A hairy account

It all started with just a silly comment, ones that are generally made without the involvement of the right (not right or left right, but right or wrong right) side of the mind, comments that usually are blurted out, which are not meant to be taken seriously, and should not be used for future reference so as to gain an upper hand in any conversation. In this particular scenario, the relationship between the maker of the comments and the taker of the same assumes great importance. Say the relationship is of peer level, as in plain friends. Once the stupid comment is made, and both the parties involved realize the stupidity of them at just about the same time, either a) the taker would call on the maker and the maker immediately gives in and both of them laugh it off, or b) the taker and the maker immediately realize the asinine nature of the comments and the taker keeps mum about them, so as to not embarrass the maker and make the moment really awkward. An example of such kind of comments would read, Indian cricket team never wins important matches, because they are handsomely paid off to throw them away. If the relationship is not on an even keel, like a parent-child or a superior-subordinate dynamic, the taker would take pity on the maker and would correct him immediately to set him on the right path. The maker too, on his part, would yield in deference to the suggestions of the taker, be it because of the disparity in the levels, or because of the firm belief that the taker's intentions are truly genuine. Next in line is one of the most complex, inexplicable and mysterious relationship that exists between a husband a wife.

It is not completely a peer-level relationship, where husband and wife are on an even footing, despite what feminists and some film-makers would have us believe. It is not entirely a superior-subordinate scenario with both male and female taking either position depending on who wears the pants in the house. Generally speaking, in the male chauvinist(ic pig's) world, the relationship would remain at a peer level, as long as the female agrees/acquiesces/and applauds, from time to time, all the comments that are made by the man. When the female starts to question the veracity/authenticity/and in some cases, the validity of those comments, the relationship quickly turns into a hostile superior-subordinate kind, with the male assuming the role of the superior, relegating the female to the subordinate position, much against her wishes. Also the male immediately turns off his receptors, and refuses to acknowledge, let alone accept, the female's suggestions or counter-comments vis-a-vis his original blubberings. This action is usually termed as "taking a stand". Once someone (that someone, for most part, is the male) takes a stand, logic, reason and basic comprehension skills are usually thrown out of the window, as he continues to surge forward purely on the merit of his social status, higher voice and bloated ego. There is a particularly telling verse in the Gita which deals with this specific situation of the mind spiraling out of control hurrying towards it's eventual doom, as it starts to lose one faculty after another in quick succession, all culminating in the person turning clinically insane. Though the situation between a husband and his wife would never turn that dire, because when it generally starts to head in that director, the female's wisdom prevails over, as she backs out of the conversation, leaving the male gloating about his hollow victory.

The situation can turn even interesting, if the female can drive the male into painting himself in a corner, from which the only way out is to concede his position and bail out respectfully. But in cases, the male becomes adamant to yield his ground...

In hindsight, I agree that my comment was stupid, out of place and totally unnecessary. I, like any other typical South Indian, have a fascination with long, flowing (braided would do too) hair on females, to the point that I openly admire on other females, in front of my own female form, for, I consider it as any other attribute of beauty and nothing more. All the songs that I have seen till date made by classic film-makers, involved long flowing hair, when it came objectification (er..personification) of beauty in the females. Though I had not dreamed about a wife with long flowing hair since my childhood, like how it is with girls and princes in shining armor on white horses, I had absolutely no problem with what I got as my share of bounty in terms of tresses department. Which is why it came as a rude shock to me, when one day the female form came up to me and said that she would like to cut it short, not exceeding beyond the neck, citing convenience. I couldn't believe what I just heard. Why would anybody want to willfully part with that great attribute of womanhood, even if entails putting up with a little discomfort. Add to that, the latest flier from the neighborhood hair stylist to slash down tresses and prices, in that order, didn't do me any good. It felt that the whole world was conspiring against me, denying my legally granted privilege of gazing endlessly at the twisted hair knot, whenever I felt like. A lot of discussions, negotiations, bargains and barters ensued, as I didn't want to give up on my follicle-fetish without putting up a good fight. I knew that the odds were really stacked up against me and I couldn't hold on any longer with just a "beauty, womanhood" card, while the female form is stacking up convenience, ease of handling, lesser time and energy on grooming procedures, and the dreaded on, prospect of piercing headache post a shower session, which might in fact turn into something more serious.

That she was even asking my permission, I knew deep down, was just a token of respect, and that I could do absolutely nothing if she just got up, walked into a hair salon, did the deed and walked back in calmly. No sooner it occurred to me that I had no logical jurisdiction over this matter, I resorted to playing the "husband knows better" card, "I am older than you and hence have lot more experience and consequently more say in this matter" card, and the trump card, "I have sacrificed a lot for you, can't you do just this thing for me". When all talks have broken down, negotiations came to a standstill and the situation settled on a stalemate, I invoked my executive privilege - "If you go ahead against my wishes and lighten you load on the head, I am going to reciprocate in kind and go bald, not only on the head, but around the upper lip", in the silly hope that all females would want their men to sport a macho look, with long side-burns, a rugged beard, and a menacing mustache. And when she pounced on my idea and shook hands on that vigorously, I realized that she was going to go ahead with it and that she had already made up her mind. Which is when the vicious comment, that had started it all, came out like a thousand daggers - "You silly weaker sex, you moan and cry about every little thing that gets just a tad inconvenient. You people neither have the stomach nor the appetite to handle tough and pressure situations"; and then the killer - "You women are fit for only two things - NAGGING AND COOKING.

