A soldier turning hair-stylist

My hair-stylist this time was a veteran soldier who had just returned from the war in Afghanistan. It was his fourth month at the hair-styling school and he was learning his skill with volunteer-customers like me who went there for low-cost haircuts. Learning that I was an Indian he said, “I was near there man”, and he told me about his experiences in Afghanistan as he washed my hair preparing it for the job. Our chat was mainly about big guns. I was in the areas bordering Pakistan and we often had issues with Pakistani soldiers, he said. “Did that ever lead to trouble”, I asked. “Oh no, we had the bigger guns”, he said with confidence.

We were back in the chair and it was time to start the haircut. He took the scissor with tremendous care and started going through my hair with the intense concentration of a learner. I could see his hands trembling as he took the scissor close to my ear, conscious that he did not want to hurt my ear. And we talked about guns in the meanwhile. That moment was a beautiful narrative of human nature for me: here was a man talking with great confidence about big guns and wars but with trembling hands afraid that he may hurt my ear.

About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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