That lock of hair curls again. At least it’s my own hair; it’s stubborn, just like me. The stubbornness and defiance I had, in face of the mutated, belligerent cancer cells. It refuses to lay straight. Just like me, me… the person. The person unwilling to submit to adversity and crisis. A little curled and a little twisted. Nontraditional, open to experiment.
I never followed a straight path. There was always an element of surprise, a tangent, an opportunity, a brewing rebellion. Going against the mainstream, every time. Becoming who I am , un-intimidated by cancer or the cargo in its tow.
Like this damn lock of hair, that keeps on curling.
May be I should be thankful that it is my own hair, a product of my own hair follicles, a little kinky and angled, much like the owner of the follicles. It’s not borrowed from a widowed woman in India who went to Ganges for her pilgrimage and had her head shaved. I wonder if those hair strands carry the sorrow she felt when her head was shaved off. That’s why wigs are depressing. They give you that almost complete feeling but you know in your heart that you are faking it. Just like the man-made diamonds, the lipstick on chemo morning, the smile for the chemo nurse and the sweetness of Splenda. Fake, fake, fake.
May be she was a rebel too. May be she had cancer. I would never know. Hair filaments don’t read like memoirs. Their story is confined in their shape and length. Perhaps color at times. Post Chemo hair is resistant to color. Why should anyone be surprised by that? If the DNA mutates in a cell, why can’t the keratin be defiant too? Why should it lay straight? My body is doing its own thing, independent, like riding a motor bike on the freeway in the opposite direction without a helmet. Yes, that is what cancer is, riding a motor bike on the freeway in the opposite direction without a helmet.
Its liberating, you can feel the air, the buzz, the excitement. You see life running by you, all the other suckers, following rules, while your ride is zooming in the opposite direction. The thrill of a scary ride, with the all-inclusive sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach and the dry mouth. Yes the dry mouth and the sore mouth and all in between, the known side effects of chemotherapy , and the magic mouth rinse, much like the magic of the crazy ride. No guarantees, the thrill is the sole responsibility of the owner. The disclaimer too, you may not be yourself any more on the other side of the ride. And went to make it to the other side, with windswept daze and stunned look, fatigue is waiting for you at the gate. Tired, of everything, tired, exhausted but trying.
The freeway turns a corner, and then goes down, many exits pass by. You wonder which one would be yours. Stop curling already!
May be I should turn up the heat on this flat iron. May be that would erase the obstinacy of this lock of hair. My chemo hair. The one that curls. Bald is rebellious enough, shiny and in your face bold. Warm water feels nice trickling over it. The barrier is gone. Me and my scalp in unison. Like at birth, pure and connected and the soft spots on the head , soft with a vulnerability that aging hardens. Just like the soul hardens with cancer. It gets brittle and tough, much less flexible, willing to risk snapping in half but refusing to make adjustments to life ‘s drama anymore.
What about the braid that I mailed to “Locks of Love?” My long straight hair with my keratin ? What story is weaved in that braid? Some child, perhaps a boy with leukemia is intimate with that hair now. The hair that makes him just like his neighbor boy, well almost, he is still more pale and the drawn on eye brows by his mom don’t help. But his mom is no artist and has bushy brows that she plucked but never filled in.
He looks sick and fake. That is the great tragedy of being in chemotherapy. Sick and Fake. Sick as a dog, sick as in puking your guts out -sick but fake. Penciled eyes brows, exaggerated at time, it’s all about the right amount of pressure on the eye pencil. Days when you feel weak, the eye brows are light, some days they are dark and some days nonexistent. But always fake. You can’t draw on hair. Hair is felt not drawn. It has dimensions just like cancer. Its own mind, its own path.
Life curls too, sometimes it straight, then one fine day it curls, irreversibly curly, good but curly, my own but curly, just like this damn lock of hair.

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