School was about to be dismissed for summer break in three weeks. It was a brutal summer that year in Delhi, with extreme heat and extreme humidity some days. I was desperately waiting for our holidays when I can sit with inside my room with the AC on for the entire day.
It was Saturday, so my parents were home, and my mom came inside my room and switched off the AC. She said “you shouldn’t be sitting inside the whole day wasting electricity. You need develop some tolerance for this heat. Your father and I don’t sit in the AC all day then why should you?” We got into a big fight and till dinner time my father too sided with my mom. They forbid me for using my AC.
It was really hot so I started sweating and the biggest problem in this was my long hair. My hair was straight, black and they reached till my hip. Having such dense and heavy hair with all the sweat was making it very tough for me to concentrate on anything else. A week passed by and I went to school with the same problem for the entire week.
Until, it was Saturday again……
To the Salon
My parents woke me up early and called me on the breakfast table. They noticed my problem. They said “your hair is making you miserable.” My father said “your mom and I had discussed this issue and we’ve decided that you will be getting your hair cut this summer”. I froze for a moment. My dad continued… “you’re just 15, you have your whole life to grow your hair out. As for now, a nice short haircut will be good for you. Girls your age should keep a neat and clean haircut.”
My mother added “don’t worry kiddo, you’ll love a short hairstyle. You won’t spend your time in shampooing, drying or styling your hair every single day. You won’t have to worry about the heat and the sweating. It’ll be a weight off of your head, literally”
Before I could process or say anything, I found myself in the ladies’ salon with my mother where I always got my hair trimmed.
Pooja didi, the hairdresser who usually trimmed my hair took me to the haircutting chair and started tying my hair up. She put a cape around me tightly, opened my hair and stared combing it. My hair were extremely healthy and long. They reached hip length and were very straight and smooth.
Without asking my mom, pooja started trimming 1 inch off of my long hair. She assumed that was what I was there for. I have never had any other hairstyle for as long as I can remember.
My mom interrupted her and said “pooja, she’s not here for a trim today. I want her to have a nice short haircut, it’s time to get rid of all this length.”
At this moment, it really hit me. I was trapped and caped up in the haircutting chair with my mom actually giving orders to cut my long hair short. And when I snapped out of my denial or whatever trance I was in before, I burst into tears begging my mom to not cut my hair.
I created a big scene there which my mother did not expect. To calm me down she told pooja to not cut my hair short. My mother came near the chair, she combed my hair and put her hand just above my bra strap at the back. She said “cut everything below this point off. It won’t be a short haircut but at least it’ll be manageable.” I was still crying a lot because my hip length hair were going to be chopped off to a bra strap length.
Pooja made a ponytail at that length, picked up a big scissors and without any delay started chopping off my hair. Soon my long ponytail was cut off and whatever hair were left were trimmed by her and I was free from the chair.
A week at school
When I came home with shorter hair my father was not happy. “You call this a short haircut?” he asked my mom. She replied, “I had no choice. Your daughter threw a big tantrum and created a scene. Anyways, her hair is much shorter than before, I hope she’ll focus on other things now.”
On Monday when I went to school, everyone was shocked. Earlier I used to braid my long hair and now it was just tied in a small ponytail. I didn’t tell anyone that it was a forced haircut. I was already humiliated enough. My teachers also noticed this extreme change. I got some good compliments, but mostly everyone asked “why did you cut such long beautiful hair?” It was horrible.
That night at home, I was blow drying my hair after taking a shower, when my father came in. He said “I wanted you to have a short haircut. If your mother had listened to me, you wouldn’t have had to waste all this time on your hair.”
A Phone Call
I did not know it at the time but after seeing my shorter hair, my chemistry teacher called my father. She said “sir, I am glad with your decision to cut your daughter’s hair short.” My father replied “thank you ma’am, it was getting hard for her to manage long hair.” My teacher said “although, I think you should’ve cut it even shorter. Short hair is always easier and cleaner. However, I called you to suggest that you maintain a short haircut for her. Try to keep check that her hair doesn’t grow that long again. ‘My father said “I will take care of that ma’am” and the phone call ended.
To the Barbershop
My father woke me up the next morning and said “get up and get ready fast! We’re going to the barbershop. It’s haircut day!”
I was so sleepy and confused, so I woke up and got ready as my father was really in a rush. I went to my father and said “I just cut my hair last week, how can it be haircut day again?”. He replied “your mother failed the task of giving you a nice short haircut and honestly, it has now make me angry. I hate that even after losing your precious hair, you still spend so much time taking care of what’s left of it. Today we’re going to get it fixed”.
