The Cutting of My Long Hair
For the narrator, the first day was difficult. It was cold, and a bell further crashed her eardrum with an uneasy cry. The inner soul of the narrator longed for freedom, but it was all in vain. The narrator was in a school (Carlisle Indian School) where there were Indian girls.
The school authorities snatched her blanket from her. There was a dining table in the center, where she had to sit along with other girls. However, the narrator sat before all the girls. She realized that she had committed a mistake and tried to rectify it.
The narrator was very upset about her identity being snatched away from her. She was surprised to see other Indian girls acting normally on being treated that way. The narrator tried to see the man whose voice came from the end of the table while everyone else was looking down their plates. Another bell rang, and everyone started to eat while the narrator began to cry.
The narrator’s friend Judewin told the narrator that the pale-faced woman was thinking of cutting her long hair. The narrator was very upset as her mother had told her that short hair symbolized a fallen warrior. According to the narrator’s mother (since they were native Americans and had a warrior’s mindset), only the cowards cut their hair.
Judewin thought they must submit to the pale-faced woman’s will, but the narrator decided to rebel. She crept to the upside storey of the building and hid in a room under the bed. Everyone called her name, but she kept hiding.
Finally, the woman entered the room and found the narrator. She dragged the girl (narrator) though she resisted to the best of her limits. They cut her hair with cold blades, and she was torn inside. She had no one to comfort her. She felt like one of many little animals tamed by the pale-faced woman.
We Too are Human Beings
When the narrator (Bama) was in third class, she had experienced the pangs of untouchability. However, she never heard someone talk of it openly. As the distance to her home from her school was only of ten minutes, it usually took her thirty minutes to reach home as she would watch all the fun and games in the streets.
The things that she saw were the performing monkey, the cyclist, the Pongal offerings, the sweet stall, etc. People from many political parties also played their part, and all sought of entertainment was present there. The waiter, the people chopping onion would delay her journey home even more.
She was surprised to see an older man of her community come up with a little packing and holding in it such a way that he did not touch any part of it. He gave it to the landlord, who was sitting at a high place. She thought as to why the older man held that packet in that way.
It was perhaps a vadais, according to her. She went home and narrated the whole story to her brother, who was not happy while listening to her anecdote. Annan (her brother) told her that the man was not funny. Everyone believed them to be of the lower caste, so they must not touch the upper caste’s food.
The little girl (narrator) did not want to laugh anymore. She was so angry that she wanted to touch that vadais herself. The thought of an elder man (of her community) delivering a food packet to an upper-caste man while bowing down made her furious.
She thought that her community’s people were also human beings and should work as normal humans do. Annan told her that a man from the upper caste asked him, “where he lived”?
This inquiry was to know whether he was from an upper or a lower caste. The narrator took her wording seriously and stood first in the class.