Elegance… Of hair???

She was always told that she lacked elegance. She wasn’t sure what that really was. She would look at them with a million questions in her eyes.
“You do not have grace when you walk”!
“What? How do I get grace in my walk”?
She was told that she walked too fast, as if she was always in a hurry. Her sister would sit her down and braid her unkempt hair and say,
“You should walk like a princess, slowly and with measured steps. You are always hurrying like the foreign women. Look at your younger sister, she has so much more grace than you do.”
“Gaah! Blah! And nonsense to all that”, she would say and laugh.
“And that’s another thing. You shouldn’t laugh out loud. Your mouth isn’t exactly pretty you know, so you should just smile and have the people wonder at what it is you are hiding within you”!
So on and so forth!
She grew up and moved to a different town. There were boys who looked at her. And her steps were stilled. She didn’t want to hurry anymore. She always covered her mouth when she laughed, because she didn’t want the other girls and the boys to notice how ugly her mouth appeared when she laughed.
All the girls who came to the college were so sophisticated. They had short hair! She thought that the epitome of sophistication was to have bobbed hair. She would give anything to have her hair cut short. She had approached the subject once at home, and was duly reprimanded. And when she went home on a break she talked about it again. Her mother looked at her and said, “Sophisticated? Just because they have short hair that looks like a “du`m, katti loamdhri?”( fox with its tail cut), you want to imitate them? Do they know what family you belong to? They should be the ones imitating you and the way you walk and talk”!
“Whaaat? When did I change? I thought I was the one without any elegance, remember?” Her mother would just shake her head and with a flick of her hand would let her know that the conversation was over.
So much for discussion!
But one year she asked one of the juniors in her dorm, to just trim her hair. She had such a long braid, and it was always a pain washing it everyday, without the help of servants, and then drying and braiding it. All she wanted was for this girl to just remove an inch or so of the hair. She didn’t want anything drastic, because she was going home the next day for a function at home. After the hair was trimmed, she pulled her hair to the front and looked at it with disbelief. OMG! The girl had chopped off about a foot and half of her hair. While she felt excited about it, she was trembling within herself at how the family would react. She put the hair up in a fashionable chignon on top of her head and secured it with a thousand bobby pins.
After the usual greetings at home, the maid started circling her, wanting her to get started on her bath. She was ready to scrub her back and wash her hair. This was a routine. Fatima the maid always did that. After making excuses for a couple of hours, she ducked into the bathroom and washed the hair and came out with a towel wrapped around like a turban. And that was fine and she was breathing comfortably. So far so good~ until her older brother came around and yanked the towel off.  Her hair, which was long and serpentine, and thick and ebony black before, was a pitiful shoulder length now. The first sound she heard was an “aiyyoooah” from Fatima who was holding a brazier of live coals to put incense on and cover it with a basket, so the hair could be dried. Her mother forgot her elegance and couldn’t close her mouth, and her sister’s eyes were full of excitement as she hid her mouth with her hand, the brother on the other hand was clapping.
Then the sky opened up it seemed. So many questions, so many threats, and so many negative remarks! All she could do was shrug her shoulders, and tell them all that it was just hair, and it would grow back soon enough. They all sat around her as she got down on the rug and allowed Fatima to spread her hair on the basket and let the incense seep through her hair.
Such a long time ago that was. In the decades that followed, she changed. Her laughter was robbed, her gait became sedate, and when she met foreigners they told her she was an enigma! How could they know that it was not just the hair that she lost in her land, because that grew back soon enough! There was so much more that she had left behind, she remembered how she had always loved living in a different land at a different time.
The memories like sunsets, come and go. Sometimes blinding in their beauty, and other times, drab and colourless. So much for the saga of the hair!!
Zakiah Sayeed
{{ If you have read this already, I apologize in advance. I posted this on my blog of India. Thought you might enjoy it.}}

About Zakiah

I write poetry and some fiction, have a book that was published in 2012. . . Stray Thoughts/Winged Words. I have four grandchildren, ages 16 and half to almost 16 months. I love the ocean, and grew up along the Indian Ocean in South India. I am a retired physician. Don't know much else to say. Thanks for reading. That has been my profile for so many years. My daughter Saadia a great poet and story teller, has two sons; the oldest grandson is now 21 years old, doing architectural engineering at Missouri S&T in Rolla MO. His younger brother is almost 16 and taking driving lessons seriously and is in High School. The other two grandsons, children of my son Sayeed, are 9 and 5. I have recently published another book titled Gulistan, A home of Flowers. It has stories and memories of my childhood and of a distant land which I still consider as my HOME., even though I have lived here in the US for more than fifty years. Hope to see you on my blog.
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20 Responses to Elegance… Of hair???

  1. I totally enjoyed this.

  2. slmret says:

    This is beautiful, Zakiah! (your blog of India?)

    • Zakiah says:

      Thanks Janet. The people of Hyderabad, the city where I am originally from in India, have a blog called Charminar Connection. I should write about this city and its glorious past sometime. All of us have memories of this city, its people and the language and the cuisine which is unique to the city. So we all write and comment and relive our memories, and our past on these pages. I write there quite often. If I miss a week or ten days, I get mails from the moderators of this blog, asking me “What is wrong? We need something from you yesterday!” I am enjoying it quite a bit.

      • slmret says:

        How interesting! Is Charminar Connection on WP? Is it in English, or one of the Indian languages? I do love the story about your hair (I thought it might be a personal tale) It brings a memory of when I was in high school. I’d always wanted long hair, and finally had enough to make a pony tail. My dad made some very rude comments about what comes out from under ponies’ tails

  3. The dilemmas of an Indian girl , well related , zakiah

    • Zakiah says:

      Actually Michel, you know what? This is a true story and happened with me when I was in my third or fourth year of my medical school. I will never forget the experience.

  4. murisopsis says:

    Wonderful again in the telling. I can hear the exclamations and see the horrified expressions! And it is true hair will grow back and the memories recorded will be preserved!!

    • Zakiah says:

      Oh yeah! The exclamations!! “You look like a fox with its tail cut off!” Can never forget that! What a journey that was!! Being a medical student and being away from home, and from the sheltered life!!

  5. I love your stories. Do you have another blog? *gasp*

    • Zakiah says:

      I do Matt. It is a blog of my city. It is called Charminar Connection. I think I will write about it. I have explained this to Janet in the reply above. I am so glad you like my stories. Thank you darling.

  6. A heartwarming story!
    For women, hair can be symbolic of other things, even memories and the people and places that inhabit those memories.
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    • Zakiah says:

      For sure! it’s the memories that get me every time. Every single time. SO many smiles, so many tears, and such a vast ocean of longing!
      Love and hugs to you too Carolyn.

  7. r_hsw says:

    were you thinking of yourself when you wrote this? 🙂

  8. Zakiah says:

    ❤ ❤ <3. Thank you darling.

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