I was born bald, or so my mother says. Some of the best things in life never last for long, that is perhaps why we cherish them and long for more of it. And so before my first week on planet earth came to an end i had sprouted quite a few strands of thick curly black hair. My parents were delighted, their first born was becoming a man! he would go on to conjure up hair in all variety of places, places which may never see the light of day.
And so the baby grew physically and the frequency of his tantrums increased. They remembered his first word, first burp and the first time he walked and who could forget his first hair cut! To this day i'm not sure of what pushed my 2 year old self over the edge. Was it the physical act of the hair cut itself or was it the one cutting the hair . i'm inclined to believe it was the latter.
Pappachen was a thin wiry man in his mid thirties . But his stoic countenance and the perpetual scowl he bore filled my heart with fear. Pappachen himself was semi bald and unmarried . And i suspect his lack of hair led to the lack of proposals . Whatever might be the case , pappachen had taken it upon himself to rid the world of hair, and no matter what you told him at the start, the end result would be the same, an even , military style outcrop that's barely quarter of an inch long.
When i saw him for the first time, instincts took over, i ran to the one safe place that had aided me in many a hide and seek session, under the bed. i thought the danger had passed.But a long hairy arm reached out under the bed and grabbed me (Pappachen had obviously done this before), i would have gone on to the electric chair with glee, but i was placed rather unceremoniously onto a normal chair. My mother smiled upon me, and with a calm demeanor explained that my hair was too long and would be cut. I rejoiced within, the one person i trusted most just said it was going to be alright. But my instincts said otherwise. And when Pappachen drew his unusually large scissors and a comb with pointed, sharp looking teeth i screamed, what followed was mayhem, my grandmother still relates the story to every willing listener. i'm still undecided over what made the episode memorable. Was it the powerful kick pappachen received to his mid-section or was is it the scar i proudly wear to this day on my forehead. Or maybe it was the double wage my mother had to dish out to him. Either way pappachen and i never crossed paths again.
My sense of victory was short lived however, i realised barbers are like grains of sand in a desert. they were too many to count, almost like a cult, when one falls the other takes over, each one sacrificing their life, honour and reputation to further the larger cause. Only the gods have managed to stay immune from this conspiracy. I mean, Jesus had long hair didn't he?. So did krishna, ram and shiva(if one can trust the accuracy of mythological teleserials that is). My overcoming of pappachen brought chellappan into the picture. Rumor had it that chellappen had "accidentally" cut the ear of a misbehaving lad .And as to why he was still in the profession lends further proof to my barber conspiracy theory . The brotherhood had influence that even diverted the course of justice. As you know my ears are intact, proof of the fact that chellappen prevailed and he didn't quite share pappachen's fate.
The next day my relief turned to misery as i was made fun of for being a 'mottathala' an egg head. the snide remarks and suppressed giggles from my play school mates lasted a couple of weeks. The next two weeks were somewhat peaceful, at the end of which chellappen paid another visit. Hence starting a viscous monthly cycle i still haven't grown used to!
The years passed, mottathala gave way to sunshine and many other names. my mothers advice to use the "sticks and stones can break my bones but names cannot hurt me" line only fueled the persistence of the aggressors. i changed cities, states but the brotherhood i realised was strong.Every town or village if you've noticed has a barber. The dark cloud hung over me.
And then with the onset of adulthood, i discovered ROCK music . i was hardly passionate about music what impressed me were the rock stars. Every one of them had long flowing locks. They had resisted the barber mafia , they had prevailed . I also noticed that rock stars were misfits in the society, most people looked at them with distaste and a sense of loathing . The barbers had influenced the minds of people . Changed perception itself . For a moment i contemplated joining this powerful force , almost immortal , but sense returned. I decided i would grow my hair , face the dark organisation head on.
And when my mom suggested i go get a haircut, i said NO! Her momentary shock at my rebellion was replaced by a sigh of acceptance. So i set about growing my hair . I found the new instrument called the "comb" a very useful but tiresome contraption. My arms hurt after a few strokes . combing my hair was becoming a time-consuming and pricey alternative to haircuts . I was forced to oil and shampoo my hair , and when i didnt , i had to bear 'messy hair' jokes , itching and general disgust from my female companions. Then it struck me . By not getting my hair cut i was spending enormous amounts of time taking care of my hair, shampoo's were costly so was hair gel , hair dryers cost a fortune even a bottle of oil costs more than a haircut. By snubbing the unholy barber organisation i had fallen into a greater trap set by the fiendish hair care industry!
Newton was right! Every action does really have an equal and opposite reaction! The barber system was created to counter the grave danger of haircare. how many millions are spent on hair care, moreover irreplaceable and invaluable time is spent on hair care! I realised that the forces of good and evil are always clashing continually, swirling together in the cauldron of life. It may be difficult to differentiate between good and evil but with age(as in my case) discernment increases!
And as i sit in front of the computer after another haircut, feeling miserable, foreboding the sly smiles and remarks tomorrow, my heart is at peace, a peace thats possible only when you know you did the right thing. And for once i don't mind being a cut below the rest!