On Cutting Hair

In the barbershop where I used to cut my hair as a kid, there was a poster on the wall. It was a view of a hillside covered with yellow lilies. Faraway, there were few cottages. The photographer had taken the photo standing amidst those flowers. I always imagined jumping into that poster and being teleported to that exact spot. How would it feel to stand there? In the bottom right corner, this was written – “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind – Neil Armstrong”. Why was it there?

I liked the sounds of scissors, of water being sprayed, of heads getting massaged. Trimmers turned on and off with a loud click. There was the smell of talcum powder. Razor parted the white foam on people’s cheeks. Someone will enter the shop and realise there are many people waiting. They tell the barber, “I am in the queue” and go away. Barber nods and continues to cut hair.

I had to sit on a thick cushion as a kid. One fine day I was asked to sit without it. I felt like a grown-up.

If the barber wanted to cut my hair at the back of my head, he would gently nudge my head forward with his knuckles or with the tips of his fingers. If he wanted to cut my side, he would nudge the other way. In recent times that would be the only human touch I would experience for months.

Mother never allowed me to cut hair on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The other day I cut my hair on a Saturday. I could hear my grandmother yell at me in my head. I did it anyway.

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