Gift of the lockdown, pandemic, less frequent visits to salon whatever it maybe, I got my tresses back. My hair just grew and grew well. Soon I started trying different styles of khopa or juda at home. I became obsessed with khopa or bun. I was delighted when I could make a haath khopa. If you are a Bengali, you know what a haath khopa is. Every morning my Mom would wrap her long black hair around her palm and make a simple bun. The bun would come off often and her black tresses tumble down to be made into a bun again. Much that I admired the process and her long black hair, I didn’t really fancy a khopa, let alone a haath khopa then. I thought it was too commonplace, there was nothing fashionable about it!
But I loved long hair, maybe my mom’s and masi’s thick black hair inspired me to grow my hair. When I was in class 7, I refused to cut my hair. Though my dad thought I was wasting too much time on my hair when I should be studying, I was strongly supported by my dadi and nani. And soon I had luscious black hair tumbling down my waist and falling on my hips. My crown of hair was my pride for years. When in school I would tie them neatly into two braids. In college and later when I started working, I would tie them into a single plait or sometimes leave them open. I was noticed for my hair, received so many compliments. Whenever I walked into a room someone or the other would comment on my hair. I loved my long black hair, but then it got boring.
In my late 20s, I got tired of my hair, of wearing the same look for years, of not being able to do much with my hair save tie them into a braid or leave them open. I would tie my hair into a bun or haath khopa at home but that I didn’t fancy. Short hair would be so much smarter I thought. I went to a parlour to get a haircut only to be turned back. People long for such long black hair I was told. Forgotten pride for my tresses raised its head and I came back feeling elated for the moment at least. But that lasted only for days. I went to a different parlour this time dragging my sister-in-law along for support. I sat on the chair and asked them to cut my hair before they could say anything. I still remember my sister in law shutting her eyes when they chopped off my tresses and took them back inside. ‘Which style do you fancy?’ the stylist then asked me.
I wanted steps and I wore my hair in steps, sometimes a little longer, sometimes a little shorter, for years. Then came COVID and we were locked in. Visit to parlours was not advisable so my hair kept growing, soon they were falling on my back. I realized I had missed my longer hair, though I lost bit of thickness they still look good. Finally, when I could go to the parlour, I asked them to just trim my hair and remove the steps.
Then I started experimenting with khopa, something that I have never done before. It could be because I love wearing saris and khopa looks so classy with a sari. I could see the simplicity and the elegance in mom’s haath khopa. I ordered khopar kata and nets online. Khopar kata, was once a very popular hair accessory that dominated fashion. Brides were given khopar kata in gold and silver when they got married. I urged my mom to check if she had any such traditional kata, but unfortunately, she had none. Her dadi had one I was told, but she doesn’t know where it is anymore.
Fortunately, I could find traditional khopar kata online, though the ones what our dadi and nani had would be far better, I am sure. Finally, I could make a haath khopa that a kata would hold well. It looked good, it was quick and easy.
So, in the lockdown, I rediscovered my love for long hair and found my khopa and khopar kata. Some may find it old fashioned but that’s what I have become over the years – a sari, a bindi and a khopa and I am done, for tradition never goes out of fashion!