It is a bright sunny April day outside. The year is 2020. I’m listening to ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles and suddenly my attention is drawn to the lines ‘you can enter any time you like, but you can never leave,’ followed by jarring strums of electric guitar. How providential, I think. These lines essentially summed up what half the world is going through during this pandemic, caged within the walls of their homes, wings clipped, unable to fly out. I play the song again.
There has been one casualty of the lockdown that we never knew before could be so challenging to recover from. One look at the men in the house and it is easy to guess. Now, with some men, long hair could be a statement of ‘high fashion’. But with most men, long hair is merely a sign of desperate plea for the barber’s attention. Courtesy of this lockdown, most men have fallen into the pit of the second category.
The funny part about hair is that it doesn’t affect the person sporting it as much it does to the person looking at it. And a point came when I just could not look at my son with the long tresses that he had come to sport without thinking, at least once, of what I would give to see it pruned. With the barber situation a bit out of my control, I decided to man the ship myself. After all, how hard could it be? I’ve seen it a hundred times in salons. All you need are a pair of scissors and a razor. And most importantly, the owner of the long locks. I have mine ready, though quite unwilling, all perched up on the bathroom jacuzzi. This is the best a new and upcoming stylist like me could come up with. I decide to figure out how to use them during the course of the haircut, but the distressed look on my son’s face made me go through my ‘virtual class’ on YouTube. Seemed simple.
There is a sense of dread in the room but all I can feel is elation. My first haircut. And if I turn out to be as good as I think I am, I may even publish my success story … starting off in a tiny room (I think I will omit the jacuzzi bit). What an inspiring rags to riches tell a tale that will be.
And so, I start. The razor barely touches the son’s hair and I know I have cut too short. It’s a point of no return. I keep on going, the prospects of my dream salon getting eclipsed by each cut strand of hair. The hesitation of my hand travels down to my boy who has now sensed something is wrong. After a couple of minutes, my ordeal, or his, is over. As expected, my son hates it but tries hard to hide his chagrin. That makes my guilt ten-fold.
The pandemic lockdown has given us moments that we would never have had otherwise. It has given us precious time together, forged new meaning within relationships and made us comfortable with the individuals we truly are behind all the grooming and the façade of beauty that we pride in. It has also compelled us to try new things. ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ is probably the most repeated phrase ever, but the essence it holds never fades.
As I’m writing this, I notice my husband walking past. Something about him seems different and in need of change. Another victim of the lockdown needs to be rescued. I don my cape and get my scissors and razor ready again.
Nupur Bhatnagar is a lawyer by training, an entrepreneur and a storyteller. She is rationalist and an art enthusiast who is fascinated by history. She loves to read and watch historical dramas — sometimes even sees herself in them. Nupur lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.