Bad Hair Day
The temple thronged with women waiting patiently in the stifling heat. Some were crying silently but most waited with a stoic expression etched on their faces.
Keshika tried not to caress her beautiful, waist-length hair and instead gazed at her perfect daughter playing with a feather on the floor of the temple. Akuti was her miracle, born eight years after her marriage, when she had given up hope of ever having a child. Her husband loved her but she knew that he yearned for children and the thought of not being able to provide him with a baby almost broke her heart.
Keshika and Akuti had travelled for two days to reach the temple at Tirumala in the hills of Andhra Pradesh so that Keshika could make a sacrifice to Lord Venkateswara who had answered her prayers. They had travelled by train from their small village, enduring cramped conditions with many other pilgrims, being lulled to sleep by the rocking motion of the carriage and trying to work out who smelt worse, an old woman or her goat. It was only Keshika’s second time on a train and Akuti’s first trip and they were lucky enough to get a seat near the window so were able to glimpse the countryside change and grow more verdant as the train crawled up into the hills.
They disembarked at Tirupati and then walked the remaining sixteen miles to the temple. There was a festival atmosphere as they walked along with many other women and the closer they got to their destination, the more excited everyone became. Akuti walked a good part of the way, with Keshika carrying her when she grew tired and unable to pick up her feet. When they finally saw the temple, its towers of white marble and gold took their breath away.
The queue moved inexorably forward and as Keshika approached the front, she could hear a scraping noise. As she reached the head of the queue she watched as an older woman walked away from the barbers, blinking and rubbing her bald head.
As Keshika took her seat, she glanced down at a basket filled with long, dark hair. Akuti started to whimper so she pulled her onto her lap as the man behind her used a cut-throat razor to expertly shave her long tresses, each clump of hair landing in the basket. The ordeal took only minutes and Keshika walked away feeling uplifted and convinced now that her debt was paid.
Candy Wilde sashayed into the Knightsbridge salon on her sky high Louboutin heels, red soles flashing as she walked and her mountainous breast implants reaching the receptionist’s desk well before she did.
“May I help you?” enquired the imperious receptionist as she looked Candy up and down with evident distaste.
Used to this kind of treatment in upmarket establishments, Candy knew how to deal with uppity types so simply demanded in her flat, estuarine accent, “If I want to talk to a monkey, I’ll go to the zoo. Now go and get me the organ grinder.”
The receptionist’s look went from a sneer to outrage. She opened her mouth to fire off a suitable retort, thought better of it then swung her waterfall of brunette hair over a shoulder and stalked off to find Xander Long.
Candy inspected her nail extensions, thinking that one of the Swarovski crystals had fallen off the fuchsia pink lacquer. It was still there but she would make an appointment to have them touched up anyway as it was almost two weeks since they’d been done. She also made a mental note to book more botox injections as she was sure she’d almost had a facial expression the previous day.
Xander Long, owner of the most prestigious hairdressing salon in London, dealt with only A-list clients personally so was reluctant to see the woman Lara, his receptionist, described as a “life sized Barbie”. Knowing Candy’s type well, he knew if Lara tried to fob her off, she would just make a scene and scare off his celebrity clients.
Xander’s first thought on seeing the woman was “You’ve been Tangoed” followed by a craving for watermelon. Candy was a startling shade of orange and would have been average height if not for the vertiginous heels she wore. Her hair was exactly the same colour as Barbie’s but cut surprisingly short.
“Mr Long, you’ve got to help me,” Candy begged before Xander had even had a chance to open his mouth.
“My stupid bitch of a hairdresser found out I was sleeping with her boyfriend and did this to me,” gesticulating at her head. “I’ve got a photo shoot for Nuts tomorrow and I can’t go looking like this. Everyone says you have the best hair extensions in London. Can you fit me in?” She looked up beseechingly with large blue eyes and fluttered her false eyelashes at him, which must have taken some effort considering the weight of them.
“I’ll see what I can do,” replied Xander, gesturing to Lara to pass him the appointment diary. He wasn’t going to turn down three grand for a full head of hair extensions, not when he had the astronomical rent to pay on the salon and a fondness for the old Bolivian Marching Powder.
“You’re lucky. We’ve had a cancellation and Jorge will be able to see you.”
Jorge’s deft hands glued Keshika’s crowning glory, now dyed blonde, onto Candy’s hair. When he had finished she exclaimed, “You’re a lifesaver!” After she’d paid on her platinum card, Candy hailed a taxi to take her to the opening of a new club where she planned to shag a footballer then sell her story to one of the tabloids.