31st July 2020 | Dear Anand

31st July 2020

Dear Anand,

Today I went to get a haircut.

My new hip hairdresser who I have just started trusting with my whole head and whose now started to fully charge me for that trust, twirled around to show me her latest hairstyle. Giddy with excitement, she flashed an edgy undercut. In line with salon protocol I told her just how greaaat she looked.

Satisfied she turned to fix her tool kit while continuing to tell me “I asked my husband if he minded me cutting my hair and he said no you can do whatever you like….”. And while salon protocol asserts that this is where I praised her for having such a supportive partner, I didn’t say anything. She turned around and chirped so what are we having done today. Short I said. As short as you can go. She squeezed my shoulders and in line with chapter 13, whispered so braaave.

I stared back at my ‘brave’ self in the mirror. Unlike my hairdresser I didn’t need to ask anybody’s permission 3 hours ago when I had just woken up and decided that I needed to go shorter.

Though in a life past, the length of my hair was decided by the men in our house. I was taught that in the long, lustrous tresses of wives and daughters reflected a man’s pride and honour. I grew up seeing women in my family untangling, oiling, combing, tucking, weaving their own dignity and virtues into tight shiny plaits out of sight. For the first 17 years of my life I had no say on my own hair and I spent the next 17 unlearning that I didn’t.

When I looked back at the ‘brave’ face staring at me in the mirror, I couldn’t not notice the fine lines around her eyes, the greys on the sides of her temple. I saw my eyes glisten under the bright salon lights for the years blurred by. Nobody’s born brave, Anand. We learn.

But I almost gasped out loud when I saw her tap $55 for a cut & wash! That’s a straight $15 increase from my last cut 4 weeks ago. I’ve made a mental note to say something to her next time! And while I may regret contending my hairdresser’s charges sometime in the future, I’d never regret what I’ve had to pay to never ask anybody else what to do with my body.

Sending you a photo of my short hair.

Love,
Shyamni.

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