It is said that no act of kindness, regardless of how small it may be, goes to waste.
Earlier in 2020, following the pandemic’s onset, the inability to go back to my boarding school set in motion a series of events — some mundane while others were downright innovative. But in the summer of an extraordinary year, called ‘twenty-twenty’, I embarked on a journey to learn well beyond the realm of simply academics and sports.
News channels broadcasted endless reports of daily deaths, new infection rates, and how personal protective equipment was in short supply globally. A lot of us, I am sure, trembled at the idea of contracting the virus and finding ourselves as reason for a sombre funeral. The lockdowns, and a complete shutdown of most sectors, cast a gloomy veil.
However, in my case, I was not as panic stricken. I used the downtime to my advantage to explore innovative ways and means to save on expenses. I consider myself a frugal person, as are most people on a student budget. Stretching every rupee to the furthest possible distance is not stressful really, but a skill.
And speaking of skills, I decided that rather than enlist the services of a barber, why could I not try and perform the job myself? In fact, on many occasions, I wasn’t too pleased with the outcome after visiting a barber’s anyway. So, it was sensible then to try and learn the ‘art of hair grooming’ myself.
The spark to learn
My go to resource was YouTube. The video platform was also seeing major uptake as a learning platform too. It is quite possible to learn almost anything one desires from YouTube — be it cooking, learning to play an instrument or gardening. This may sound easy since all one needs to do is sit and watch videos. But it requires high patience levels and proper filtering of videos.
While it does take a while to find engaging content, I was soon adept at unearthing hair-dressing tutorials. Watching videos was fun, it was a rich learning experience but up until then, it was all theory. I realised I needed to practice hair-dressing on someone. This, I felt, would be a true test of whether I had learnt anything substantial. It would also prove that, “Yes, I have learnt it finally.”
Stepping up to the occasion was my ever supportive father. I must admit I did have to nag him incessantly, but he finally gave in and decided to be my ‘guinea pig’ to experiment on. I did not let him down, but it was not my best performance either. Besides, he wouldn’t mind a few ruffles, especially since I was his offspring. Looking back, Dad was my first client so to speak.
Going back to school
By December 2020, several schools had reopened, and so did mine. Even though strict pandemic protocols were in place, the initial few days were most gratifying. We were meeting our classmates after what seemed an eternity. As we caught up on the months that had passed, and teachers rushed to complete the syllabi, we barely had a moment to realise how quickly time was flying by. I mean when I look at it in hindsight now, it all seems like a flash.
Time, they say, is relative. When you are experiencing an enjoyable time, it is that much more difficult to keep track of. But we had a more pressing problem on our hands; it was making inroads just as quickly as time seemed to fly by. In case you’re wondering what this grave problem was, it was of a more mundane kind. But in a pandemic situation, it was not as minor as it would earlier have seemed.
Most of my friends were sprouting hair faster than they imagined. Many soon began to look like their primate ancestors. Without hair cuts for months, the unfolding scenario was one of impending chaos. And I knew I had to showcase my newly acquired skills over the lockdown.
I was met with initial hesitation but when they realised how ‘proficient’ I was, they willingly asked of my services. I loved dressing their hair on Sundays when I was free, when we were all in the hostel. It was one of those times when I could ask for literally anything from my friends in return for my work. But I chose not to do so. I guess I was ‘giving back to society’.
But on a more serious note, I also realise how quickly our time in school is running out. Two of our best years in boarding school have, unfortunately, been missed out on. As I reflect on events from a year ago, I cannot wait any longer to head back to school and have fun with my boys.