Chapter 22: The Sword and the Lotus
In my childhood I loved to have long hair..
My house and my father’s shop were together, so each time I was coming in and going out, I passed through his shop.
And the people would ask him, “Whose girl is this?”
And my father felt so embarrassed that finally he took hold of me and said, “This cannot be continued. To every customer I have to give the explanation: he is not a girl, he is my boy. But it is embarrassing. Don’t you feel embarrassed?”
I said, “It doesn’t matter. I love long hair, and if they think I am a girl, that is their problem. It doesn’t make any difference to me.”
He took out his scissors and cut my hair. I said, “You be careful, you will repent it.”
He said, “Don’t try to frighten me. That’s what you always do.”
I said, “Then you can do it, and see.”
And he had to repent it his whole life. He cut my hair and I immediately went.and just on the other side of the road were the shops of the barbers. And I loved one barber - he was an opium addict, so whenever I had time I used to sit with him. He talked about great things. Nobody was ready to listen to him, and he loved me because I listened to him. I said, “These things are great and these people are simply idiots, they don’t understand.”
He said, “You are the only man who understands me and I wait for you, because these people don’t know how to appreciate great things.”
He would recite songs when he was really deep into his intoxication, and it was a joy to listen to those songs. One line from one song, another line from another song, something from a bhajan, a religious song, something from a film.and in between he would go on composing his own ideas.
So I went to him and I said, “Today I need your help.”
He said, “Whatever it is I will do.”
I said, “You just shave my head.”
He said, “That is a really difficult thing. If your father comes to know I will be in trouble” - because in India a boy’s head is shaved only when his father dies.
But I said to him, “I have never asked anything. If you are not going to shave my head, I am not going to come again to your shop.”
He said, “No, wait, you are my only customer who appreciates me.”
He shaved my whole head, and I went back.
My father saw me coming into the shop. He said, “What has happened?”
And his customers said, “What has happened to the boy? It seems his father is dead.”