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Radhika’s family

Radhika is a design engineer in a leading industry near Padi, Chennai.  Being resident in faraway Adyar, it is quite a job coming to work everyday and going back.  She found that taking a bus pass was the best thing to do.  She is a 32 year old mother of a 10 year old boy, Ranjan and an 8 year old girl, Pratima.  It was her fortune that her mother-in-law, Nagamani and father-in-law, Ramanan stayed with them.  Otherwise who would tend to her children?  More fortunate was that her relations with her in-laws were excellent.  Her 35 year old husband, Venkatesan works as a Central Govt. employee in the Income Tax Department.  She has a very happy relationship with her husband with full trust on both sides.  She has not hesitated to get a lift from even gent riders when the occasion has called for it.  In fact, her in-laws and hubby have encouraged her to do this rather than wait endlessly for non-available bus or autorickshaw.  Of course, they have cautioned her to be careful in choosing the rider.

Radhika’s mottai dream

Radhika is a beautiful lady with dense hair reaching only about 6 inches below her shoulders.  That is the maximum length it reaches and she has not cut it for the past 18 years.  It was when she was 14 that, to increase the length and density of her hair, her mother got her head nicely tonsured in Tirupati and for the next six months her head was closely shaved every month in the nearby barber shop.  This improved the density and quality of her hair but not length. Radhika did enjoy that period of head shaving.

Now, she is very successful in her career having got two promotions in her 11 year old job.  Being highly talkative, she can befriend almost anybody within a short time.  After she got her employment she had thought of offering hair at Tirupati but there was little opportunity for that with her marriage proposal almost being finalised.  After marriage she was scared to raise the subject before her in-laws even though she had paid three visits to Tirupati since then.  Of course, on all these occasions the menfolk and her daughter had got tonsured there.  Still, she did nurse in the corner of her heart the desire to get her head nicely shaved there.

Bald Shanti

It was an April Monday.  As she boarded the bus for work, she was surprised to see the 24 year old lady conductor of the bus wearing a scarf.  Her name was Shanti and had got this appointment about seven months ago.  This was her second route.  Radhika being a regular in the bus had easily befriended her.  In fact, once in a while Radhika visits Shanti’s house which is just half a km from her own house.  The employment meant a lot to the B.Sc. graduate Shanti what with her sick old father, mother and two studying youngsters.  Now, obviously Shanti’s head was bald and she was hiding it for the sake of work.  Radhika’s eyes glowed with pleasant surprise.  At that time there were just two other passengers and Shanti greeted Radhika with a broad smile simultaneously taking off her scarf.  Radhika caressed her smooth head saying “Nice, Shanti”.  Shanti tied the scarf back hurriedly and said “Thank you, Akka.  I did not inform you of this beforehand to make it a surprise for you.  I have completed my probation and you know how much this job means to me.  I had vowed this before I got the job.  Also, Appa is improving slightly day by day.  Yesterday, all of us including Amma and Preeti (her younger sister studying in I B.Sc.) got tonsured in Tirupati as thanksgiving to Lord Venkateswara.  Come to my house today, Akka and see my beautiful, bald sister and mother.  More at my house, Akka” and hurried off to collect money and issue tickets.

Radhika was excited at the thought of seeing and caressing young Preeti’s and her high school studying brother, Raju’s bald heads.

Ramanathan’s family mottai

As she approached her desk in the factory, she had another surprise.  Her senior, 40 year old Ramanathan was already there but minus his regular moustache and the nice, curly hair.  It was a bit difficult to recognize him at first sight.  Radhika said “Fine sir, you look really nice.  Where had you been?  Tirupati?  Palani?  Srisailam?”  Ramanathan replied “Thank you, Radhika.  I had been to Tirupati.  You see, my wife, Kusuma had this vow of hers.  So this is the result.”  “What vow, sir?”  “She had vowed, about five years ago, that after we bought our own house and cleared all the loans, she would offer hair in Tirupati as celebration.  Of course, she had sought my and my parents’ clearance.  Initially, Appa did not agree.  But Amma persuaded him saying ‘You and I could not make our own house and Kusuma wants to do it.  Let her do it.  In fact, I also would like to do it, if you would agree.’  We all had been stunned by her statement. It is three months since we occupied our new house and got it registered.  The kids (Ramanathan has two high school going 14 year old twin daughters and two sons aged 12 and 9) not only happily agreed for the tonsure but also persuaded their grand-father to join.  It was agreed that all the eight would get our heads shaved in Tirupati. And so the day before yesterday, we all got tonsured in Kalyanakatta.”  Radhika became so excited on hearing this that for a moment she was unable to breathe properly.  “Can I come today to your house and see your people?”  “Oh by all means.  I will take you to my house on my bike after work”.

