What about MY hair? I decided I need someone to look beyond the split ends. And tiptoed into New Delhi’s Khan Market outlet of Habib’s. A wash, a haircut and blow dry. Six hundred bucks. The usual.
Maybe. Maybe not.
I pause as I shut the door and the hairstylists look at me.
Reclining myself, straining my neck to feel the first lukewarm drops of water on my hair and my scalp, the promise of a gentle massage. I grope about for a magazine to read. Vidya Balan looks me squarely in the eye from the cover of Hair Magazine’s January 2010 issue. I fall for her hair. Her hair wouldn’t fall for me though. Does her hair fall at all?
The towel wraps my head and scoops up my scattered thoughts in its womb. I head for the chair and look into the mirror.
A snip of the scissors as his reflection smiles at me.
“Maine aap hi se katwaya tha na last time?”
“Maine to aap ko aate hi pehchaan liya tha. Aap hi pehchaan nahi paayi.”
A smile and an ever so slight turn of my head. An apologetic nod. “I’m sorry.”
He pretends. A pout showing he’s been offended. He pretends again. This time its forgiveness.
“It’s okay. Chai? Coffee? Soft Drinks?”
A murmur of instructions reaches the inner chamber like Chinese whispers.
A flurry of colours – orange, yellow and red. Clips that control the madness all over my head.
“Aap last kab aayi thi?”
“2009. Aap hi ne kaha tha 2-3 months mein ek baar..”
“5-6 weeks bana dijiye usko. Aapke baalon mein volume hai, aapka scalp oily hai par aapke baal dry hain. And you should apply henna for 20 minutes. Throughout the length. Scalp chhodke.”
I drift off.
The red and white cover all around me to shield my body from the chopped hair is draped around me like poetry. I tuck my hands inside.
The coffee comes in with swirling smokes of white and grey emanating from a green reminiscent of Kermit, the Frog. My hair flies in thin curly wisps as the hairdryer whirs in the background. It’s a strange sleepy symphony. The Wella and Paul Mitchell’s products all around seem like resolute fortresses that would help me hide my mind and its labyrinths behind thick curls of crowning glory. I am inching towards the look. Towards the scent of a woman in love with herself.
A sudden attack. He’s back. Scoops up my hair like whipped cream and asks me jokingly, “yeh look kaisa hai?”
“I am sure there are people who would.. find it suitable.. but I..”
“Mere liye nahi hai.. doosron ke liye theek hai, hai na?”
I smiled. Almost hit him. Almost shot a sarcastic remark. Almost let a twinkle light up my eyes and shine at him.
And then my friends called on my mobile. I found myself wanting to get out of there. Putting on the mask of professionalism once again. I hurried back into my coat. Hurried with the clasp of my handbag and with the notes of hundred inside. I hurried with the receipt. Pursed my lips and organised my emotions.
And a chance look into a mirror had me face to face with his reflection again.
“Thank you”, we mimed.
I looked away. Hurriedly. Stealthily. Almost feeling guilty. Almost forgetting that my job here is done.
And so is his.