I was seated there in the familiar seat and my hair dresser Annie asked me how I was?
I smiled and told her I was fine. Having known her for the last 10 years and more, I was her vintage customer in her now uptown salon.
A young girl in her 20s let’s call her Ms. Y, comes and sits in the adjacent available chair. She has long flowing hair. As usual, I try to steal a few glances and try to asses her in my head.
Annie asks me “So what can I do for you today?”
I reply “I want it short. Take it off. I am done with hair.” She looks at me with a smile and nodding her head, probably thinking this girl never grows up. Right from childhood I have had short hair. The minute it grows till my shoulders I have to have it chopped off.
Meanwhile, Ms. Y is having a discussion with one of the attendants about the brand of color that is going to be used on her. An argument follows, where she was promised a certain brand to be used on her over the phone, but a different one is being used now.
Annie being the owner of the salon excuses herself and attends to her queries. She explains to the girl that the brand that the she wanted is detrimental and it is very strong and may affect her hair quality. Things get a bit heated when Ms. Y starts raising her voice. My Annie maintains her calm and tells her that the feedback received for that particular brand is from her customers and her own usage as well. Ms. Y finally relents and agrees to go with the brand of hair color that Annie was providing. Annie comes back to me and begins to restore my sanity.
Right then, a small girl of about 5 years walks in and takes the seat next to me. She has beautiful brown hair as well, flowing just below her waist. Her mother grabs the waiting chairs available and the young girl next to me gets prepped for her haircut which is going to take place at the same time as mine by another hair dresser.
Annie looks over and her smile widens. “Hey there Tasha, how are you?”
“I am good Annie; I want to get my hair cut” she gestures with her hands, fingers snapping like a pair of scissors. Annie smiles and tells her hairdresser to give Tasha a trim.
“Oh no, Annie I don’t want a trim!” Tasha quips,” I want you to cut my hair just enough that I can give it to my friend Kay”.
“It’s for my friend Kay.” She repeats herself because everyone has a quizzical look on their face.
“She is sick and she went to the hospital and she lost her hair. Mummy says that she can wear a wig so I thought I don’t need the excess hair, no?” Her mother was smiling, a proud smile.
“Oh Annie, please can you cut my hair and then I can donate it to Hair Aid, my uncle’s company. He said he will make a wig out of my hair for Kay.” Annie was familiar with the NGO and she did have a tie up with the company for the same.
By this time the salon was quiet except for the song playing on the recorder.
And so it begins for the three of us , the coloring for Ms. Y , the haircut for Tasha and me.
Each of us is lost in our own thoughts.
Ms. Y- is probably regretting the frivolity of the argument between Annie and her.
Tasha – is probably imagining Kay having her hair and both of them playing with their dolls once she is back from the hospital.
Me- I felt guilty about cribbing about my hair. My thoughts wandered towards Kay who was just 5 and who would have loved to flaunt even a short haircut because it meant that she was alive and improving.
Both Ms. Y and I just kept on looking at the little girl from the mirror on the wall, both of us shared silent glances. The mirror was reflecting the truth.
The sacrifice that Tasha was willing to make was small, but significant.
Sometimes life teaches you lessons from the action of other. The question is do you want to be taught?
8th March 2014.