Radhika had a tough time in concentrating on her job.  She telephoned home that she would be late by about three hours.  In the evening, she went to Ramanathan’s house riding pillion on his bike and saw his beautiful, bald wife Kusuma, the daughters, the sons and his parents – all nicely and proudly bald.  She caressed everybody’s head including Ramanathan’s but barring those of his parents. The twins and their mother were ecstatic about their nice, gray bald heads.  After about an hour of listening to their Kalyanakatta and other Tirupati experience, she set out to go back to Adyar by bus.  She was supposed to go to Shanti’s house, you see.

But, even after half an hour of waiting she could not get a bus to anywhere near Adyar or the bus had too much rush for her comfort.  She started waving at single riders, mostly male and some female.  While no female stopped to give her a lift, several men stopped but either their destination did not suit her or they appeared a bit too eager to have her on their pillion seat.  Probably it was the 20th bike that she waved at in half an hour.  The rider slowly stopped his Hero Honda Splendor at the left footpath.

“Yes, Madam?” he asked with due respect.  She could not see his face properly because of the helmet.

“In which direction are you going?”

“Adyar”

“I also want to go there.  Somehow I am unable to get a bus for the last one hour.  Can you drop me in Adyar? I work nearby here”.  She showed him her identity badge.

“No problem.  Please sit on the pillion seat.”

“But a request.  I would like to see your face fully and I would like you to write your name and bike no. in my diary.  Just a precaution for my husband’s sake, you see.”  She extended her small pocket diary and pen.

“I can understand.  I don’t mind at all.”

He took off his helmet, took her diary and pen to write his name and bike no.  And what a surprise for Radhika!  The young man had a very recent tonsure and he looked so good with a fully bald head.  She spontaneously blurted out with a grin “Oh! You are a mottai! How nice you look!”  If only Venkatesan got his head done like this more often, say at least once a year!  She could enjoy spending half an hour everyday stroking his nice bald head.  By now he had finished writing.  With a smile he handed back her diary and pen saying “Thanks for the compliment”.  His name was Murali.  He looked around 27 or 28.  He observed her appreciating his nice round bald head.  He smiled again and put on his helmet.  He recalled in his mind how his mother and two sisters, his elder brother’s wife and now his own wife and two of his female colleagues all had wanted him to get his head shaved at one time or another.  As a result this was his seventh tonsure in about 15 years. What is it that many females had in them to appreciate, even demand, a tonsured head on males?  “Please sit down, Madam.  Could I know your name?”  He had not paid attention to that in the id card she had shown.  “Radhika” she said, sitting a bit shyly, with both of her legs on the left side.  She always wore sari to office.

“Can you hear me?” she asked as the bike moved forward.  She could not resist her ever-wagging tongue for long.  “Sure.  Are you able to hear me?”  he asked back.  “Where did you get the mottai done?  Palani? Tirupati?”  She asked.  He said “I got it done in Tirupati yesterday.”  “Are you married?”  He had seen her mangalsutra, so he need not ask her that.  “Yes, three years ago.  I have a two year old daughter.”  “Did your wife allow you to do this?”  “She insisted that I do it.  On Friday my colleague Chitra, on learning of my impending Tirupati visit, had threatened that if I came back with hair on my head she herself would tonsure my head.  I don’t know why many women like the males in their lives bald. Well, it was for our two year old daughter’s mottai that we went to Tirupati.  After that and darshan, my wife insisted that I also do it.  When we again entered Kalyanakatta supposedly for my tonsure, she bought two tickets.  I did not understand.  She said she also would do it praying for the next child.  I was taken aback.  My parents-in-law who had come from Salem and my own parents who had come from Vellore supported her.  I could not resist all of them and so I went along with her wish.  After I and she got tonsured, we again had darshan and came back yesterday.  Our parents are back to their places.  It was in a way good that she did it.  She looks very beautiful and is so much happy about it that she has vowed to do it again along with the mottai of our next child.”

