Too much time preparing the kids
With three young daughters Pratima 12, Chitra 10 and Vimala 6 and a son Ramesh 8 (yes, I and my husband Sriram were on a production spree – a kid once in two years) and myself a high school science teacher, required to be in our schools, 4 km away at 8 am, it was a Herculean task to prepare the kids and myself every day. Sriram had to be in his factory, 8 km away, by 7 am. No way of expecting him to help much in preparing the kids though he did his best.
Of course, we decided very early to keep son Ramesh’s hair a short crew cut till he goes to college and bald for two months during summer. On my insistence the head of each girl was tonsured in a nearby temple when she turned two.
The girls had grown their hair to their mid backs at the insistence of Sriram. I would have loved to keep them with short boy cuts. Washing, drying, combing, braiding their hair – these took time and I was getting exasperated. My suggestions to Sriram to keep their heads a short boy cut fell on deaf ears as he adored their beautiful long hairs.
Metro work makes our hairs dusty
To add to my difficulties, the Metro work started in the neighbouring road in a big way. Dust level increased and our hairs became pools of dust. The Metro work would be there for two to three years. It was almost impossible to keep the manes of the three girls and my own mid back hair free of dust. The exams of the kids and my own school work were completed by mid April. After the kids had slept off, Sriram and I were discussing things on our bed.
I: Look, I am getting exasperated with the long hairs of your daughters. Please do something about it. With so much of dust around, why do you insist on keeping their hairs long? Do you realise how little time I have in the mornings?
He: Ok, Radha. You have said this umpteen number of times. Fine. How about your own hair? See! (He ran his fingers in my open hair. On some days I unbraid my hair before preparing for the fucking.) See how dusty this also has become. By the same logic you also should cut your hair short.
I: (with slight anger) But I am a school teacher, not a kid.
He: Do you mean to say no school teacher cuts her hair?
I: Not like that. There are some. But how can we do such things in ‘our’ house – a traditional household?
He: Exactly. When so many people manage these things somehow, why do you want to cut your daughters’ hair?
I: What others do is not my business. I need some relief in the mornings. Keeping their hairs short will save me almost an hour.
He: Keeping your hair short will save you an additional half an hour.
Sriram urges Radha to have boy cut
After an intimate half an hour, he caressed my hair and said “Radha dear, I have also thought about it. I will agree to keeping the girls’ heads short haired if you agree to keep yours also short. I suggest we all go to Tirupati this weekend and shave off all our heads, including you. Once the hair grows to some extent, the girls and you can keep a nice boy cut. It will be easy and clean.”
I was shocked. “Me bald? Are you in your senses?”
He: “What is wrong with it? Remember Padmini?”
Padmini was my classmate and also one of my colleagues. She had a vow of offering her hair after her first child and she, her husband and her 10 month old daughter got tonsured in Tirupati. She looked good even when bald. It was so nice to caress her sandpapery head. And after that Tirupati gundu, at the insistence of her husband she started keeping her head a boy cut. But I had never thought that one day I also would have to consider myself in her shoes of a shaven or boy cut head. If the price I have to pay to make my three female brats short haired is that I also become short haired, well, let me go along and do as my husband says. The thought sent a smile, or rather a giggle, in me.
I: Will your mom agree for me to become a baldy?
He: I will convince her.
I: Will you like me if I become a baldy?
I: And if I become a boy cut lady?
He: Very much.
I: (with a shy smile) Okay then, if your mom agrees.
Radha agrees for Tirupati gundu
By next evening, things had got settled. My colleague and close friend Kumuda endorsed my husband’s view that I should shave my head and keep a boy cut till the Metro dust settles down. And she said that for girls it is no big deal to keep them shaven headed or boy cut headed. I contacted their school HM about this and she did not mind at all. Rather, she welcomed it saying with a giggle that if she could have her way all the boys and girls in her school would be bald almost all the time making them all cleaner.
My own HM did not mind if I appeared bald or with boy cut in the school. But the most surprising thing was that my m-i-l (my in-laws reside in another town with Sriram’s elder brother and family) happily endorsed her son’s view that till the Metro work is complete, we all should have short hair. He did not need to convince her at all. Then I broke the news to my kids. To my surprise, all the three girls welcomed the idea of a mottai for them. When they came to know that their school teacher mom also would be a baldy they jumped with joy.
Radha and family are bald
Three days later we all went to Tirupati and the four kids, Sriram and then myself were tonsured bald. The girls really enjoyed the tonsure and the bald head. Surprisingly, I also enjoyed the tonsure so much that I wondered why I missed this nice experience till now. I decided to do this tonsure thing once in a while.
The nice feeling of running my palm on my own and the girls’ sandpapery and later velvety heads was really great. We took the decision to keep the girls’ and the boy’s heads and mine also clipper bald in barber shop every Sunday till our classes started in end May. And the kids happily got their heads regularly tonsured. I attended the school with a beaming smile and a nice bald head while others – colleagues and students – giggled-o-giggled at my bald look.
Radha and daughters get boy cuts
Three months later, with about two inch hair on our heads, Sriram took all of us to the barber shop. He got Ramesh a crew cut as usual and got nice boy cuts for all the females – with electric clippers reducing the sides and back of the heads of the girls and myself to almost bald and the top being cut to just combable length. It was looking and feeling exquisite. The girls and I enjoyed the clipper cut immensely. All the girls giggled at their appearance and frequently ran their fingers on the bald back and sides to enjoy the sandpapery sensation. And Sriram was right. I saved in the mornings almost an hour. For some time every one giggled at my clipper cut style. But people got accustomed to it within a short time.
Girls refuse to grow long hair
It is five years since then. Metro work is long complete and dust level has returned to pre-Metro days. The girls have grown up enough to braid their own hairs if grown long. But having tasted blood, we have not looked back. The girls are loathe to forego the nice clipper sensation and short hair on back and sides once a month. And so am I.
For the last five years, every summer, we proceed to Tirupati to get all our heads tonsured. After that every week I get the heads of all the four kids and myself tonsured bald in the barbershop with clippers till our schools/college reopen. We all go to the schools or college with a fresh bald head on the first day each year. After hair grows we keep only barbershop boy cuts, with clippers on sides and back.
Pratima has completed her plus two and has entered Electronics Engineering. She happily attended her first day in college with a smooth pate just like the last five years. She is refusing to grow long hair. She asks ‘how can I forego the monthly clipper boy cut?’
Initially I used to be referred to as TCR madam (T C Radha – my full maiden name which I continue to keep even after marriage). Now I am referred to as BCR [‘boy cut’ Radha] madam in my school even by kids. Keeping in view their marriages, the girls may be persuaded to grow hair long after they complete their college studies. Till then this routine will continue. But I will forever keep mine a short clipper boy cut with an annual summer tonsure. And my m-i-l is okay with it while Sriram is very much happy with it.