Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fringe Benefits

Of all my many physical excesses (and there are many excesses in the physique, I assure you) it is the cranial furr that has caused most familial strife. Coming from a stock of Class A (or should I say Class ‘Yay’) Mallus, as the female offspring, it is imperative that I follow the edict of hair-iditary long-locks. Rapunzel was the ideal to strive for. The fact that I am more on the lines of Rumplestiltskin did nothing to sway the family's convictions. Any petition for a haircut was faced with fierce opposition on the likes of an Indian parliament session, and just about as many stipulations as a government form. And, hot-blooded Mallu that I am, I endeavoured to make sure that these stipulations were almost always broken (yes, yes-Don’t ask me, I don’t understand why they haven’t disowned me either)Living in Chennai, and later in Hyderabad has convinced me that the less hair you have the less hair you’ll lose. And while long and floating is all well and good, long and bushy is definitely not. I have it from reliable sources that looking like a walking hedgerow is entirely unbecoming. And besides, where’s the fun in long hair. There isn’t really much you can do with it except may be tie it up. And since my hair takes after me, it’ll probably escape its bonds and become a nuisance anyway. It’s not like my family has anything against barbers. The concept of a ‘haircut’ itself was a family mandate. It was the amount of hair cut that raised questions and voices. But truly, I ask you gentle reader, what’s the use of getting a haircut if there is nothing to show for it? And I am not planning to pay good money for a wimpy snipper-snapper here and there. But all these perfectly sane arguments went unheard. And every homecoming was unfailingly inaugurated with a hair-raising ‘YOU CUT YOUR HAIR AGAIN?!”It was time for compromise. I needed hair-citement and they needed length. And that is when I came upon a brilliant plan.

The apple fell while I was trapped at the hairstylists’ getting a trim. There I was, draped in the dreadfully shapeless cape thingamajig (I think all barbers are supplied enmasse with Jayalalita’s cast-offs) lulled to half-sleep by the snipetty-snap of the flying scissors, when I noticed my forehead emerge like a humpback whale out of the waves of my hair. ‘Was it always so prominent?’ I wondered. A need to mask the size of the gargantuan appendage gripped my meagre but fastidious vanity. Meanwhile the hair lady had finished the miniscule trim job and was proceeding with the brush-and-fluff routine, signalling the impending end of the session. Must do something, must do something, must do something, must do- Aha! A few minutes later I sashayed out of the salon sporting a swath of hair veiling my forehead. The fringe was an instant hit with the peers and a dramatic change from my usual sedentary hair-style. Plus, the length had been retained so the Family couldn’t fault it. Brimming with fashionable confidence I alighted from the aircraft and marched smartly to my waiting parents and brother who were, I realised with assurance overflowing, staring in wonder. Filled with a sense of job-well-done-ness, I waited smugly for them to take back the usual greeting. And the first thing they said was “PLEASE GET A HAIRCUT!”

The fringe did not go down well with them. And the fact that it refused to stay down due to the burgeoning humidity and consequent frizz further aggravated their hurt aesthetic sensibilities. I realised they truly detested it when my brother, the greatest champion for hair-growth, as we have discussed earlier, offered to personally escort me to the nearest haircutting salon and see to it that the thing got shorn off. And that’s when it hit me- the best way to get haircut sanctions was to figure which style will annoy them most! And now I wait for my hair to grow out so I can try out irregular swaths or may be streak it blue or some similar hairscapade. The fringe became a learning experience in negotiation: The best way to compromise is to present a worse scenario. If you think about it, that’s how unfinished work gets completed; whenever we are faced with something we don’t want to do, we automatically find other things that must be done or should have been done earlier. The logic is slightly hairbrained, but so are humans, eh? So let’s not split-hairs and focus on the fringe benefits of dysfunctionality. Or so I tell my maligned Family who regularly tear their hair in frustration at my insanities. All I can say to them is, I might give you gray hairs but I do love you. 