On hearing what Murali said about his wife, Radhika got so excited that it was a miracle that she did not fall off the bike.  This was too much of a coincidence for her.  Unable to control her tongue “I have this attraction for those who shave their heads especially females. I wish I could see your wife and appreciate her look!”  “Well, your house could not be too far from where I live. So, please come home, Madam.  She will very much welcome it.  Since yesterday many have appreciated her, but some do have objected.  She will be happy to have more support for her tonsure.”

Radhika would not like to lose this opportunity of caressing Murali’s and his wife’s nice heads.  It will be a bit delayed to go to Shanti’s house.  No problem.  She would be at home. “Okay, I would love to.  But does she approve of you carrying strange females on your bike?”  “Once or twice she objected.  But once she got stranded in Ayanawaram when there was a strike.  Reluctantly, she tried to get a drop on a two wheeler.  A rowdy mob passed in front of her shouting and sloganeering.  She started trembling with fear.  After some time, a kind gentleman did give her a drop till Raj Bhavan.  Since then she herself encourages these things.  She has full confidence in my behaviour.”  The two chatted on and on about many things – politics, cricket, music concerts, TV serials and so on.  Finally after an hour of life on the bike and several traffic signals, he arrived at his house.  She realised that his house was just about 5 minutes walk from Shanti’s house.

Bodi Pallavi

Inside the house she was introduced to Pallavi, his wife.  Oh! What a bald beauty she was!  Radhika spontaneously hugged her, kissed her on her cheek and head and said “You look fantastic, Pallavi”.  Though taken aback initially, Pallavi did not mind the gesture coming from an elder.  She responded in equal measure to cement a sudden friendship saying “Thank you, Akka.  A few have objected but most others have appreciated.  Now that a close neighbour like you is on my side I won’t give a damn who says what and I will enjoy this going around bare headed.”  She giggled.  Radhika caressed the head of a blushing Murali also thanking him for having given her a drop.  He said “Never mention it again.  Hereafter, you are like an elder sister for us.”   After receiving the prasadam and a cup of coffee Radhika left and walked to Shanti’s house.

There, she learnt that Shanti had already gone to her house showing her bald head gleefully and given prasadam to her mother.  She was hugged by Shanti’s bald sister Preeti.  She caressed the nice bald heads of Shanti, Preeti and Raju.  Already two days’ growth was there on their heads.  Even the two elders – Shanti’s mother and father looked nice with bald heads.

Shanti explained more about the pilgrimage.  Because of his poor health, her father and mother got tonsured in their cottage.  But her father insisted that the rest do it in Kalyanakatta only as doing it there among the general public is more auspicious.  So, the three shed their sacred hair there.  Shanti vowed to do it again three months after marriage. By the by her marriage had also been fixed to be conducted eight months hence.   The bridegroom had agreed for a very simple marriage, for her to give all her earnings to her parents till Raju became old enough to earn a decent amount of money and for her to get tonsured immediately after marriage and also once in three or four years.  Preeti vowed that she would also follow her dear sister’s footsteps – tonsure after getting employed and tonsure after marriage.

Today, after her shift was over Shanti met her reporting officer, Natarajan to give prasadam.  He was pleasantly surprised.  He told her that if she wished she could work without the scarf and he would not have any objection.  He commented “I have been telling my wife and daughter to get it done at least once. Neither listens to me.  Please come to my house tomorrow after shift hours.  At least, if they see you looking beautiful and confident with a bald head they may be convinced”.  So, from tomorrow she would go to work with the scarf in her vanity bag.  Preeti butted in with a giggle “All in my house call me ‘mottai’ and I welcome it.  Though currently all are mottais in our house, only I will be called that. Will you also call me that, please?”  Radhika replied with a giggle “Yes, mottai”.

