Wednesday, 28 May 2008

At the Hair Dresser’s Saloon

It was just yesterday. I was sitting on the plastic chair in front of the hair dressing saloon named ‘Ideal’ waiting for my turn. I was told, “Just five minutes” which I took to be my waiting time. But it turned out to be one hour. Well almost. In the beginning I was going through the November issue of ‘Film Fare’ given to me by one of the boys. But I got bored with all the semi clad actresses and biceps exhibiting actors with in minutes. I started observing the happenings around me - my usual and ever interesting time pass.

It was becoming dark and the street lights came to life. The road was becoming busier with home returning pedestrians, cycles, motorcycles, scooters and cars of various sizes and colours.

A young lady of around 25 was parking her (or her hubby’s) motorcycle in front of the shop with some difficulty in balancing the vehicle. She helped her young son to get down from the motorcycle. She brought him into the saloon. One of the hair-dressers took charge of the boy and placed him on a chair for a hair-cut. The lady came out, went and stood in darkness by the side of the road. She was away from those who were eying her but at the same time for her to keep a watch on her son when he would come out.

I was wondering why the lady did not sit on one of the vacant chairs kept for the customers. Why was she reluctant? Was she afraid of the crowd of young boys who were also seated there in front of the shop waiting for their favourite hair-dresser to call them? Why in our country do the ladies not feel comfortable among strangers even such harmless group of people? Cultural or social or just traditional bias? And what was the husband doing? Could he not find time to bring his loving son to the saloon himself?

The thought took me back to my younger days. It was a real pleasure to take my son for a hair-cut. He would go up to the shop but not enter. He would look at me with tearful eyes. (My children never cried aloud.) Promises of chocolates, promises of outing by me and cajoling by the shop owner would place him on the chair. With all the assurances that I was there to ‘protect’ him he would allow the hair-dresser to touch his head. Then, when done with, with all smiles he would say that he was not afraid of the hair-dresser at all. He would then remind me of my promises of chocolates.

I also remember telling my children stories which I had heard from my mother when I was a child. Or reading fairy tales from books for them. With all the happiness. I think it is one of the reasons for the successful career of my children. It was enjoyable time for me!

Some movements by my side brought me back to the present world. Then I saw this young man, around 30, entering the saloon. He peeped in, came out and sat by my side. He was well dressed and quite handsome with a pleasant face. He did not look like needing a hair-cut or a shave. I was wondering for what he had come. For a head or facial massage? But he would be too well dressed for the purpose. While I was still wondering why he was there, he got up and entered the saloon. His turn would not have come that soon and I was still waiting for my turn. Out of curiosity, I just peeped in. I saw him standing behind a chair which was already occupied – by somebody I could not see. He was suggesting something to the hair-dresser or asking something of the person who was seated on the chair. It looked he had come to take the person back home after the hair-cut.

Should be his loving young son! So, it is not that only mothers care, there are fathers too who care their children!

I was happy.

Then they came out. It was not a child that the young man was helping him out of the saloon. But his old father or may be even his grand father (because the person was looking very old and was in need of help even to walk)! He slowly walked the old man home talking to him warmly all the way.

I was even more happier.

- P.Aravind,

(This article has been published in the June 2008 issue of "Dignity Dialogue")

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