This Diwali Cut Lose Your Demons

Some weeks ago I cut my hair really short. Well, not that short by most standards, but short enough for me to take another look at the mirror to ensure it was me that I was looking at.

My mother always had long, straight lustrous hair. She usually kept it tied up either with a handkerchief, or in a loose bun or a braid. But her tresses refused to be confined. They would often escape the clutches of the rubber-band, undaunted by her irritation. And then there were times — only on an odd Sunday when she decided to wash her hair while we were at home — she let it loose. As a child, I was enchanted by it: I loved the way it cascaded down her nape, fell over her shoulders, caressed her tiny, bare waist peeping out from her modestly tied sari.

“[W]hen I saw my hair on the floor — dry, brittle, dead and totally unlike how I remembered it to be — I was happy that it was off my back.”

It is no surprise that I grew up wanting straight, long hair of my own. Thanks to my mother’s practicality, however, I was instead sent along with my father to his hairdresser who perched me up on a wooden plank over his fancy red chair and mercilessly chopped off my curls month after month. I hated him with all my might and would cry my heart out upon returning home, but my mother could not care less. The drama carried on for years until she allowed me to let my hair grow on one condition: I would have to tend to it myself.

I was over the moon and promptly started day-dreaming of a hip hugging braid. I oiled my hair regularly and shampooed occasionally (too much shampoo, we were told, wasn’t good). As I grew older, I also started the amla-shikakai-reetha regimen, and sometimes even skipped school for these sessions. But there was one problem: my hair never grew long, or strong, or thick. The best I could manage was a soft wavy mop that reached just below my shoulders. Initially I would mope and stress about it, but eventually, with so much else to worry about, I made peace with it. But there was one thing I could never imagine doing: cutting it short.

In the last few years, however, my hair somehow stared to gain length. Perhaps it was simply the if-you-love-something-set-it-free phenomenon, perhaps something else, but I noticed my hair getting longer over a period of time, until it nearly reached my waist. Yes! The waist!

And so, for the past few years did not let anyone touch my hair. I played with it, I caressed it, I looked at the mirror repeatedly, I tied it in neat buns and pretty braids. I sometimes let it loose too, something I had never done before. In all the loving and swooning, and the happiness of fulfillment of my lifelong dream, I did not notice that the length was not adding any value to my hair. Once soft and shiny, it started getting rough, hard, and brittle. It would tangle and knot, it fell in clumps, but I kept it. Until one day I realised they those lock locks had to go: they had become far too rough and matted for me to even run a comb.

At the salon, I instructed the hairdresser to cut off whatever he thought was not good enough. I shut my eyes as he got busy with his scissor: it was not easy to see my hair go. With every snip of the scissor I heard a part of my heart break — the part that for the past 25 years had hoped that someday I would have long, straight, lustrous hair just like my mother and my aunt did. But when I saw my hair on the floor — dry, brittle, dead and totally unlike how I remembered it to be — I was happy that it was off my back.

“I had also been holding many dead dreams and dead relationships. It was perhaps time to cut them off too.”

As I headed home visibly lighter in my head, feeling like a different person altogether, I realized I had been holding on to my locks for no reason. It also occurred to me that just like my dead hair, I had also been holding many dead dreams and dead relationships. It was perhaps time to cut them off too.

The thing is that when you have dreamt of something all your life, and have visualized it in a certain manner, you tend to cling on to it. It may be a position at work, a relationship, a possession at home. It becomes impossible to let go of it even though you might very well know that all it is doing is sapping your resources — mental, physical, emotional, and sometimes financial also — but you have wanted it so desperately that you cannot imagine life without it. At such times, perhaps, all we need to do is thank our destiny for fulfilling our dreams even if for a short period. Trust me it helps snip off not only the hair but everything else that no longer adds value to your life. And what better time to snip all negativity off your life than today?

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