The curl of fire
Having transcended into the realm of adulthood, I find myself making narrow escapes to my childhood every now and then. My work does usher in a world of responsibilities that often tag along with financial independence, but it also leaves me ample time for rumination that I mostly try to avoid.
Last night I re-encountered a 14-year old song that I would keep listening to back when I had an outrageous mushroom cut. From turning up the volume every time it played on 107.8, to making it a part of the monthly computer usage I was allowed, there was a time I’d liken myself to Delilah, a 1000 miles afar from her lover. The distinct memory that flashes in front of my eyes vividly is of me bobbing my head to the guitar riffs, chomping on a bag of crisps, engrossed in a Judy Blume novel. I recalled a picture that my mother had clicked of me in that pose and I quickly scrolled through her Facebook that basically mirrors a documentation of my coming of age. And again, the haircut I had is what stood out.
I had a cloud for a head that may have looked like it wore me down, but on the contrary was quite light and fluffy, however, not nearly cooperative. Over a span of 5 years, I had tried a million hairdos to make the bush on my head stand out a little less. But in every class photograph, it would stick out like a sore thumb. I recall my friends comparing my hair to numerous things, mostly food items. On days when it would be extra frizzy, they’d call it cotton candy, on days they’d curl up close to my forehead, they’d call it Maggie, and on days I’d muster the courage to sport a hairband, they’d say, “Don’t you look like a girl, Dasgupta!”
But every time I’d express my disdain for my hair, my mother would offer one solution only: to grow it out. And without fail, I’d cut her right before that thought even birthed itself in her mind. It was much easier to deal with a shorter crop than to bear the brunt of nourishing a longer version of what can only be likened to a swarm of twisted wires and twigs after a storm. So, I sported the brown wilderness nestled between the air above and my scalp for as many as 12 years.
However, I began to give in to the societal notion of feminine beauty as I grew older. As I watched my peers blossoming into comely women, rolling their socks down and pulling their skirts higher, accentuating their pubescent figures, I succumbed to the uninvited pressure to fit in. Now, I have always been on the heavier side of the scales, stocky, and not immediately pleasant to one’s view. So, despite all the trouble that had waddled into my life on account of my hair, I decided to use it to my advantage at this juncture.
I began growing my hair and took an oath to never chop it again. I went to the extent of having the kinks in my hair straightened out, falling prey to a more conventional idea of feminine beauty. And I could only put up with that pretense for 2 more years till I decided to not give a hoot about my hair anymore. I haven’t been to the salon in over 3 years now.
My hair is tired and irritable all the time now. The ends are frayed with split ends and they demand immediate care, but I couldn’t care less. Although my hair has its good days, on most days it likes to be left alone in an irked bun at the peak of my head. At times it seeks some special attention which is when I treat it with a super fragrant concoction of eggs and curd. But on most occasions, it splinters off into resentful strands on my pillows, bed, bathroom floor, and hair tie. And then these stray strands come together in organized union to torment the life out of me by masking as a mock rat in my dimly-lit room at night.
This write-up may be turning out to be a desperate call for help to tame my frizzy curls, but all in all, I think I am at peace with the mess of my hair now. Every time I look into the mirror with contempt, I realize that it embodies a thicket of tales, good and bad. And memories are mostly fun to reminisce about.