Tuesday, June 14, 2011
My mother asked me before I came home, what would I be doing with my hair. I'm somewhat accustomed to hearing this question from her. It hardly bothers me anymore. She's adjusted to the idea that I can wear it as I like in New York, and a full-scale afro does nothing to irk the public. In the conservatives of my nativity space however, it's a similar sentiment Sa'nia expressed last week when talking about her journey as Rastafarian and the worry of parents that society will push us out, because we look a certain way, or celebrate life differently from the norm.
My mother is closer to the oriental end in my family tree, her hair doesn't twist like mine, less spiral more slick. My father is African and at any opportunity would acknowledge the end of 'Spanish Blood' showing itself in his hair texture. These are the genes that groomed my hair to itself. Since my mother took her 'big chop' years long ago before I was even born, she's consistently had (along with my other aunt) the same hairdresser/s.
I grew up waiting for my mother at hair salons, getting her monthly haircut to sangeet radio and airwave bajhans. I embraced it. More than ten years later, I found myself at the salon of the same hairdresser, friend of my mother. I could understand the buzz behind the blinds, how they calculated how they were going to deal with my hair, what would be the best way to approach the goliath, how to develop a plan d'action to combat the mass. I showed up, right? She couldn't possibly tell me I was in the wrong place.
In the space of four hours, all of staff, all of clients, all of everyone there were East Indian, looking at me with a curious I forgot about until then. They were uneasy throughout the process, one kept asking whether she was pulling too hard (when she was hardly), one gave up when the comb wasn't going through and called for back up. One even had the groin to ask whether I was going to flat iron when I was finished, as though it was the only acceptable thing to do, to complete the look, I can't possibly be having my hair out the way I had it before. I remembered how I should not let all this bother me, because of who I am, because of whose child I am. But remembering doesn't soothe things over enough sometimes.