My online school had started and I was getting used to this new way of learning. Our teachers too were adapting to this virtual teaching concept. They embraced this change with an undeterred spirit and geared up for teaching us by preparing videos, presentations, and interactive quizzes. Hats off to the undaunted spirit of all our teachers!! The pandemic had changed the dynamics of the society. Our parents were managing work for/from home, our grandparents were learning to be cool by connecting to their near and dear ones virtually. Hangouts, Duos and Zoom were the new words they learnt. The kids were indoors.
Well !! all this was changing my personality too. I was becoming very lazy. My stance too had become very unenergetic and I was slowly transforming to be a laggard. So, home schooling was fun and relaxing at the ease and comforts of home. No more dapper looks, no more early morning baths and no more systematic and hectic time table of activities and studies. Life was in a “slow Mo” and I was loving it!!
It was three months since the lockdown was imposed. Very soon, the government was going to announce relaxation of some restrictions. norms. It was my hidden fear that now schools will re-open and I will have to say good bye to my beloved couch which was my best friend ever since virtual classes started. I did not want to forego this blissful life. I never felt studies would be so interesting and gaining of knowledge would be such an enriching experience (as if all these years I wasn’t learning at all😁….). Dad very skeptically looked at me and said, “Chiku, don’t be afraid -schools are not opening. And even if they re-open, the virus cannot be a threat to you. The overgrown helmet of your hair is a hygiene threat not only to you but to the other kids too. No social distancing norms or mask can prevent anyone from being infected by the minute bacteria or parasites that would have nestled in your hair for all these days.” Mom and Chinu laughed out loud. “It’s been three months since he had his last haircut. He looks like a horribly unkempt kid who is deprived of all comforts to maintain personal hygiene”, she instantaneously poured out her frustration on my beautiful locks. I scornfully replied, “Dad, mom, do you know that these bulky, black locks give me so much of confidence? They make me so cool and I feel so much like me, else during school days you used to drag me to the salon and force me to have a haircut. I am not going to have a haircut till I feel like and that’s about it.” I stormed away after thudding the dinner table, just to make it more dramatic and make my parents feel that my viewpoint also is important. Well!! lockdown had made me very arrogant and I was taking everything for granted including my parent’s temperament.
After a sweltering summer, the rains are a welcome change. But typically, in this season there were uninvited guests like the lizards and some rare species of insects that would stick on our windows that would be seen only during this time of the year. One quiet night, due to the rains the small insects were flocking on our lamp and they surely were causing a lot of nuisance. Dad was narrating Chinu a story, he was almost sleepy with cool breeze lapping and the caressing soothing moonlight. I was busy with my sketching. Suddenly, Dad sprang up and gave me a horrified look to me. He was about to whack my head!! I was shocked to see the violent outburst of my father. He yelled, “Gosh Chiku!! There is a wasp in your hair!!” Chinu sprang up in action and starting laughing loudly. Mom rushed out too. When she saw my startled look, she couldn’t resists laughing. I stood still as a statue. I was scared to move because I was feeling yucky and did not want to touch it. I shook my head frantically but it barely moved. Dad couldn’t control his laughter. “Look !! the dense forest of his hair has tempted the wasp to make its home in it.” Oh man!! The miseries of growing hair! 🐝Finally, I shook it off with my hand and it settled itself on the yellow glowing lamp. I was a topic of ridicule that night and knew this joke will spread like a wild fire in my family.
The next morning, at the breakfast table, dad politely persuaded me to have a haircut. But I refused very curtly to have one. I was believing in my rock-solid faith of growing my locks. By now, my parents were giving up on me. My mom refused to acknowledge my existence and gave me cold looks when I tried to chit-chat with her. She handed me her hairclip and said, “Wear this at least you will look neat with these fringes hanging on your brows that are making you squint.” I was upset and felt hurt, why is that nobody ever respects my opinion. That evening, we were feasting on home-made Vada-pav (a vegetarian fast- food dish made of potato dumpling placed in a bun) and I was hogging on the tasty treat after a long time. Suddenly I heard mom giggling looking at me and dad was somehow holding up his laughter. Mom very politely walked by my side and said, “Let’s click a selfie.” I was a little surprised, why was she sounding so kind and treating me like a celebrity asking for a selfie? I looked at her with my mouth full as she drew her mobile close to me. To my utter disdain and surprise, there was a huge dragonfly on my hair and it almost looked it a hairclip. I was shocked and yelled while the others were having a hearty laugh. I was getting so disturbed thinking about the cozy nest that these insects are making in my hair. I was quite that evening and my parents too felt that I was unhappy. My mom sat next to me and snuggled me in her arms and said, “It is good to do something different, normal is boring! It is also ok to be a bit happy when you see your new look but when things are overdone or when they are getting out of control, it is time you should stop at that very moment. Staying fashionable or feeling good about yourself is not at a bad idea at all. But you are not realizing that you need to maintain them, you don’t even comb them or are becoming lazy in shampooing them. Well!! I did my job to make you aware about your ignorance, rest is your decision. Go for a haircut Chiku.” She left me to think over and I was there all alone in the room for a while.
The morning madness of Monday began and it was my English class. As soon as the class began, we had our principal ma’am logging in the class. It was compulsory to keep the video on during the class. I was nervous and scared thinking of principal ma’am watching each one of us. She started speaking to each one of us asking generally about the subject and exchanged some general topics of discussion. To my utter surprise, she had dropped a message on my personal chat window. I opened the message very anxiously and almost expected what was coming next. The message read as: Chiku, I know we all are in a lockdown and we all have taken our disciplined life very casually. I would appreciate if you continue to be an obedient student of our school and maintain proper personal hygiene by having a haircut. Also, in case if you have forgotten the rules, you can refer to the school calendar, page no 5- “The rule book for students”, it will help you refresh your memory on the school rules. Please treat this as a warning and would want you to take it very seriously.
My legs started shaking and I was terribly scared to read this out to my parents. The class ended and I had no option but to apprise my parents on this. When told, my parents did not even utter a word. Their silence was speaking volumes and words of caution given by them to me- time and again had won the battle of having a haircut. I was crying over the embarrassment caused and sulking that soon I will have to cut my hair and can never grow them like this at least in the coming few years.
So, moral of the story is: Normal is boring, yes, it is! It is good to be different but do not overdo or exceed your limit. It becomes a menace. Maintain an equilibrium and be happy.
P.S. Unlock 1.0 was a welcome change and we were slowly allowed to step out but now mask was our best friend and we were getting used to talking with friends maintaining a distance. Air hugs were the in thing and this was the new way of life. Somehow, we have a long way to go to accept this.😷