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I live in Pakistan. The summers here are very hot. In the summers usually all the girls around meaning my cousins and me too got a short summer haircut and each time from a barber. I dreaded that day for almost all the year. We would be packed into a car and taken to the barber shop by one of the servants who would also drive the car. The day I remember most was a Sunday when the barber shop is full of men. Let me add barber shops in Pakistan are only for men or little children no woman ventures near them.

Now when I some times peek into a barber shop from a passing car one can at times see a little girl around the age of ten or twelve getting a a boys hair cut. Usually a man goes with a girl to the barber shop a servant if the family is rich (mothers just do not have time to take them to salons) and if poor the girl is accompanied by a father or a brother who stands there and makes sure the girl gets the shortest hair cut of all even a head shave at times.

The barber shops here are very traditional they have huge mirrors and leather chairs. They use white sheets as capes so when a little girl is getting a haircut she is draped in it from head to toe. They pump the chair up for little girls. that day ill always remember as usual we were packed into a car and a servant of ours who was always very mean to us was sent with us. He took us to the barber shop on the main road which was full of men that day. The instructions had been given to him. Every girl was to get a very short haircut and if it wasn’t much trouble a head shave too if possible. There were three of us. Me and my cousins. The chairs were all full by the time we got inside so we had to sit and wait. Time flew!

Suddenly one of the barber was free. The first to go into the big leather chair was my cousin Sima. She was about ten years old. She wore glasses and her hair was black and till the shoulders. The servant told the barber to give her a short boys haircut the barber smiled as if he had won a trophy. He made her sit in the chair and covered her with the white sheet. I could see she didn’t like it at all. After she was fully draped in the sheet the barber started spraying her hair with water and started rubbing it making sure the hair was wet. Then he started the cut. He used scissors at first when finally her hair was above the neck he took out his hand run clippers and clippered her neck all the way till I could see the white shaved part by that time she was in tears. Then the barber started snipping in the front till her bangs were cut short. And then he finally took out a straight razor and held up her chin so that he could shave her side burns and the hair above and below the ears. That was when she started to wriggle under the cape but the ever ready servant was there to hold her down till both her side burns were shaved. She no longer looked like a girl instead she looked like a small boy. All the black hair was on the cape. When she was finally done the barber powdered her neck and she was done.

I remember she was wearing a small red frock that day and when the cape was removed and she got out of the chair she looked ugly and funny. She looked like a boy in a girls dress with a tear stained face. But it wasn’t over I was NEXT!!!!! I slowly stood up shivering. The servant lifted me up onto the chair. There I was sitting in that big chair and the barber smiling and asking the servant what was to be done to my beautiful hair that went all the way down to my waist. The barber starter laughing and then he nodded. He took the same white sheet and wrapped it around me. He pumped the chair up till every one in the shop could get a good view of what was to be done to my hair. He started spraying it with water. He told me to hold still or he would shave me bald. That scared the shit out of me so I just sat there.

The barber took out his scissors and started cutting of at my neck until I was left with a short bob. Then he sectioned my hair and started cutting at the base I could feel the cool air from the fan on my neck and I knew there was no hair on it any more. There I was sitting in that chair helpless and little while all the men in the shop were looking at me while they got their haircuts and some barbers who were free came and stood next to my chair to chat to the barber working on me. That is when I started blushing. It was embarrassing. All the black hair on the white cape and almost resembling a boy when you are a girl and desperately want to look like one. I couldn’t look at myself any more in the mirror I tried looking down but every now and then I would look at myself. He pushed my head down and started clippering my neck and above it just like my cousins. Then he combed my long bangs and cut them all of with a few snips. All the time he was talking to the other barbers saying see what I make out of this little girl!!!!!!!

He held my face took out a straight razor started shaving near my ears. He bend my right ear and shaved around it till the skin turned white. Then the he did the same to the left ear. I looked at my self the moment he was doing that I looked awful. I looked like a boy. Then he shaved my neck…….. but then one of the other barbers said it wasn’t short enough…….. So he took out his scissors again and starting cutting what was left of my hair….I could see my white scalp…….. and I could see all the men looking and laughing at me. My servant enjoyed it too. He snipped till like five more minutes. Till I almost had nothing on my head. I looked down and saw loads of hair on the floor and on the cape…….. I looked funny. Then he held my face and shaved off my side burns…. I was done. He took oil and massaged my head. My small head in his strong hands I couldn’t even move. Then he powdered my neck and I was taken off the chair.

I looked like a boy. I had big tears in my eyes. but the show wasn’t over………next was another cousin of mine whose mother had instructed to give her a complete head shave. She knew it before hand so she started struggling but the servant and one of the other barbers got hold of her and made her sit on the chair her head was first sprayed…….. Till all the hair was completely wet. Then the barber started giving her a massage to make the hair softer to shave. She was looking at herself in the mirror. All the men in the barber shop were looking at her. They held her down and the barber took out a sharp straight razor. He started scraping the hair at the fore head……. and then he slowly came down till the front of her head was shaved and her scalp was white!!!!!! She was crying and struggling to get out…but when the barber started at the back she gave up and that’s when they let her go there she was half shaved with a white scalp and being further shaved . The barber held her head down and asked her not to move. All the black hair was falling onto the cape and some still was stuck to her wet scalp. She was crying, but was looking at herself in the mirror. The other barbers gathered around her. and one of the barbers cleaned the stray hair off her scalp. Then she was finally done. All her hair was shaved and her scalp looked like an egg. The barber took out some paste put it on her scalp and lathered it. Then he took a straight razor again and shaved it close this time. But he had forgotten the side burns……….. she looked funny with all her head shaved and just the side burns there. He shaved those too… the skin on her face was darker than her scalp. She looked terribly ugly. The barber then took out oil and oiled her head till it shone. He took the cape off and there she was in a blue frock looking absurd and funny and ugly poor thing I felt sorry for her and I was happy it wasn’t me who got the head shave.

The barber rubbed her scalp…..and they all laughed……. the men had totally enjoyed what we all went through that day specially her head shave we were packed into the car again and taken home where the others had a good laugh. I laughed too at my shaved cousin….but I didn’t know I was to get the same treat
ment next summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That you’ll know about in my next story……………..

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