When Radhika finally returned to her house, it was 9 o’ clock in the night.  “Why are you so late?” demanded her husband.  Radhika ignored him and from the look of her everybody realised she was excited about something and it was better to wait than press for her answer.  At the dinner sitting, her mother-in-law asked her “What is it, Radhu?  You seem to be excited about something.  By the by, your conductor friend Shanti had come.  Know what?  She has got her head tonsured in Tirupati and gave prasadam to all of us.  She said everybody in her house got tonsured.”

Radhika said “I know Amma.  I am excited about the coincidence, too much of a coincidence.  Three whole urban middle class families getting tonsured in Tirupati in the last two days! And I get to meet all of them, see all their bald heads, caress most of those heads, all in one evening.  Too much coincidence, I think.”  For the next half an hour she described the happenings of the day.

Ramanan said “Yes, it is just a coincidence.  So many people get tonsured everyday.  It was a coincidence that you met three such families.”

“No Appa, you rarely find whole of urban middle class families including young and old ladies getting tonsured.  Maybe the gents, may be an occasional female.  But whole families!  I think there is a message in this for us, me at least.”

“What are you driving at?”  asked Venkatesan.

“I also want to get fully tonsured in Tirupati” she blurted out blushing and lowering her eyes.

“Ha ha ha, Radhu you getting tonsured!  Why at all?”  exclaimed Nagamani.

“Cut it out Nagu.  What Radhu says sounds good.  Why only her?  Why not you also?  Why not the whole of our family?  I feel such a thing would be a nice change for the family” said Ramanan.

“You mean I also should do it?” implored Nagamani at her husband.

“Why not Nagu?  You will look good with it.  If you don’t, it will anyway grow back in about a year or so.  I would not come in your way if you chose to do it.”

Venkatesan started giggling imagining a bald mother.  “It would be funny to look at a bald you, Amma” he said.  Radhika joined him in giggling.  Nagamani became slightly angry at it but soon joined them in giggling.  The kids also started laughing.  The atmosphere became conducive for acceptance.  “For what reason should anyone of us get shaved?” she asked Radhika.

“No need for specific reasons.  Just the pure desire of getting tonsured in a holy place like Tirupati is sufficiently good reason.  I have wanted to do it ever since I joined work before marriage.  But I never got the guts to ask you.  Now this coincidence has filled some courage in me about it and intensified my desire to do it.  So I have raised the topic.”

“Let us do it then.  All the six of us will get shaved including dear Nagu.” ruled Ramanan firmly. “When shall we go to Tirupati then?”

“Shubhasya sheeghram.  Earlier the better.  Why not the coming Friday and Saturday?” butted Venkatesan.

“Okay, the kids have holidays anyway.  I will apply for leave on Saturday and we will leave on Friday evening itself” said Radhika.

“But we have Shalini’s wedding in first week of May.  Why not do it after that?”  asked young Ranjan.  Shalini was a cousin of Ranjan and Pratima.

“Marriages come and go.  If we tailor our life to such things we may not be able to do many things in time.  What if we receive another invitation or two before Shalini’s marriage?  We are going to offer hair to God and there is nothing wrong in appearing bald at the marriage.  Rather, some of the punya we get by becoming mottais in Tirupati will rub off on the young new couple.  Let us do it this Saturday” said Nagamani.  Suddenly her subconscious desire to get tonsured made her more eager to do it early.

Thursday morning Shanti told Radhika that on Tuesday evening she went to Natarajan’s house and met his wife, Sukanya and 18 year old daughter, Ananya.  Both were surprised to see that a young shaven headed woman could look so good.  “Yesterday Natarajan thanked me for visiting his house saying that at least Ananya got interested in doing it and she will do it at the opening of next academic year”.

Bodi Radhika

So, on that Saturday the six of Radhika’s family got clean shaved at Kalyanakatta in Tirupati.  It was a superb experience for Radhika when her locks started falling and grazing her cheeks.  Nagamani also felt elated getting tonsured.  She said that if it was known that getting a tonsure at Tirumala is such a good spiritual experience she would have done it several times by now.

