. So, yeah, according to me I am good to go.

And as of the Great Indian toilet issue, I do feel that I should do something about it. Contribute somehow. Make this country a better place to live. But as of now, it’s just in my head. I hope, I hope that I will come out of my laziness zone and actually do something and not just think or publish a post about it.

What a better place would it be if each one of us actually does what we think we should do. What a better world would it be!