11 Mar

January 31, 2013. 5.30 am. Silicon Valley.

The peal of my ringtone pierced the dark, as I groped in my sleep for the ‘phone. “They’re taking him in,” said a familiar voice at the other end. “I’m on my way,” I responded before the line went dead and adrenalin kicked in. Three hours later, I was buckling my seat belt as the aircraft taxied on the runway, ready to begin its transatlantic journey.

January 30, 2013. Time unknown. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

He was all of 28 and engaged to be married at the end of the year. His fiance was an ICU nurse at a prominent South Bombay hospital. That is all we know of him, other than the fact that the crash killed him instantly. And in his death, he gave a new lease of life through his organs to no less than five people, my loved one among them.

Present day. Silicon Valley.

It’s been more than two years since the incidents above. I’ve moved homes, switched jobs, acquired another car, waddled through a pregnancy, and now have an infant (yes, we graduated from Senior Newborn last month!) Yet, there has not been a day since January 31, 2013 that I have not blessed and thanked this young man’s soul for his generosity, foresight, and incredible humanity. There has not been a day since January 31, 2013 that I have not pondered on how to pay it forward. Finally, last November, two days before our Liebling made his appearance, I took the plunge.

Ever since I can remember, my hair has been a topic of discussion. Friends and strangers would admire it at social events, Daddy would be upset every time I cut it, guys in college wrote shayaris and poems about it, and you folks were so generous in your compliments even when it wasn’t the point of the post. I suppose I took it for granted, because I’ve always been somewhat indifferent to it, maintaining that it is my mum’s genes and father’s regular oiling–and nothing I did–that are to be credited. I’ve worn it long, short, and every length in-between. It’s been occasionally highlighted, been its natural color and texture for most of its life cycle, and kept generally clean but otherwise not particularly obsessed over. Even now, with a few strands of white in it, I feel no dismay, for it is but the natural progression of things and vanity is not among my many faults. And yet, I can imagine what it must feel like to lose it. To have to go out in public and have people stare because you don’t conform to the norm. To have the choice of whether to grow it long or chop it off taken away from you. And because I can give no other organ while I am alive, and really wanted someone to benefit from it, I decided to give away my hair to Locks of Love.

In May 2014. I was in my first trimester.

In May 2014. I was in my first trimester.

Two days before our son was born, the Boy, somewhat sad but supportive as always, drove me to the salon and my trusted stylist Stefanie took care of things.

In November 2014. Two days before our baby was born. I loved how wavy pregnancy made my otherwise straight hair!

In November 2014. Two days before our baby was born. I loved how wavy pregnancy made my otherwise straight hair!

It was quick, painless, and joyful. Some little one somewhere (or two, since Stefanie said it was a lot of hair) would have a wig of natural hair to make their cancer journey easier. A weight, both literal and metaphorical, had been lifted off my head. And the smile on my Boy’s face as I walked out assured me he approved as well.

Chop chop!

Chop chop!

That was more than 3 months ago. Since then, I’ve enjoyed my shorter, more manageable locks that gently graze my shoulders and keep out of my busy way. I’m grateful for the shorter length, since my baby has taken to grabbing strands with gusto. I may very well be as bald as him soon if this continues. And because childbirth has given me a newfound and immense respect for the human body, I will know better than to take it for granted when it grows back.

The purpose of this post is to share what’s been in my heart and on my mind, and to humbly request you to think about it as well. It is such a miniscule act in the face of that nameless young man’s charity that I would be embarrassed if you praised it. (So don’t!) Do think about being an organ donor. Each of us has the power to bestow life. And in the meantime, if all you have to give is your hair, you can now do it in India as well. Someday, it will age, grey, and fall off anyway. But as long as it’s healthy and on your head, you’ve got a lot more than a child who could do with some.

Have you ever committed to donating an organ? Please share in the comments section and inspire the rest of us.

And pssst! You guys are the first to know: I’m planning to grow it so I can do this again. 🙂

11 Responses to “Lovelocked”

  1. Aban March 11, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

    Hi my sweet new momma! Sorry, I have been hibernating for quite a while. What a sweet, warm and loving gesture. Why am I not surprised? You actively seek out ways to better the world with your elevating thoughts and actions. The Wee One truly has an amazing mother…also the Boy, not to be left out, without whose unswerving support in all things that matter is also amazing!

  2. Revathy March 13, 2015 at 7:41 am #

    OJ, you are so generous and inspiring. xx The husband and I want to be organ donors, we haven’t put any paperwork in place though, I will get on it. 🙂

  3. Aunty G. March 13, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    Remembering a young man who is no more
    Her lovely locks she left at Stefanie’s store
    An example to us
    Her cheeks i could buss
    That’s beloved OJ –generous and caring to the core!

  4. Sumana March 14, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    No comparison to organ donation, but here’s my locks of love story: About 12 or so years ago, I decided I needed to cut my hair shorter, and went for a trim to the “Super Cuts” chain store down the street from my apartment block. I told her to cut off 4 or 5 inches. She said “Well next time, perhaps you could cut off more and send it to locks of love. We looked at each other in the mirror and went for it – 13 inches and my hair went from waist length to shoulder length in a few minutes. I went home feeling lighter in more ways than one.

  5. Aunty G. March 15, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

    Shabbaash Sumana, you did SO right
    You made some lil’one’s Life so bright
    Bless you too, dear Lady
    You’re an Ace of Spadey
    May you reach Seventh Heaven’s height!

  6. ittakestime March 18, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    Wow, that’s awesome OJ! Very thoughtful of you 🙂

  7. alice March 20, 2015 at 11:48 am #

    I have been away from the blogging scene for long, and I see I have missed lots and lots. Congratulations on your baby OJ!!

  8. Deepa March 22, 2015 at 7:09 am #

    how utterly lovely you did this jammies:-) appreciate it even more so now that I’m a C patient myself and often come across my comrades mourning the unnatural loss of their beloved hair. And how much more lovely to know your loved one’s life was given a new lease thru the generosity of that young man. Makes me happy to live in a world peopled by you and him and your kinds.

    A kissie-kissie to the little one. While your locks grow you can gaze at his cuz I’m sure he was born with a head full-o-hair just like his momma:-)

  9. Roshni March 30, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

    California has the provision of adding an organ donor symbol on one’s driver’s license. So, if I am ever involved in an auto accident, my driver’s license would serve to inform people of my wishes!
    I’m so glad that you contributed in whichever way is feasible! You may think it is a small gesture but it will have a huge impact on the child who will have a beautiful head of hair as a result!

  10. MM April 15, 2015 at 7:34 pm #

    The state I live in asks if you’d like to identify as an organ donor on your driver’s license. I figured it was the easiest way to make my wishes known and I can’t think of very many instances where I’d die without my license on me, so yup I am an organ donor and hopefully a simple Yes on a questinnaire will make some people in the future very happy

  11. Orange Jammies April 22, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    People, did any of you read the post? 🙂 I specifically requested no compliments! Very embarrassing, this whole business. 😳

    Abanty: Need to catch up soon!

    Revathy: Do it, do it!

    Aunty G: You shower me with love and respect
    Although I strongly suspect
    You’d show the same ardor
    Through pillage and murder
    Which would be quite circumspect. 😉

    ittakestime: Not really. Easy-peasy!

    alice: Thank you, girl. 🙂

    Deepa: Hey you, how are things in your world? Sending hugs. (And psst! The Nugget was as bald as his mum at birth. 😉 )

    Roshni: Yes, I plan to get that change made the next time my license renews.

    MM: You’re an inspiration. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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