The Holy Hair

In India, even the dead cells growing on a human head, possess the strength of a matador. A fraction of the male population, residing in the northern regions of the country, often rank their adversaries on their ability to bend hair. “You are not a man enough to bend my hair,” or “You can’t even pluck my pubes.” As ludicrous as it may sound, such talk constitutes a major part of everyday parlance.

Hinduism and hair, share a relationship like non other. “Today is Saturday, you can walk around looking like a Neanderthal for few hours.” or “ You spent 5000 bucks to get your hair straightened, so what! Aunt Archana died and you have to shave your head.” In an orthodox Brahmin family, getting rid of your stubble or an old-fashioned Bon Jovi hair do on a Saturday is a complete NO NO. Kids born with the DNA of docility or the ones injected with Fear Serum, follow the path of compliance. I don’t.

Let’s not get into my list of Dos and Don’ts. As I am not the central character of this story. What you’re about to read next, might raise a serious question; serious enough to pummel your logical mind. My grandma passed away recently. She was old and immobile. A day before her funeral, my dad was secretly visited by grief. The neighbors reportedly saw no one arrive or leave. Investigations conducted by the local authority (my mom) also proved inconclusive. And the case remained unsolved. However, on the D Day, an unexpected confession made by the accused, brought the truth into the limelight. He couldn’t find an uncircumcised barber. No, the all Indian Barber association didn’t call for an indefinite strike and Yes, back home in India, when someone departs, you just can’t pick up a battery operated appliance and roll it all over your scalp. You just can’t do it. You have to go and dig out a certified hindu barber.

The barber community, operating in my neighborhood is mainly comprised of Muslims. And my dad couldn’t let a Muslim bend his head, especially not in front of a mirror. His defense reeked of nonsensical reasons; vexing enough to put your head through a wall. He didn’t want to offend the spirit of his deceased mother-in- law by letting a Muslim guy defile the scrapes of religion, resting on his skull. I don’t believe in the existence of soul or the theory that makes the digestive tract of a priest a VIP pass to heaven. But I see things for what they truly are. Occasionally, the sharp end of a scissor nips your skin. You hiss in pain or hurl invectives. The person tenders an apology and cleans your wound with an antiseptic. He refuses to charge a single dime. Five minutes later you forget and forgive. But when prejudice sinks its teeth in you- you father the legacy of mauled perceptions- the scissor stabs an entire generation- a scissor which was better off without a god.


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