This Cut is free

This Cut is free


Partha Desikan


I accidentally came across my short story, ‘The Sweet Bamboo’ in its first unedited form in my good friend Murali Ramaswami’s online magazine Patrika (July-August 2002, the Newsletter of the India Association of Kansas City) and then found that he had also published a small piece of mine titled, ‘This Cut is free’ in the May-June 2002 issue of the same magazine.

I have pleasure in sharing that frivolous write up with all of you Medhavis to lighten your moods a little.


He became nicely bald in the early nineties. Of the last century in the last millennium, I mean. I do not mind. He does not seem to mind, either. Except once a month, when he feels there is a little something growing around the nape of his neck, and he goes to the barber to get the situation corrected. He tells me that his barber receives him warmly and that seems to bother him somehow. It bothers him more that the barber actually goes to work on his head.


This hairdressing artist has a team of six able assistants working in his fine 'saloon' behind our apartment

building, but he prefers to attend on my man himself. This means my mate gets the best chair which is

farthest from the TV while however directly facing it. The advantage is twofold. You do not have to listen to the TV as the volume is sensibly tuned low. As you keep your eyes closed during most of the process to prevent hair getting into them and of course in spiritual enjoyment of the process, you do not get to see the TV program either. My man still gets an earful of entertaining monologue from the hairdresser himself. He says it is different every time and has never been dull. Fifteen minutes of absolutely fascinating analysis of events as they unfold around our little planet, and no repetitions, mind you! Only two months ago was it, when he was given a beautiful exposition on why the Dalai Lama's popularity with the Chinese Government should have inched up creditably because of the goings on of the Falun Gong lot?


Let me come to the point. Though my man has absolutely no idea what it is that the genius does on top of and around his head for fifteen minutes, he is usually quite aware of the end of the procedure. For this is when with loving glances, the artist brings the pair of scissors near the unexpected growth of hair on the ears of my husband, when the latter with great awareness gently wards him off with a wave of his hand! The finale is mostly the interest in ear work, though my husband has often felt him looking at his eyebrows as well. As a proud self-shaver, my partner in life has effectively avoided external assistance in non-coronary depilation so far. Imagine his embarrassment therefore when after lulling him with his predictions about what General Musharraf's TV address to his countrymen was going to be like, my husband's barber successfully started on his bushy eyebrows during his latest encounter and it was too late to stop him. Our chief came back home with a sheepish dressed-chicken look if that is possible, and we all thought he looked rather smart!  We ventured a suggestion that he should wear a high collar and button up his shirt all the way when he met his barber next to discourage forays in hitherto unexplored regions. With a shy laugh he explained that the first operation of a barber as soon as you are seated in his chair is to unbutton your shirt adequately to enable wrapping you in his towel-envelope!





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