By Swati Yadav:
She looked different – my friend. I was meeting her after a long time; we hadn’t met since college. She looked younger, not that she looked old before but something was very different. Her long and wavy locks had given way to a nice short bob. One needs to have the courage to take such a decision, I definitely need a lot of courage to go ahead with something like this.
‘Wow!’ I said, noticing the new stunning hairdo. ‘You look really different. Why did you chop them off, though?’
‘I was a little annoyed with them’ she replied casually. ‘And then I had to, because of other issues like hair fall, maintaining hygiene, etc.’
‘Yeah, I understand. Sometimes you get bored and want a change.’ It was done at the right time. I pointed out as it was the beginning of a new year.
‘Yeah, but it is more than that. It is about me.’
‘Of course, it is! Your hair, your life, your decisions’ I remarked.
‘I don’t know if I get to make all the decisions about my life. But I can definitely make the one about my hair. So, I cut them because I needed to feel that I am in control of my life.’
A little-taken aback by her reaction, I asked, ‘But what do you need to control? You have a well-paid job. Sometimes, you get to travel too, which is something you wanted. The office is not too far from your residence, so, you don’t have to spend a lot of time in commuting. You are staying comfortably with your family. They don’t pressurise you about anything. Why do you feel anything is out of control?’
‘Only if it were that simple. I don’t see myself doing this job for the rest of my life. I still have to figure out what I want to do in life. My parents, on the other hand, think this is the perfect time to get married – I have completed my studies, have been working for quite a while now (I didn’t realise it has been three years already!), predictably, the next step has to be marriage! Otherwise, what good a reason do we give to the people (read society) for not taking this obvious step?’ she said emulating her parents’ response. ‘I am not saying that I would never marry. All I need is a little time.’
‘Why don’t you ask for some time, so that you can decide what path you would like to choose?’ I suggested.
‘Oh, this is the time that has been granted to me. One year should be enough, according to them. My parents think building or choosing a career is a continuous process that can be done anytime – before or after marriage. That is how everybody grows, according to them’ she replied. She seemed deeply upset as she continued further, ‘I fail to make them understand that it is about finding my passion – the thing that I would love to do – and not mere switches from one organisation to another.’
‘So, what are you planning to do? Do you have something in mind?’
‘There are so many things that interest me – art, travel, music, further studies and sports, but I am not sure’, she enlisted various options. ‘I don’t want to do something just for the sake of it’ she said.
‘It seems difficult, but I know you can do it. You just need to expedite the process.’
‘So is this your way of rebelling – cutting your hair?’, I asked, thinking out aloud.
‘Oh no! I didn’t do it to prove anything. I did it for myself.’
‘How? I mean, why?’ I asked, struggling to understand her.
‘It is proof, rather an assurance to myself that I am in control of my life. This is the only semblance that makes me feel that I do have some power, howsoever, little it may be,’ her face beamed with pride, confidence or joy, I still cannot name it. I could see the life not just in her bouncing hair but her persona as she walked away.
It amazed me how much this little act boosted her morale. It might be a sense of power that one feels while breaking away from the stereotypes. When something undesirable happens to us, it is this deep-seated desire – to break away – that drives us to do what we do and what we usually do not. Maybe this is what happened with my friend.