On the 4th of July I was in Varanasi to attended one of my friend’s daughter’s marriage. After a good rainfall on the 3rd of July, the 4th was a sunny day. That day was very a sweltering hot day. In the afternoon there was a small ceremony and all of us ladies were gathered at her home. As you may know, Ladies who attend marriages of kids who would be my son’s age, become nostalgic. May ladies started chatting about their own marriages. What she wore? How she dealt with her nervousness? What kind of comments did she face... etc. Suddenly Joi, the younger sister of the bride, came to us and said, “Please! Can someone tie my hairs into pig tails?” We Indian girls and women tend to tie our hairs as one or two pig tails. This is an age old way to keep our hairs neat and tidy. But now, girls commonly have their hairs dressed in various fashion. Someone said, “Why do you want to tie your hairs? Because I know you spent a lot of money and time for it.” Another lady said, “Your untied and spread hairs are looking good.” Still she said with some irritation, “All is true. But the weather… The weather is extremely humid and sultry, so I can’t manage it anymore.”
I volunteered and said “Come dear I will tie your hairs.” One lady questioned me “Do you know how to make the pig tail (choty).” I replied “Yes I do.” Then I took a brush and start brushing. As I was brushing Joi’s hairs I felt nostalgic.
I was around 8 or 9 years old. In my school untied hairs were strictly not allowed. So every morning my mother used to tie my hairs neatly into two pigtails. But one day she fell ill. The Doctor came and gave us his report, “Viral fever. She needs medicine and proper rest. It will take some time for her to recover”. She was too weak to get up from her bed. My father worked hard to manage home and office. Dada (my elder brother) got ready for school by himself; but I was totally dependent on my mother, mostly for having my hairs tied up. Even though it wasn’t perfect, but somehow my father got me ready for school. On the first day I went to school with untied hairs and as per my school rules, I got my punishment for it. After I came back home, I was waiting for my father to return from work. When he returned, I burst into tears. Father calmed me down and asked me to come with him. He took me to the saloon and said to saloonkeeper, “Abdul! Cut her hairs short.” The man picked me up and put me in a chair . Then he cut my shoulder length hairs in to boy cut. I felt happy that I need not worry about tying up my hair in the morning rush.
At school my friends and class mates giggled and laughed. My teachers looked at me in weird way. I felt hurt and pathetic. After I returned home, I again waited for my father to return from work. When he returned, I again burst into tears. The next morning, my father covered my head with a scarf and as the day passed by, the girls giggled and laughed at me. That day my class teacher asked me “Is there something wrong? Why do you wear a scarf in such a hot day?” I was depressed. I could not say anything. Some girl in the class said “Miss! She has lice in her hairs so she applied medicine.” I could only shout.”NO!”. But it would have been useless. Nobody would understand that my mother was ill and my father did not know how to tie hairs.
On my way back home, one of my close friend walked back home with me. She put her hand on my shoulder in friendly manner and said, “You know! If you have some mental problem then my mother can help you. She knows of a very famous Ojha! Tell me honestly if you have any problem…
I said, “Joi! Here is your pig tail.”
She said “Thank You Mini aunty.”