She didn’t have a hairy head when she was born. Her parents were suitably scared. But after her first and only tonsure, her hair grew out dark and thick. Like all good mothers, hers obsessed about her hair. Her pride and joy was heavy and mostly oily. Her mother oiled it everyday. Her hair seemed to sap out all her energy at one point. It weighed her down. She never grew very tall, and she blamed it on her locks.
It was drawing out everything from her. It stopped her from playing on the street. It was a local sport – the other kids would pull her plait and pretend it was a cow’s tail. She hated her hair.
On her wedding day, her hair was dressed with flowers. Strands of jasmine on top. The hair almost stapled with a thick pad of rose and jasmine. And some shiny things. Perhaps she looked prettier from the back side. They were taking photographs. She was posing with her nine yard saree. A strange way of tying what was supposedly a graceful garment. She felt like a sumo wrestler. After making her smile with the relatives, friends and other assorted acquaintances, the photographer decided to capture the bride’s beauty. He instructed her to pose as though she was wearing her earrings. And then smearing eyeliner. Even admiring herself in the mirror.
She was smiling, radiating the joy that brides are supposed to. Then, they made her face the wall. So they could photograph her hair. She stood, five inches from the green wall of the chattram, her hair the glorious superstar. They gasped over it and the photographer kept clicking. Such long and dark hair. The local beautician couldn’t remember any other bride who hadn’t needed a souri. The bride thought she was going to find this humiliating. Having the whole world stand behind her and inspecting her. Instead, for the first time in her life, she’s grateful for her hair. You see, when she stands facing the wall, she doesn’t have to smile at anything.