“Go, get a haircut”
That was my wife ordering me. She was not happy with the look of my hair and was insisting that I have a haircut. I am not against haircuts. I usually go for one on my own accord every two months or so. But it was just about three weeks since my last cut and she was ordering another one. I did not like it.
As I said, I am not against a haircut but I do not like to go to the barber often. The barber whom I patronise has a shop in the centre of the market. When I go there I will have to first worm my way through the market by lanes, find a place free from garbage to park my scooter, carefully walk some distance avoiding stepping on heaps of cow dung deposited at strategic points, squeeze myself between a cart selling ‘limbu soda’ and another selling sugarcane juice, and enter the barber’s shop. The barber does not give prior appointments and his services are on first come first serve basis. He is almost always busy and I will have to wait for my turn. I hate to touch the old magazines leafed through by hundreds of licked fingers and can’t bear the bollywood music on the TV. Hence I avoid visiting him frequently. Some may suggest that I change my barber but it is not easy to change your barber once you get used to him. (Like your dentist for that matter - a sentiment, of which I happen to be a beneficiary)
Now the trouble is, I try to avoid frequent visits to the barber but my hair grows quite fast. “There is lot of manure in the head” is an old joke but my friends stress that it is not a joke in my case. Well whatever it is, I feel very uncomfortable with overgrown hair falling over my ears and neck. So, I requested my wife to cut it and she was aghast at the suggestion. I told her that it is the wives job in the US and she asked me to shift to US and marry a wife who is ready to cut my hair. I requested my son and he did it once. He made a big fuss over the bits of hair falling all over his clothes and small bits getting entangled with his body and pricking him throughout the day. He refused to cut it the second time saying that he is a dentist and not a barber. I reminded him that barbers were his professional ancestors but he was not prepared to appreciate the fact. I had to fend for myself.
I decided that “self help is the best help” and purchased a pair of scissors. Using them I could trim the hair on the right side of my head reasonably well, enough to ward off a visit to the barber by a week or two but the left side was tricky. I could not reach behind the ears and the back of my neck was worse. I did not give up. I persisted, tried to practice cutting with my left hand, nicked my ears, poked my neck, was frustrated and had to give up. (Have you ever tried trimming the hair behind your ears? Try it once- particularly the left side if you are a right hander. It is fun)
During my visits to the barber I had noticed that he used an electric trimmer to start with and then he continued with the scissors and comb. And he effortlessly removed tufts of hair with each swipe of the trimmer. It was so easy! During my last visit I stealthily noted down the make and the model number of his trimmer. I was overjoyed to find the trimmer available on Flipkart and ordered one. Strangely my wife who had made a lot of noise over me cutting my hair with the scissors (and bits of hair over the wash basin and the floor around it) did not make any fuss and she resigned after saying “You better close down your clinic and start a barber shop”.
During the past two weeks I had practiced running the trimmer over the easily accessible parts of my head and it was time to go further. I got an opportunity recently. We had to attend a wedding reception in the evening and three weeks after the visit to the barber my hair was just right for a trim. Soon after my morning walk - before my wife woke up - I carried the trimmer and a hand mirror to our backyard and trimmed my hair in the peaceful surroundings. No ‘give away’ bits of hair around the washbasin. I could trim not only the hair over my ears, but also the back of my head and my neck easily. I was ready for the reception.
In the afternoon, I was appreciating my work standing in front of the mirror when my wife exclaimed “What happened to your hair?”
“My hair? Nothing. What happened?”
“It looks moth eaten. Did you try to use the trimmer?”
“Me? No. You know that I am not capable of avoiding your eyes and ears.”
“But you have done something. It looks like rats have been at it.”
I told her not to imagine things and said that my hair was fine.
She held her mobile to my face. There it was. A moth eaten patch slightly above my neck on the right. Not very much visible but visible to my wife. Photographic proof and no scope for further evasion. It was a mistake buying her a smart phone. Now she has photographic evidence for everything. “See here” she holds it in front of my eyes - “You left your sandals on the door mat”, “you left the wardrobe door open”, “You did not close the jam bottle ” so on and so forth. And now, it was my hair. I told her that there is nothing wrong trying to be self reliant and mentioned that even Gandhi had tried cutting his hair himself. “Don’t dare trying everything that Gandhi did” she retorted and continued “Go, have a haircut, or else I will not be coming to that reception with you.”
I tried to tell her that nobody in the reception would be bothered about my hair but just then my phone rang. “Appa,” it was my son “Go have a hair cut”. I was surprised and uttered “Well.....” but he cut me short. “I saw the picture and I don’t want to hear anything. Go have a hair cut”. This lady had not only taken my picture but had ‘whatsapped’ it to my son and had enlisted support. It was another mistake teaching her to send the pictures of her sarees, bangles, handbags and sandals to her sister.
The last time I had heard that order was about fifty years back, in my childhood. When my mother could no more bear the look of my over grown and unkempt hair she would say “Look at you. You look like a shabby sloth bear. Go have a hair cut” and she would press a rupee coin in my hand.
The SMS from HDFC bank said “Sir, we notice from our records that you will be sixty next week. Please contact the nearest branch for changing over to a senior citizen account and getting the senior citizen benefits”.
There is a saying in Kannada which means “Second child hood starts at sixty”.
My second child hood has started with the very familiar childhood order “GO HAVE A HAIR CUT” and me obeying it.