Life has pretty much been a 'going with the (family) wind' as far as decisions related to how I looked like. To be more precise, it was to the extent of 'when I had to trim my hair' to 'what's the style I must keep' so that it adheres to each of our tastes (for me it should be trendy, for my mom it should be neat and presentable while for my granny it should befit her taste). After running through these permutations and combinations, my hairdo has more or less been a 'summer cut' (and yeah it is summer throughout the year in this part of the world) and a clean shave for a great part of my life. Fast forward to the present here I am sporting a beard for almost two years now. And for this 'crime' I have been judged all the sorts ranging from people telling me that I look like a Muslim to asking me if I am expecting a baby. I have greatly developed a thick skin to just plainly ignore all of those.
However there has been this one constant comment that I used to get on my (bearded) face which I couldn't ignore. It goes on like this. A grownup brings up a naughty / not-eating child nearby and points and refers to me telling "If you don't behave / eat properly then I will hand you over to this boochandi (apparently a slang for child trafficker)". And unsurprisingly more often than not the child obliges and turns orderly. They further this to asking me to be more 'normal' so that it appeals to the kids. I used to suggest to some of those grownups that the children do not form an opinion themselves and it is generally our coercing that makes them eventually react similarly.
I used to wonder how much such visual stereotyping creates a pattern in children's minds which they carry on in their lives and tend to form opinions on lot of things thereafter based on their (acquired) idiotic reasoning while examining the visual aspect of things. Hence when I had my baby (we call him Chubbu) I was very clear on two things. One, not to shave just because people suggested that my shaving would make Chubbu more comfortable with me and two, not to impose any appearance based perceptive habits into him.
Cut the chase to after 9 months of Chubbu's birth and I was at a cousin's baby shower and family ceremonies are where I am mostly the odd one out off all the people who turn up. Chubbu had come with me for this event as he having already set a precedent of being really comfortable to unfamiliar faces and get along real easily. As expected a lot of folks wanted to have some Chubbu time for themselves and he was shunting from one aunt to another and ended up landing up in the hands of an uncle. For no reason whatsoever he started to cry out loud. I was surprised and hence I took over to pacify him. He was cool in no time and I passed him onto another cousin who was the only respite for me with respect to the beard stuff in that gathering. Chubbu was pretty cool with him as well just as much as he was with other women folks.
It has been so far so good and then something extraordinary happened. Once again Chubbu was passed on by the round-robin way to that same uncle and he burst out crying instantly and a thought struck to me almost instantly. Just to confirm the premise of my reasoning I passed him onto this cousin of mine again and he was back to playful ways. To prove the point quite convincingly I passed him onto this same uncle again and he started to cry. I was now very clear on this newfound knowledge. Therefore after pacifying him I passed onto to several uncles and he cried almost instantly at the hands of almost every one of those folks.
It was hence proven without an iota of doubt that Chubbu has developed a resistance and displeasure to be in the company of 'clean shaven' men. Amidst kids who were made to be scared of 'boochandi' here's a baby who was displeased to be in the company of those 'neat and charming' people and not because he was conditioned to but because he chose himself to be so.
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