It feels a little alarming to be sitting in an airport and not complaining about incompetent airport workers and fellow travelers who think a good resting spot for their butts is my elbow. But the day is still young and infant-like — it still has the potential to grow up rapidly and hit an irritable teenage rebellion phase. I may start growling soon or muttering under my breath.
In preparation for my travels back to college this time, I crammed my suitcase full of coffee powder, stolen shawls from my mother’s closet, books that will soon have to compete with my timetable’s demands and a variety of obscenities under the broad category of #justcollegethings. But one thing I always dedicate myself to attaining before travel is a haircut. I announce to the household that a chop-chop is incoming. My granny always responds with woebegone eyes, but I stand my ground.
A lot of things in life feel like rare luxuries — a meandering trip down Duty Free shopping, an Uber that has an AUX cord and a silent driver, three square meals in a college day. But I never feel more extravagant than when my head alone is placed inside a wash basin and massaged by hands that transfer what is surely magic from their fingertips to my scalp via shampoo and conditioner.
Every time I get a haircut preceded by a relaxing hair-wash, I determine that after this haircut, I will make sure to treat my hair with the same parental care and devoted attachment as the barber does. I will silently observe the technique and replicate it when I wash my hair the next time. I will run my fingers through my hair confidently and not sob in horror when entire chunks of hair strands slither down my back. I will buy these aromatic shampoos and conditioners from the salon and make them a permanent fixture in my bathroom.
Of course, this all melts away when my father asks about the price of this wondrous shampoo-conditioner duo and then scoffs. My mother, meanwhile, stands brandishing a proud bottle of coconut oil and declaring that my head, and to be honest, all of my body, needs nothing more than five table-spoonfuls of coconut oil and maybe some turmeric and lemon for good measure.
But in that moment in the salon, when it’s just me and the scissors in our secluded bond of love and keratin, I get a taste of royalty. I imagine that the blobs of shampoo foam on my head take the form of a shiny tiara. I imagine my lustrous locks cascading and bouncing playfully off my collarbones, attracting multiple admirers.
The keyword here is imagine. You see, there is a fatal factor that needs to be accounted for every time I visit the salon: my glasses have to be removed. And once my glasses are removed, I can’t differentiate between which is my mother and which is my brother unless I shove my head into the face and decide if it smells of after-shave or turmeric. The point I’m trying to capture is this: my blindness stops me from evaluating the barber’s progress with my head. I have to have strong faith, because I don’t have my eyesight. As a result, I cannot see my own transformation until it has already been blow-dried. No way to abort mission, that is.
Luckily, after a few less-than-satisfactory haircuts with less-than-perfect eyesight, I wised up. I procured maturity. I decide now that it’s just hair; it’ll grow back; your head won’t always look like an unevenly baked muffin. I give myself a pep-talk and reach home, anxiously awaiting approval, comfort and the misplaced sense of validation from my friends and family.
You look the same
I didn’t even notice the length changed
You look like a slightly more evenly baked muffin, I guess
Even on the wise and mature mind, these offensive comments can take a toll. But I’m happy to report that I respond appropriately: I run away to a different continent and I say it’s for education. On the way there, I blog about it, knowing fully well that I’m weaving a painfully elaborate story about a few strands of hair.
In conclusion: I got a haircut two days ago and naturally, I used the experience to make my life sound more riveting than it actually is.
P.S Suggestions for affordable shampoo-conditioner alternatives are always welcome
Originally published at thefourthpowerpuffgirl.wordpress.com on January 15, 2018.