Kapila’s Story – 2
I came back home in about 20 minutes. Mom was talking to m-i-l. I could clearly hear their words when I was removing my sandals. I stopped there itself hearing something about mom’s head shave.
Mom was saying “…Anyway, we three got our heads shaved. I enjoyed it no doubt. I got back my mid back hair in 3 years. Now that Kapila is married, we three want to go for our next family tonsure. I am waiting to see Kapila in gundu or at least a boy cut. Subhadra, if you people desire that Kapila should be in boy cut, please go ahead. You have my and my husband’s full support for it. I could not see her in boy cut when she was a college student. I would be happy to see her in a boy cut at least now as college lecturer. When her marriage was settled with your son, I saw your daughter Radha and started dreaming about my daughter sporting a beautiful boy cut like Radha. Before she left our house, I told her that she should get a gundu or at least a boy cut like Radha at the earliest. But nothing has happened even after two months. And if you have to compel her, do so.”
Then m-i-l said “Yes, Sunanda. All the four of us – we three here and Radha – are eager to see Kapila in a nice boy cut at the earliest. We will see how we can make her accept it happily. Now that you have okayed some pressure on her, I will drag her to barbershop, forcibly seat her and hack off her braid” (and both giggled simultaneously).
I froze in horror. Whatever I had feared was happening! For a moment, I wanted to shout at my mom and m-i-l. I was furious in my mind that mom was instigating my m-i-l to pressurise me to cut my hair short. I entered in at that time.
Mom brightly said “Oh, you are back. Fine. What else? How is your college?” Clearly, she was diverting the subject. I cut her short and shouted with anger “Oh, come on, Amma. Don’t do so much drama. I know that you are telling her to get my hair cut.”
Mom said with a mock smile “Oh, is it? Yes, I was telling her that. What is wrong? And dear daughter, you will have entry to our house henceforth only if you have a boy cut or shorter than that. Got it?” She angrily looked at me. She was of the type who would implement this. I had to make peace with her and somehow avoid cutting my waist long hair.
I said “Sorry amma, I got carried away a bit. But don’t put such conditions” and teared up. She hugged me all right but said “Don’t be obstinate on such a trivial issue, dear. If your in-laws want it, better you gladly accept it. Earlier I see you in a boy cut, happier I and your dad will be. Okay?” After some more talk with my m-i-l, she went back home.
That night, on the dinner table, m-i-l raised the issue again. She said more determinedly “Well, Kapila. You know that your mom also has strongly recommended to get you a boy cut. So, we should do it at the earliest.”
F-i-l joined in, saying firmly “What is this, Kapila? You are a college lecturer and as I hear, a very popular one at that. How nice it will be if a saree clad boy cut Kapila writes on the board y=ax2+bx+c! Don’t disappoint us for long, dear. Agree happily.” Suresh added “Accept, Kapila. It will be very nice if you get a neat clipper boy cut like Radha.”
For some strange reason, my anger had dissipated when I shouted at mom earlier in the evening. I meekly said “Give me a day’s time. I will tell tomorrow evening”. I wanted to find a way to wriggle out of this haircut without losing the warmth of my in-laws. If I give in, my major concern would be how to face my colleagues and students. Next day, in college, I talked to my HOD, Nandini. She is a nice lady of 45 with mid back hair. I said “Madam, there is a lot of pressure at home to cut my hair short to a boy cut. I am afraid that if I agree, the students will cause a hullaballoo. If I don’t agree, my people will keep on nagging me on this. What shall I do?”
She appeared happily surprised and said “Oh! So nice Kapila! I will be very happy to have a young boy cut female colleague. And why only students? Even I will pull your leg a bit. But these are all in the game. Since your husband and in-laws want it, I strongly recommend that you happily agree” and giggled again looking at me.
I said with embarrassment “Madam, all other female staff come with long hair. Only I would be coming with short hair. Would it not be out of place and even embarrassing to the management?”
She said “No Kapila, when I wanted to do it some five years ago, I also had the same fear as you. But the then Principal said ‘Nandini, somebody has to start it and why not it be you? A few others who want to do it will get courage and that way you will be doing a service to the college staff.’ Unfortunately, my in-laws and husband put their foot down. So you will be the inaugural female to come with boy cut hair and you better feel proud about it.” I meekly smiled, nodded and came out.
Now I thought ‘What the heck! Let me do it. If things go all right, I will be happy. Else, I will grow it long again.’ Thus, I decided to submit to my in-laws’ desire of seeing me as a boy cut girl. What else I could do when my in-laws, husband, parents and even my HOD was rooting for it?
Back home, on the dinner table, f-i-l said “What happened Kapila? You wanted a day. What is your decision?” I shyly said, nervously looking away from him “I am agreeing, maava.” M-i-l hugged me and kissed my cheek. F-i-l patted my head affectionately. Suresh gave me a light reassuring hug with a smile and pulled my braid playfully saying “Oh dear braid, your days are numbered. So I will pull you today.” The other two giggled. M-i-l enthusiastically called my mom and Radha to tell them of my proposed boy cut.
Mom talked to me and congratulated me. “Make it a short boy cut. Save the braid, dear and drop it in Tirumala when you are there next time”. She was all over herself with happiness. A little later Radha called me and said “Congrats, Kapila and welcome to my group. Make it bald on back and sides, with clippers” and giggled. M-i-l announced that early Sunday morning, she would take me to barbershop for the haircut. I started feeling butterflies in my stomach imagining my new avatar.
On Friday, my mischievous HOD told me that she would spread the word of my impending change of appearance. And she ignored my pleadings not to. My colleagues started ragging me a bit. Students ragged me a lot. But it was good that way since the ragging after I became a shorty would be so much less, I hoped.