A “Bad Hair” Day

I found this in “drafts” as I was going through old posts, saving files, making hard copy….  Some old drafts were starts that didn’t need to finish.  This one seemed worth posting as it made me smile so much.  Too bad I didn’t take a picture at the time. 

Yesterday was literally a “bad hair” day and probably the very worst hair day i’ve had since I was 12 and the perm chemical burned my scalp and I broke out with blisters all over my back.  So, for the next 44 years I have not had a bad hair day until yesterday.  I realize in writing that I don’t even consider my loss of hair from chemotherapy in this category.  Yesterday, and age 12 were about “screw-ups”.

 I needed a touch up and finally found time Thursday evening.  I’ll cut to the end, which is that I went in looking for touch up of my reddish brown and came out with BLACK hair.  This was not an accident or a mis communication, but a hair dresser who was angry that I’d turned him down many times when he wanted to massage my head and I’d been using other people.  The salon told me I could come back and they would lighten it.  This is an “upscale” place I’ve been going to for at least a year.

In the spirit of celebration , I decided a special treat would be to take out “First in Class” winner to the salon with me, to have her hair cut (which she wanted) and to have a first manicure, and I’d have my hair fixed.   We had a great time.  BUT, my hair was a disaster.  First they tried to dye it reddish but after an hour it was clear that black could not be lightened.  I was actually quite relaxed about it, but insistent it wasn’t OK.  So, they bleached it to get out the black.  The problem was, and I could see from how they put it on, that they didn’t cover all areas.  So I sat wondering what this was going to look like and I knew it wasn’t good.  My “First in Class” and I laughed and I ordered up croissants as it was taking so long.  I kept whispering to her, “I think this is REALLY bad!”  In the meantime she’d had her manicure, and loved it, with pink sparkly polish that matched the salwar suit she was wearing.  The haircut was layered to her shoulders, and is really beautiful.

After the bleach — I think they were just in over their heads (no pun intended) as they didn’t seem to register how bad it was, they put on the red dye.  I’ve written before about Holi, the festival of colours.  People put powder dye and spray water with dye.  I look like I’ve just been “Holied” as my head is a combination of orange, red, and black streaks and patches.  But what to do?  So I said it was fine, and I’ll go elsewhere. 

So, “Beautiful First in Class” and Mummy skipped out of there laughing at my head and came home.  The girls love my funny looking head.  I don’t have to look at it except when brushing my teeth.

First in Class

One of our girls was first in class.  24 April was "results" day and we walked to school to receive the year-end report cards.  Everyone was tense (except me).  I knew they had all done well.  They were well prepared.  I have a very good team of teachers right now.  They have given their all, and the girls have worked hard. 

One by one the girls are called, and handed their results.  It is done inside the classroom while all the parents line up outside along the windows straining to hear, whispering among each other.  We heard names, and then we heard lots of praise.  One of our girls was first in her class.  She truly deserved this as she worked and worked, staying with her books long after the others were at play.  She has dreams.  She wants to be a doctor.  Her dreams are our dreams.

Everyone did well.  Two others were also right near the top of the class.  It was truly a day of celebration.  We had another reason to celebrate as the gov. school had agreed to admit two of our handicapped children!  We will work with the school on the best way to do this, but the acceptance is incredible.  So we celebrated!!!!  Big time!!!.  We waited for the afternoon teacher to come and then whisked her off, all of us, including friend Chris Futia visiting from the US, Gibi and her kids, and we went to Crosswords Bookstore.  The girls had never been there before and we bought a collection that truly reflects our children.  In the Bengali section we bought some collections of poetry, stories, and recitations — and some comic books in Bengali.  Then we went to the children's section and bought some simple English books.  And of course, a few of the girls really wanted the Cinderella coloring books.  After consultation with my internal "Nay sayer." I said yes.  We took Ganga with us.  She liked a book with horses — and I liked the picture of the gray mare and the brown colt.  The girls also picked out a book for Bornali, vegetable pictures and names.

Chris Aunty wanted to add to the celebration with ice cream so we went to South City Mall food court and had ice cream.  It was just a very happy day, just a normal day of celebration.

