About a week ago, I blogged about the upcoming CANSA Shavathon on Saturday, the 7th of March 2009.
Well, we went and did it! And we survived the embarrassment of getting our heads shaved in public.
I’d emailed all my (local) friends as well as all the students in our research group at varsity, and only one was brave enough to join us. So, on Saturday afternoon, we duly met up at Canal Walk in front of Game, where the Cancer Association of South Africa and all their volunteers had set up a stand.
There were many people standing around, staring in amazement at the young men wielding hair clippers and painstakingly shaving one head after another. In another section, a group of very cheerful young ladies were spraying elaborate patterns of colourful vegetable dyes onto the hair of those who didn’t want to go bare – but also on a couple of shaved heads.
We registered, paid R50 a head (hehe – literally), and joined the queue. In the relatively short time we were there, I noticed that it was mainly the men who went for the shave, while their girlfriends and wives chose the spray. In the queue just before us, though, was a young black woman with very thick hair, who had it all shaved off… I thought that was really brave of her. She looked ethereally beautiful without her hair, though, and her lovely, peaceful smile melted away my nervous tension.
The young man behind us, who had very fine blond hair that was already quite short, said that he was going to ask for the shortest possible shave. He explained that some very good friends of his were fighting cancer, and that this was his way of supporting them.
When the moment of truth came, and I was finally pushed towards the next empty chair, I asked for a ‘number 2’, and so did Richard.
Our friend Liezl courageously agreed to sacrifice all her beautiful long hair. As it was longer than 20 cm, the young man who shaved it tied it up into an upside-down pony tail and kept most of it intact, so that it could be refashioned into a wig for cancer patients.
There was loud cheering and applause all around when he cut it. I was sitting in front of her, and so couldn’t turn around to watch, but it brought tears to my eyes and made us feel quite emotional. Apparently, that day at the shopping centre, she’d only been the second person with hair long enough to save.
Her husband Volker stood nearby, taking photographs, cracking jokes, and making us laugh away our anxiety and self-consciousness.
When we returned home afterwards, I feared that our Tuffy-Cat might not recognise us and flee yowling down the street. But it appears that she has other priorities: as long as there’s fresh water in one bowl, kibbles in another bowl, and a soft and cosy place to sleep at night (i.e. between us on the bed), she’s the perfect embodiment of Buddha-cat.
She graciously allowed me to rub my head against her soft fur, which (for the first time ever) is now quite a bit longer than my hair!
And she even purred her approval – I wish it was a magic photo that included a sound-clip of her deep, contented rumble!