Tuesday, May 8, 2007

About the Hair

I guess I should explain about the name of this blog.

My hair has been the issue of great controversy since before I was born. When my very young mother found out she was pregnant, she prayed for a little girl. Implicit in that prayer, was the desire to 'decorate and play with my hair', but she didn't specify that and as a result, God gave her a little girl unlike any other Iranian girl she had ever seen before: practically bald with a layer of soft, blond hair.

If you have ever seen a child born to two Iranians, you will realize that it was an almost spiteful answer to her prayers. For months (partially due to postpartum depression, I hope, not just despair over my appearance), she cried and tried in vain to pull my non-existant strands into various ribbons and bows. This continued for a couple of years, during which time she discovered furry hats, little scarves and other such ornaments to make up for my semi-baldness. By the time I was three, she was desparate enough to try anything, including trusting me to my adolecent uncle. He, being and adolecent and a prankster of sorts at the time, took me to the barber shop where he was having his head shaved for the new school year. After demonstrating how painless the process was, he plopped me the barber's chair and instructed the man to shave my head. I was apparently fine with this--until we got home.

As we walked in, I saw my grandfather sitting in front of his mirror, carefully combing his thick, white mane. I touched my shaved head and teared up. Then I wailed uncontrollably, declaring "I wanted HAIR!" I wanted to comb my hair the way my Baba did. Thankfully, someone thought of getting me ice cream. But the damage was done: for the rest of my life I would be self-conscience about my hair.

My hair eventually grew out to reveal my true heritage. My mom took control and became my personal stylist no matter how bad life got and I never touched my hair until I was 18 years old. During those years she, cut, braided, straightened, curled, styled and otherwise worked on my hair. Most of the time, she would spend hours straightening it and making sure every strand was in place.

Then, in 1991 I moved away from home, away from my mother for the first time. I returned to the US with my father, landing in Chicago on our way to see our friends and family. The first time I washed my hair, I realized something terrible. My hair was undeniably curly, and not as a result of anything that I had done. I had no way of making myself presentable, as I had never combed my own hair; I didn't even know that the humidity was amplifying my problem. That morning, I felt I was not who I had thought myself to be all those years.

On that November morning, my personal battle began. There is nothing like a vain person losing a daily struggle with their appearance.

Years of bad hair days, assorted hair cuts, stylists and hair products later, I heard of a collection of short stories by David Foster Wallace called Girl with Curious Hair. I never read the short stories, but loved the title so much I was sure it was about a girl who suddenly found herself sitting on the edge of a bathtub in Chicago, wondering why the hell she looks like Medusa.


Manny said...

God, that was great. You should start a blog soliciting $$ for a lock of your "curious" hair...you'd probably rake in the dough. Keep up the good work, yo'.

saarikaa said...

I love the title...and I can certainly relate to the hair suddenly going crazy on you when you got to Chicago!!!

TK said...

That was an awesome story. I'm glad you decided to share.