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Just a haircut

I had to shave my head in December last year as part of a ritual I couldn't and wouldn't escape. I would like to believe that I did it not for religious but sentimental reasons. Perhaps I was too timid to unshackle myself from the very flawed customs I had so vehemently deplored. Anyway, I had my first haircut after that today. As the barber's practiced fingers did their job mechanically, my mind raced back in time.
As a child, I always looked forward to my trips to the saloon. The barber would elevate me by placing a wooden plank on the arms of the chair so that I could admire my reflection. Dad's presence would be reassuring as I looked at his reflection on the mirror. What absolutely enthralled me was when the barber would use the spray bottle and phoosh-phoosh my hair! The spray would settle mostly on my hair and partly on my face. I would always look back at Dad in delight and unfailingly see him smiling back at me. He would stay there as the barber's scissors snapped through my rich crop of hair. Curiosity once got the better of me as I asked the barber to explain to me the mechanism behind the working of the spray. The barber, being only a layman, tried his best to explain, but fell well short of convincing me. Well, since I was only a child then, I guess my ignorance is also partly to blame!
When I grew older, Dad found it more pragmatic to do some marketing while I was being attended to at the saloon. I sorely missed him, especially during the phoosh-phoosh. Then came a time when I had to go through the entire ritual alone & didn't even need Dad's consent. Using my discretion wasn't nearly as much fun. Yet everytime I had a haircut, I would habitually look around to catch a glimpse of Dad. Needless to say, I couldn't.
Years have gone by. I had my first haircut in a saloon today after Dad's demise. The place is different and so is the barber. I don't need the elevating plank anymore. Yet I yearn to catch another glimpse of Dad smiling back at me thru the mirror. The phoosh-phoosh still remains... but Dad is gone.


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