After coming back Radhika made some decisions and announcements to her family.    For a few more years she and Pratima would sport short machine-cut boycuts done in a barber shop.  Everybody giggled.  One more Tirupati shave for both when Pratima crosses eleven years of age and for six months thereafter Pratima would be rendered smoothly bald every month to make her hair dense and possibly long when allowed to grow.  Some more giggle from Pratima herself. Thereafter, no haircuts for either of them till Pratima completes 10th class when both would again offer their hair at Tirupati.  Pratima reacted “Oh, fine”.  Venkatesan was elated to know that his dear wife would sport boycut for some time which he had been secretly fantasising.

A bald Radhika, without any covering on her smooth grey head, again took the same route on Monday – to Ramanathan’s place on his bike, to Pallavi’s place, of course by bus this time and to Shanti’s house saying ‘The fourth mottai family for you’.  This time it was she who distributed prasadam, showed around her bald head which was caressed by Kusuma, her twin daughters, Pallavi, Murali, Shanti, her mother, ‘mottai’ Preeti and even Raju.  In fact, Pallavi and Shanti were ecstatic in seeing their dear ‘Akka’ also go bald so happily.  With her lovely face, kumkum, nose stud, ear rings and saree her bald head gave her a very clean and decent appearance.

Most of her colleagues have lauded her courage.  Her equals started lovingly calling her ‘Bodi Radhika’. And she is happy with that epithet. That an accomplished female mechanical design engineer with traditional attire and a freshly tonsured head corrects the drawings of juniors, discusses engineering aspects with peers and superiors and gives a PPT presentation of her design to her seniors speaks volumes of her conviction that professional females getting religious tonsure and displaying it is a respectable thing to do.

Nithya’s mottai

Shalini’s wedding was just two weeks after Radhika’s family mottai.  In two weeks all had grown about 6 to 10 mm of hair.  Shalini’s mother Nithya is Radhika’s cousin and is elder to her by 13 years.

The entire family of Radhika went to Shalini’s marriage with quarter inch turfs on their heads.  Many could not recognize them.  22 year old Shalini and 44 year old Nithya were pleasantly surprised at the beautiful face of Radhika with her almost bald head, silk saree, bindi, nice jhumka and nose stud.  Shalini’s mom hugged Radhika saying ‘Radhu, how beautiful you look like this!  I also will do this after Shalu’s marriage!’ Lo and behold! A week after Shalini’s marriage, Nithya, her husband and their 20 year old son went to Tirupati and all got fully tonsured.

Bald Ananya

Early June, Shanti told Radhika that her boss Natarajan’s family also did family mottai.  His wife who was against it finally had a change of mind and joined her daughter and husband in early June in shedding the hair at Tirupati.  Shanti told that Ananya is ecstatic about being bald for the first time in her life.  She would do it again after her marriage, she has vowed.

‘Machine Cut’ Radhika

Three months later, on a Sunday, Radhika took Pratima to the nearby barbershop where she used to take Ranjan for his haircut.  The barber was astonished to see the two females with short hair.  There was the usual Sunday crowd.  Many giggled and many ogled at these two.  Radhika simply smiled back and sat down waiting their turn.

When their turn came, Radhika pushed young Pratima into the chair.  She told the barber ‘machine cut on sides and back, very short on top, like boys’.  He pumped up the chair, draped the young girl, took electric clippers with half inch attachment and ran it all over the girl’s head.  Pratima was smiling at the sensations. The three month growth of about 2 inches was reduced to half inch all over. Then the barber took out the attachment and with bare blades balded the sides and back of the girl a bit high up making a boyish crew cut.  It looked cute on the young girl who was happily all over herself with the sensational haircut she just now had.

Then to the astonishment of all, Radhika sat in the chair.  She said ‘machine on sides and back, top just sufficient for combing into a boyish crop’.  The barber draped her, combed her hair, clippered the sides and back to about an inch above the top of ears, scissored the top neatly to merge with sides and back and produced a neat clippered boy cut on Radhika.  She was ecstatic after the cut.

All at home and office appreciated her looks with a male haircut and female attire.  Her colleagues started calling her ‘Machine Cut Radhika’ or MCR for short.  Many advised her to keep the style as it looks really good on her.  She happily said ‘Thank you’ to all such people and said she would abide by their wishes.

Since then Radhika sports a monthly machine boy cut which looks very good on her.  And everybody in her office calls her MCR or MCR Madam.  She is very happy being called like that.

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