I think the typical girly tress obsession started way back, when I was barely five. Mom braiding my then-thick hair in two neat pigtails was a school time ritual I would never compromise on, even back then. One related incident still tickles me when I think about how fussy I used to be about letting anybody else handle my hair. Mom had gone away to my granny’s place for a few months around the time of my brother’s delivery, and I could not go along because I was studying the crucial class of UKG. That meant dad was given the daunting task of looking after me and packing me off to school. Though my behaviour was angelic otherwise (by my own admission of course), I used to be extremely finicky about my hair every single morning because neither of us could do the neat mom-plait. There is this UKG class photograph of mine(remember those snaps with the class teacher in the middle?) where I am sitting grumpily looking the other way because I apparently thought my hair looked terribly messy and photo-unworthy and it was unfair that the snap session had to happen when mom was away.
Hair care by mom continued right up to the end of school days. Pressure cooker hooting away, the delicious aroma of coriander essence seeping into the just made Sambhar, frequent glances at the hall clock(which always ran 5 minutes fast as everybody knew, in effect killing the purpose), mom combing my hair neatly and drawing them up into neat healthy plaits that looked exactly the same day after day, even as I was doing some last minute cramming- is my most vivid memory of a school day morning. And oil bath it was, in the purest sense of the term, unfailingly, very Saturday – sesame oil massage followed by shikkai washing..hair truly basked in such loving care.
Then came along hostel life at college, and with it the desire to experiment. Enter step cuts and layers and multibrand shampoos and conditioners. The tresses were clearly not happy with such assault and showed their protest by falling off mercilessly. Split ends followed promptly and more trimming happened as the only solution to keep them at bay.Soon my hair was reduced to a mere fourth of what it used to be earlier. Mom balked. Things stayed that way for quite a few years with no solution in sight.
And finally relief came, from a most unexpected quarter. Pregnancy. The good natured preggo-hormones brought back the lustre and thickness again. I level-trimmed my hair one last time, checked out the market for a reliable mild daily-use shampoo and finally settled on Dove Split End Rescue shampoo. The tresses smiled in joy; the good hair days were back. Off I was to my mom’s for my own delivery, and history repeated itself. The pressure cooker, the coriander aroma, and the healthy plaits – things were the same again, sans the exam cramming, of course!
Edited to Add : This post was picked up for one of the the runner-up prizes!