Hair Oil and Other Bonds

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Tales have elucidated the divine, inseparable bond between the grandmother and her granddaughter since time immemorial. Everything from Red Riding Hood, the young girl in a red cape who had gone to give her grandmother some cheese, pie and honey when she was ill, to poetry talks about the strong love and affection which a grandmother has for her granddaughter, and the other way.

In the process, a few things have remained. The utopic Grandmother is the best person to oil her granddaughter’s hair. She takes all the time in the world to caress her granddaughter’s locks, untangling them with utter care and precision, and delicately combing through them. She uses her special secret perfect oil recipe on her young grandchild’s hair, whether it be coconut or almond, brushing and parting all along. Teaching her about being a lady all the while.

In all of this, this hair oil and this periodic ritual of getting one’s hair combed from granny, has strengthened other bonds.

I once read a poem by Grace Nicholls, titled Granny, Granny, Please Comb My Hair, wherein the poet says

“Granny, Granny

Please comb my hair

You always take your time

You always take such care.

You put me to sit on a cushion

Between your knees

You rub a little coconut oil

Parting gentle as a breeze.”

She goes on to say that her Granny is so much better than her mother, who is always in a rush, and often tugs her hair!  The idea has been adopted in modern day novels as well, like the famous chick flick series by Meg Cabot, called Princess Dairies, which trails a young girl’s journey to become a princess, guided by, of course, her royal paternal grandmother.

For all of us, the conformist position between granny’s knees has remained the ticket to listen to the tales of her young love with grandpa, the ever-fascinating tale of the axiom fox and the queens of Neverland, learning to play cards, eating her triangular pancakes, and sleeping in her lap. The cushion between her knees, has been the wormhole to all the world’s pamper and mollycoddle that a young granddaughter needs.

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It is this unflinching care that a grandmother has for her granddaughter and unending affection that she has for her granny which inspires so much literature, and has such precedence in our lives.

Why does a grandmother love her granddaughter’s hair so much? Does her locks remind her of the young girl she was? Is it her rookie to get her tireless grandchild to sleep? Or is it just to buy more time for her moral lessons?

I know not why, but I know that the young girl her grandchild grows to become is all because of this hair oiling ritual, and the many other bonds that this greases. The hair oiling, which buys the grandmother her time to talk of the old days, her time to shape the mind of her young grandchild, enough time to teach her about life, about its mannerisms, and just about enough time to bond well the beautiful lady with strong long locks which she grows into. It’s really, all just hair oil.

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