I know, I know, I went too far. Women respond instantly when commented upon their collective behavior than when commented on individually, while men's minds respond the reverse way. I got the reaction....and some more...

The deal was pretty simple. For however long I can go without a haircut, the female form would keep her end of the bargain. It is a given that I cannot hold on forever, keep growing my hair endlessly, before it curves, loops, twists, curls, bends and then starts extending in unanticipated directions. The only option I had was to arrive at an amicable arrangement, provided I show a little spunk that I can take the stink like a man. And so it started 11 months ago. The first few months were fun, as the rate of growth was not as pronounced, and therefore, the mop on the head would look the same at the end of the 4th month as it was around the second month. Also it was very structured and even, bending nicely to the will and the wiles of the comb. Interesting things started to happen around the 5th-6th month period. Unable to grow in a straight line, the first loop started to appear around the ear, which if not checked and pressed back behind the ear from time to time, started to fall over the ear, causing a ticklish feeling in it. So as to not be mistaken for an ear infection, the subject, if in the midst of a company, had to slowly take the extra tress of hair dangling over the ear and gracefully settle it back behind.

NOTION No. 1 QUASHED - Women do not do this to appear coy, skittish or even cute. They do it because it really annoying and irritating.

Of course, this period offers a great benefit, if one is interested in wearing caps. The image of an Imran Khan, with the cap carefully placed on the head, to indicate a dash of nonchalance and a sprinkle of carefree (careless) glamor, with most of his mane, outside his cap than inside of it, that moves, bounces, and swings with his every step, is a sight to behold. Though not to that level, the 5th-6th month period offers a shot at that kind of irreverent image. It is when loops start to give away to curls and lumps start falling over themselves, on their own weight, and layers start to build. This is the period when it is said that "your hair is really growing, don't you think it is time for a snip" (I wish I could, my friend, I sincerely do). As it started to grow more and more, so is the number of times my hand started to involuntarily move towards the hair trying to suppress it and get some semblance of order restored in that region. And the more I tried to do so, the more it became unruly and unmanageable. I started carrying around a comb in my pocket, something that I had always looked down upon, and whenever I chanced upon a reflecting surface, pat came out the comb from the pocket and restoration operations instantly resumed.

NOTION No. 2 QUASHED - Women do not look into the mirrors often to appreciate what they find in there. It is to manage the unruliness from time to time.

As more and more hair started to cascade down the neck region, so was this unfamiliar unsettling feeling that something slimy was crawling up there, causing me to jerk my head and hand to clear that region once in a while, to appear as though I was suffering from some catatonic disorder to an unwitting onlooker. In order to compensate for that feeling, I started to push my hair at regular intervals, causing it to bunch up and grow laterally, without my slightest knowledge. As the 10th month set in, the voice of reason inside me started to scream for a haircut. Hair started to directly fall over the face, sometimes poking directly in the eye, right in the middle of some serious conversation, causing me to react quite violently at the little tuft of hair, at the risk of being grossly misunderstood by the person right in front, mistaking my grimacing and other facial contortions as affront to his mere presence. Amid such inconveniences arrived the day that I started to fear the most - the shower day.

By this time, the act was no longer termed as "taking a shower"; it turned to "washing the hair". The calculations of the amount of shampoo for a unit of hair had gone completely haywire, and every time it was either too little or too much, for that perfect rinsing experience. After the arduous process of washing the hair, which sucked out most of the energy, as I had never thought raising the hands up the head for more than 5 minutes would bring out such an unbelievable pain at the shoulder-joints, came an even more painful process of drying it. And it certainly didn't help thinking about permanent health risks involved in using a blow dryer. Since the amount of hair involved warranted the use of a turkey towel, which exacerbated the problem adding its own weight in the process, the time spent drying it doubled the time spent washing it. That was only half the show. The rest of it played out in front of the mirror. Since the hair could not be allowed to completely dry down, for the fear of internal knotting, it had to continuously combed on and on, to the point that you faint of exhaustion. From start to finish, the entire process took around half an hour, and sometimes even more, with no energy left afterwards for anything but fall back (collapsing was more like it) on the bed.

NOTION No. 3 QUASHED - It is not just women who get weary after a tiring shower session. Sex is not the issue here. Size is.

10th month rolled into the 11th as the season outside changed into a nice, torrid summer. With sweat oozing out of every pore, the prickly nature of the dry weather causing to have to scratch quite often in the area what till a few months ago resembled a human head, the irritation of the sweat on the face compounded by constantly falling hair, the season of summer dawned an entirely new realization about convenience, health and humanity as a whole. A stroll through any road which had a barbershop board brought out longing looks. Screw beauty, screw glamor, screw the misconceptions about what constitutes womanhood. Long hair is just plain harassment. For all the time and energy expended on washing, drying, grooming, maintaining, and putting up with it, just because the idiot husband can look at it admiringly for a couple of seconds and go about his way, IT JUST IS NOT WORTH IT. I finally realized what the female form did. What negotiations and trade embargoes couldn't achieve, a little "tit of tat" did it many times over. So from here on, whenever I see a female form walking around with a bob-cut, or a step-cut or just plain chopped, I might not appreciate it, but I certainly understand it.

NOTION No. 4 QUASHED - Like the woman's right to choose (as in pro-life and pro-choice debate regarding woman's right either to keep her baby or get it aborted), the man has no say in how a woman wants to wear her hair.

Epilogue: On one of the following days, I made an appointment for two at the neighborhood hair stylist for the weekend - one regular, and one bald.

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