The woman pushes the door open with one hand, holding her bag in the other, and enters the salon. She walks over to the reception where she's greeted cheerfully by a young girl dressed in a white shirt and black skirt. The girl says with a well-rehearsed smile, ‘How can I help you, ma’am?’
‘I have an appointment at 6:30 pm for a haircut.’ She glances at her watch. The time is 6:27 pm. She's never late for an appointment. The girl at the reception checks her system and asks the woman to wait for two minutes. The woman's usual stylist is on leave today so she has opted for another stylist. She needs the haircut today. It can't wait till tomorrow. Because she has made up her mind. The woman likes the casual and friendly ambience of the salon. The huge glass walls are covered by the trees outside. Her usual stylist has come to know her hair too well. At times, she doesn't even have to say a word and he does what she needs. She hasn't changed her hairstyle in seven years.
Today is different. She wants a change. She needs a change.
She has prepared for this moment all night. She had her coffee in the morning like a silent prayer. After reading for an hour, she watered the plants, made eggs and laid the breakfast on the table with the coffee. They ate breakfast in silence, the woman and her husband, she read her book and he flipped through the news on his tablet.
While leaving for office, he said, ‘I will be late today. How does your day look like?’
‘I have to do some shopping for my trip’.
‘I envy you. I wish I could take a sabbatical too’. He failed to hide the cheerfulness in his tone.
‘I will be done by dinner time though. So let's go out for dinner today. I will see you only after two weeks then’. He planted a kiss on her lips.
It tasted bitter.
‘Hi, ma’am’, the stylist says, ‘Please come this way’.
Seven years ago, the woman’s father tried to kill himself. After he was discharged from the hospital, she left her home. She cut her hair short for the first time in years. So short that she didn’t have any to tuck behind her ears. The world was not so round as she imagined it to be.
‘You have beautiful hair’, the stylist says.
‘So what do you have on your mind?’
‘I want them short’.
He shows her a few pictures on his phone and she picks up one.
‘Let’s go for a wash, ma’am’.
He gently massages her hair. He has soft hands. Unlike her husband’s. Her husband has firm hands with a strong grip. Does the other woman feel the same when he touches her? Does he hold the other woman the way he embraces her? Does he fuck the other woman the way he fucks her? She is surprised at her own thoughts. She chuckles at the word ‘fuck’. She likes this change. Since she found out about the other woman, she hasn’t made love to her husband. She has been fucked by him though. She has watched herself being fucked by him. This word is so detached and dirty - fuck fuck fuck.
‘Please get up, ma’am’, the stylist says.
He wraps a towel around her head and shows her the way.
Snip. The hair begins to slip down from her shoulders to the ground.
She comes home from work and is surprised to see her husband home early. He looks up from his laptop and tells her that he has to go out for dinner. She lays out his clothes while he takes a shower. A message appears on his phone. She walks out of the room and fixes a sandwich for herself. He leaves. She follows. He comes out of the building after 77 minutes. The woman thinks if she should confront him or ram her car into him. But this corner of the world is turning flat.
Her head feels light. Most of her hair is gone. Scattered on the floor around her.
Have they been acting with each other since the beginning or they didn’t realize when they turned into strangers?
Confrontation never helps. They would argue, her husband would feed her stories in the name of the truth, she would believe him because he’s nice. Without her notice, his guilt would seep into her and fill that void of lies.
She is sitting in the middle of a dark cloud. Her thick, luscious dark brown hair surrounding her on all the sides. The stylist grazes the hair on her neck with a razor.
‘Since you are born, we haven’t been happy. You are a curse’, her mother used to say when the woman was a young girl. She could never understand the reason but she felt guilty. She was impregnated with the guilt. She felt guilty for her father losing his job. She felt guilty for her being groped by her music teacher. She felt guilty for her father’s suicide attempt. She felt guilty for the world not being round.
She remembers the first time she cut her hair. She felt light and liberated. She felt free. The guilt was in her hair she thought.
Her husband wanted her to grow her hair. He loved to pull on her hair during sex. Sometimes he slept with his face buried in her locks.
Does he pull the other woman’s hair the same way? She is sure he does.
A gush of hot air makes her shut her eyes tight.
She opens her eyes and smiles at her reflection in the mirror.
‘What do you think about it, ma’am?’ the stylist says.
The woman wonders if her husband has come to this restaurant with the other woman. She waits for him at the table he has booked for them.
‘Oh’, her husband says as he pulls the chair and sits. ‘Why did you cut your hair so short?’
‘There were just too many patterns. My head was getting heavier.’
‘I don’t understand. Why didn’t you tell me about it in the morning?’
‘I didn’t feel the need to.’
‘How can you be so reckless?’
‘I am hungry.’
His attention is caught by his buzzing phone. He picks it up and reads the message. The woman sees the glimmer of a smile in his eyes. His world is round.
He keeps the phone aside and places the order. The message has his mood lifted again.
‘Is the hairlessness the part of the preparation for your trip?’
‘Yes. This is where it begins’, the woman says.
Her world is flat.