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"Haircut; An Attempt At Something Significant" by Mugdhaa Ranade


Onomatopoeia. Except, when you are an amateur attempting to cut hair for the first time, it sounds more like:


No, wait. It's actually sss-nn-iii-p? With the question mark, yeah.


Oh, that was a bold sound. You look down. Three tufts of your wavy hair lie partly on your bare feet, and partly on the white-tiled floor you curl your toes against. Weird. For a moment, you stare at the strands and try to reach into the depths of your soul for a Murakami-esque analogy— something so profound, it'll make you cry. You blink. Wavy hair. Waves lapping at your feet? Nah.

You start snipping away confidently, but not too confidently. You don't want to maim yourself, after all. Fuck these scissors are heavy.

The final SNIP! sounds whip-crack sharp. You place the scissors on the marble countertop and flex your fingers. The red indents on your index finger and in the groove between your index and middle fingers smart. You blow on them. It obviously doesn't help. You decide to ignore the pain by taking in the carnage at your feet— well, it'd be a carnage were your hair dyed blood-red, but they're only their natural dark brown. Oh, well.

You wiggle your toes, enjoying the softness of your slain strands for a moment before taking in and letting out a breath.

You look up. At yourself. At your reflection in the mirror, that is. You can't recognize yourself. The hair on your head sticks out at odd angles, not close-cropped, but baring enough: the roundness of your cheeks, the smattering of dark pimple scar marks on your temples. You take off your glasses and place them on the countertop, then gingerly touch your hair—your fingers sense their softness differently than your toes.

You open the tap, wet your hands, hiss at the pain caused by the water hitting the now-pinkened indents on your fingers, and shut the tap. Save water, people. You pat your hair down, put your glasses back on, and then take in the tsunami-hit wreckage of your wavy hair.

The enormity of what you have done dawns upon you and you begin to panic.

How will your parents react in the morning? What if they ground you until you graduate highschool? How are you going to face everyone at school the next day? What if you become the laughing stock among students and teachers alike? How does one dispose of hair? What do the beauty parlour people do? Sweep them into the dustbin— but what if someone makes a voodoo doll using your hair? You don't believe in tona-totkas but, what if? Surely those old wives told truths before their sayings were passed down as tales? Oh God, you’re going to have a panic attack.

Fuck this, you think, focusing on breathing in and out deeply, deciding: you’ll deal with it the next morning. The bathroom floods with darkness as you switch off the light, and stagger outside, leaving your dark deed behind.

Mugdhaa Ranade wakes up everyday hoping to find dry leaves to crunch underfoot, and stray cats to pet. Her writing has appeared in Overheard Lit, 50-Word Stories, and is forthcoming in Bending Genres and Versification Zine. She can be found in person in Mumbai, India, and online on Twitter @swxchhxnd.


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