I looked at my mom, she smiled and said “you’re going to look so cute dear.” At that moment, I knew my fate was sealed. We went to the barbershop and it was filled with men. Everyone was staring at me as I was the only girl there.
The barber greeted us “hello sir, what can I do for you today?” My father replied “this is my daughter, I need you to cut her hair short”. The barber said “I don’t do much girls’ haircuts, but a short haircut can be done. Come sit here beta”
I sat on the barber’s chair. He pulled my hair and tucked them up. Then he put a cape on me and secured it very tightly. He took a tissue, and wrapped it around my neck. Then he opened my hair up and started combing.
The Second Haircut
“Looks like her hair has been freshly cut. She has very good hair sir.” Said the barber. Father replied, “yes she cut her hair, but we want a shorter cut. You know, something to keep her cool in the summers. Something neat, clean and easy to manage.”
The barber stopped combing and said, “sir, I am not very good at girls’ haircuts. Since you are looking for something short and easy for the summer, why don’t I give her a boycut?” Father replied, “that’s a good idea. Give her a boycut, there’ll be no distraction left after she looks like a boy.”
Immediately, the barber sectioned my crown hair and tied them up. He asked my father “sir, what length do you want keep on the sides?” Father replied, “just cut it short enough, that there is no hair covering her neck or ears.”
The barber grabbed a pair of scissors, took a big section of my hair above my left ear, kept the scissors 2 inches a way from my head, and cut my hair. After that, he kept repeating this with hair all around my head. Long strands of my hair were falling on the cape and on the ground. I started crying, watching myself in the mirror and said, “papa, why are you cutting my hair so short?” he replied, “it will be a lot easier for you, stop crying there’s nothing you can do now, it’s already short.”
A Shorter Cut
Soon enough the barber put the scissors down. My father came near me and started checking the length on the back and sides. He said, “the hair above her ear will soon grow out and cover them. I want you to make them very short, use #2 clippers above the ears and high up to the nape. I don’t want her hair to grow out very soon.”
The barber obeyed and started running clippers on my sides and back. That sensation was very weird. When he was finished, my father said, “go shorter please. I want see skin above the ears and high up on the back of her head. I don’t want to keep coming here with her to get her haircut maintained. It’s better to get it all out of the way at once.”
The barber started running the clippers with no guard on it on my head. I could see scalp; could feel the cool air of AC on my temples. It felt so humiliating.
“Yes, now it is short enough” said my father while feeling my exposed scalp. “Cut the top hair as short as possible”, he commanded. The barber opened my crown hair, made a ponytail close to my head and chopped it off without any hesitation. Then he was sprayed water till my hair were completely wet. He cut my hair shorter and shorter with scissors, until they were too short to hold with fingers.
My father was running his fingers through my hair, checking the length and he said, “just use #3 clippers on top as well. The there will be nothing left to comb.”
At this point, I actually screamed and said, “stop it papa! This is enough! You’ve already made my hair super short. I am literally bald from the ear up and the nap up. Here I am, looking like a boy, with almost no hair on the top of my head, and you still want the barber to cut it short? What have I even done to deserve this?”
My father got very angry with my tone and said, “this haircut is for your own good. All those hours spend on taking care of long hair will be saved. now shut up and get your hair cut shorter.”
The barber started running clippers on the top of my head and he was creating a fade. I could see the scalp from under my extremely short hair. Then the barber said, “I’ll clean you up now.” He applied shaving cream on my sides and back, and started shaving them smooth with a straight razor. He continued, “I want you to stay really still now. Your new haircut looks good. Don’t worry, it’ll grow back. At your age, short hair is best for you.” My father added, “you don’t even need a comb now.” And started laughing.
I left the barbershop with my hair clipped close to my scalp, my sides and back shaved completely smooth, looking almost like a bald person. On the way back home, father said, “you’ll get used to his haircut. You will have get used to it.” He added, “we will be coming here every month, or even every 2 weeks if required.”
I asked him, “so you won’t let me grow my hair out?” he replied, “no dear, you will keep a boycut for the rest of your school, and college. I will not even let your length touch your chin. Maybe not a shaved boycut every time, but it can’t grow out.” He said, “I will keep check that you don’t put any time in maintaining your hair. Even after college, you will regularly get neat, clean and short crewcuts or boycuts. You can only grow your hair out when you marry someone someday.”
When I went to school, everyone was shocked. All my teachers said,”maintain this haircut till 12th. you will study well.”