 

We are a Normal Household

Now Saturday morning, the morning after Friday night "Snake Pit" and the kids are watching cartoons.  I just want everyone to know how normal we are and how guilty I feel as a mother that my kids are watching TV while I write and have some quiet time.  Their teacher won't come until ten am.  This is between school terms.  The new school year will start 2 May.  Their last year's results will be out 24th April.  We have been to Science City, and to visit Bubbi in her village, which was a typical very hot day in the village.  I hung out with Bubbi and the kids watched TV — more normalness.

I must clean my room which really is about putting away papers and "stuff" but I feel like I've been putting away, or trying to put away the same collection of stuff and papers for most of my life.  It's not one of my better skills.  I'd rather be blogging.

“SNAKE PIT”

Things are getting a bit easier these days.  I found a graphics designer and printer for the Annual Report (last year's) and I've started on this year's, but i'm no longer trying to do it all myself.  It's a relief.  I have a new consultant who is working with me, a woman with years of experience in disability… and we seem to get along.  Her task is to organize the admin within six months.  The financials are done for the year and the audit will be done shortly.  I'm still being harassed by the government official who has been a problem for so long, but i've hired someone just to deal with that paperwork and negotiations.  Sometimes I can actually ask myself, what do I want to do now,

So, I get to hang out more with the kids, what I enjoy… a good movie.  I've learned that they have rummaged through my collection, some I hadn't put out for them.  They found Snake Pit, (a 1948 movie with Olivia de Haviland) and asked to see it.  So we sat and watched Snake Pit.  It will be one of their favorites, as is Three Faces of Eve.  They don't understand a lot of it, but they "get it" about mental illness and they care, look for who is good, who is bad, and we talk about "bababa" in the head.  I think they each understand and have experienced some chaos of the mind.

It's just a surprise to me, a few dvds I brought along not even knowing why… just holding on to a piece of my past. 

Anyway i've just had a really peaceful evening watching Snake Pit with the girls, explaining what they didn't understand, looking to see who remained transfixed, six of the big girls, and Ganga of course.  I had to explain what electroshock was, and why they were doing this to her.  So of course there were memories…. I was a resident at Shephard and Enoch Prat Hospital when they were still doing electroshock.  I stopped it.  I'm not joking.  During my internship I had cared for a man I had known as a teenager — I'd "broken" his horse for him, a horse he couldn't tame.  I wasn't a horse whisperer, but I seemed to have my personal touch.  Years later his wife brought him to the hospital with brain disorder, and he recognized me.  So the doc and I worked as hard as we could, including taking him for a consultation to Dr. Kalinowski, who had brought ECT to the US.

So, when I was a resident, I was assigned on rotation to ECT.  The patients came in terrified and screaming.  The supervising doc was barbaric and I remember his holding my thumb on the button because I didn't want to do it.  They were doing it wrong.  It's similar to the battle over death penalty drugs.  They were giving the drug that paralyzed before the drug that sedated.  So patients were fully awake and in pain but unable to respond because they were paralyzed.  There was also no real resuscitation equipment, just a bag. 

After the session I got on the phone with Dr. Kalinowski's partner, who was available and I talked to him about what was going on.  I got from him the exact protocol of how it was to be done.  I then went directly to the director of the hospital, told him what I'd seen, and gave him the notes from my conversation with Dr. Kalinowski's partner.  The Director closed the program that day.  They decided that if they were to do it they would take patients to the general hospital nearby where the protocol would be followed and breathing equipment was available.

Years later I met a psychiatrist who told me she had gone to that hospital because they didn't do ECT.  I told her the story of why.

looking back, of course it was big.  Looking back from Shishur Sevay in Kolkata I'm impressed.  But to be honest, at the time I felt fear more than anything else.  I was afraid of taking on the Director, the supervisor, who hated me thereafter.  But I was driven by my thumb, by the promise that my thumb would never have to touch that button again.  I did what I had to.  I'm still like that.  People in India think I only make trouble here, or because I'm here.  I make trouble because of the bababa in my own head, the cries I hear, the pain I take in from others and I just do what I can, must, in spite of my fears.

It's good to be able to relax and watch these painful movies with the kids.  They "get it."

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