Sunday, May 16, 2010
When I first moved to Montreal, many years ago, I moved into an apartment building that boasted a very attractive rent, which the proprietors kept low by running an extremely unattractive building. As such, it was filled with students, people on social assistance, and new immigrants (and roaches, but that has nothing to do with this story).
The apartment next to my greasy studio space was occupied by a family from Bangladesh – husband, wife (pregnant) and their toddler son. We didn’t speak often – partially because of the language barrier, partially because their son fell down a flight of stairs because of my stupidity (he was fine, though I’m convinced he’s been plotting to kill me ever since) and I don’t remember their names.
However, I do remember that one day, I noticed their son had gone from being the proud owner of a luxuriant mop of jet black hair, to completely bald. I didn’t have a chance to ask them why, but I mentioned it to Amynah. She explained that it was the custom, amongst South Asians, to shave their babies’ heads, in order to promote a thicker, fuller, second growth of hair.
I pointed out that I’d never had me head shaved and that, if anything, I (and most of the hairdressers that have suffered handcramps trying to deforest my scalp) wished my hair was somewhat less thick and luxurious. “Imagine how much thicker it would be if your mother had shaved it!” she replied. To that, I had no answer.
I bring this up by way of explaining that when I married Amynah several years later, I was fully-apprised that if and when we had kids, this was going to be an argument that we were going to have, and it was going to be an argument that I was going to lose. And today, the day arrived.
Through her community’s grapevine, Amynah found Rahima, a hairdresser that was willing to shave baby heads, and we made an appointment for today at noon (after first walking in unannounced two days ago, and gaining "what? are you monsters?" looks from all the other clientele when we said what we wanted). Sana was not in the best mood, but always behaves well around strangers. We stripped her down to her diaper, and Amynah put on a hairdressing robe. And Rahima set to work.
Sana was remarkably good humoured throughout – which is to say she was upset, but not the “Help! I’m being murdered” levels of upset she can reach when we’re giving her a bath, for instance.
It helped that one of the other hairdressers was there with her husband and three year old son, who was fascinated by the process and therefore willing to distract Sana by dancing and clapping for her amusement.
In any case, in twenty minutes it was all over, and we brought home our newly glabrous baby. I think she looks like Natalie Portman in “V for Vendetta.” What do you think?