As I was tying my first pony tail in 10 months last Friday morning, I started thinking in retrospect. I realized that the day I went bald, I did not lose my hair or identity, I created an opportunity to learn about this world a little more. Learning that will last a lifetime.
It began 5 years ago. I was living in Australia then. Life was not going the way I would like it to and everything was beyond hopeless. Somewhere in the dilemma of the purpose of my life, I wanted to shave my head. I wanted attention. Not because I wanted to feel important but because I wanted to communicate. I was suffering from lack of human interaction. I just wanted to share, convey and exchange. I thought the best way to get someone to talk to you is to make them notice you in the first place. At that time, one of the methods was to do something strange or shocking. Going bald seemed easy. But then I saw some girls with their heads shaven. I realized that my idea may not work. Worse, I though I might suffer some repulsion. Eventually, I found other channels to connect with people around me.
If I had shaved my head then, I would have never learnt what I discovered in the last year.
The thought of going bald kept knocking my head. In 2010, I just wanted to do it. I felt that not everything in life needed an objective. Somethings one should just do. And anything new is always refreshing, if you welcome the experience with arms wide open. Conversations with my partner made me wait. I decided to wait till we are done with the wedding ceremonies or else the priest might have gotten confused between the bride and the groom (my male counterpart has long hair).
15th Sep’11 is the date that I had chosen. Post all the wedding ceremonies, I thought it will be fine to just do it and travel. But then, my sister-in-law’s wedding date was announced. I had to wait till the 30th of October. We dropped my mother at the airport and headed straight to a saloon – Lakme Studio.
Conversation summary before the chopshop started working :
Me : I want to get my head shaved.
Receptionist : Oh, please wait.
Hair Stylist 1 (2 mins later) : Yes ma’m, what services would you like?
Me : I need my head shaved.
HS1 : Oh, really? Please wait. (disappears)
HS2 : Yes Ma’m, I heard that you want your head shaved?
Me : Yes please.
HS2 : Like, completely shaved?
Me : Yes?
HS2 : Oh, that’s challenging (disappears).
HS3 : Ma’m, is it true…
Me : Yes please!
HS3 : You are the first female client in my career who has asked for this.
I finally get to sit in front of the mirror and the real discussions begin. It took few minutes, an electronic shaver and 850 bucks to lose every hair strand on my head. Post the savage, the staff gets pictures clicked with me! One of them even thinks that my partner and I have a music-band.
We get out of the saloon and I could already feel the cold. My partner looks at me “Not bad at all!”
The real experience begins.
I call my mother and tell her. She snaps “Girls put flowers in their hair after marriage, and you got your head shaved? Do not talk to me!”. She bangs the phone on my face. I didn’t expect anything different but I wanted her to know. We mail a picture to my sister and she shows it to my dad. My dad reacts in the most surprising way “Come here (to my mother). She actually looks pretty.” My brother-in-law sees me and feels a bit uncomfortable at first. After 2 hrs of being around me, he finally says “I was taken aback at first. I think I like it now.” I informed my close-friend-circle and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of compliments on “my guts” and even more amused by the attention-drawing capacity of my new look.
I had this sense of rejuvenation which felt silly yet good. However, I took some people’s advice and kept it away from my extended family members, especially the conservative ones. This does not include my partner’s family. During the course of few weeks, some picture by somebody on social media made the news spread in light-speed. I tasted the bitterness of judgement. I was called a rebel, naive and someone who does not care about other people’s opinions. Best, I got to know that it had been concluded that what I had done would weaken the family support that I had. During the course of next few months, I went through a lot of discomfort and painful contemplation.
My thoughts took me to the blueprint of the family structure in our society. I realized that the family foundation is so shallow that beyond your parents and kids, the idea of love is just an idea. The honesty of relationships is not based on compassion. Heck, the honesty does not exist at all. The family network is superficially drawn on theories of reputation, success, profession, decency and respect for elders. What’s even worse is that your image is formed without even interacting with you. People are scared of others being different, even if it’s a family member whom you are supposed to be affectionate towards.
There was one question that was monstrously dancing in my head “I shaved MY head. How does it matter to anyone?” For once, I felt like I had beheaded someone else.
I lead an honest life that makes me a victim of my strong emotions. Every brilliant idea that i have is also fueled by my sensitivities towards this world. It’s all there in what I feel. And I feel sad when I talk about my unclean shaven experience.
However, everything was not bad.
For your reference, the following are the advantages of doing something as drastic and superficial as a bald-look.
- You will be taken a little more seriously as a creative professional.
- Save 10 minutes every morning while rushing to work.
- You will learn that personality does not reside in your hair, eyes or color.
- You will always have something to talk about.
- You will manage to deal with boredom, at least for a while.
- While you will face extreme criticism and judgement, you will mostly figure out the ones who truly love you
I should elaborate on the last point. While most people of the last generation did not like the look, some of my family members did not let that effect their deep-rooted feelings for me. These were the people who took the effort to ask and understand me, and not pass a flying judgement.
So, yes. Good times always have some bad moments to stop you from taking your life for granted. Living bald actually made me wiser as a person. While I don’t care about my looks, I don’t care about how others look either. At least, not on the surface. I have learnt to see through the barriers of an image through self-experience. I have also understood the ability of others to break that barrier. As of today, I wish to be surrounded by those who can break that barrier.
I love. I don’t look.
I look. I don’t judge.
I judge. I don’t conclude.
I conclude, to love you still.