Every morning from the steps of Meer Ghat, I hear the unmistakable sound of middle-aged and elderly women getting their heads shaved. The act of shaving is silent. The sound is the barrage of instructions lobbed at their young male barbers, and their laughter. I don’t think I’ve ever heard women laugh so freely. They are all from the South—probably Karnataka. Here on pilgrimage, to give their karmic laundry to Mother Ganga.
I watch these ladies from my balcony….one waves at me to join them. The Vedas advise shaving the head at least once in a lifetime. Who am I to argue?
They seem so ready. To let it go. Beauty. Youth. Being desirable. Being desired. They do it together, like holding hands to jump….I tell Sunil about it later on the boat. “It wouldn’t shoot you,” he mumbles through a mouthful of paan. Which makes it seem all the more appealing.
I pass them in the galis filling the streets with song on their way to the Golden Temple. Their dark eyes glinting in the dung-filled light. And I laugh too….as my aging scalp itches like a sympathetic string.
Rebecca, I found this somehow moving. I see also subtle changes happening with the young, and especially old people, who do a physical ritual at our workshops…tears and sometimes laughter.
Nice to hear you, Fakir. I’m moving in that direction too. Thank you for all you do to help people to bring these changes into view, rather than just pass them off as flights of fancy.