"threads the ends of her hair in like pouring a sacrament"
December 16, 2021 8:04 AM   Subscribe

"Today one of the minders rolls one Veena Kaur Chan into my hairbay for a shampoo and cut. New client, transferring in from Palliative....I’m programmed to be autonomous, so I can access the public domain base for hair puns—hey, if I get a client who’s responsive, it can cheer them up." "Coiffeur Seven" by Kiran Kaur Saini, published this year, is a short science fiction story in which a piece of technology learns to care better for an Indian woman.

Kiran Kaur Saini is -- as her name implies -- the child of a Sikh parent. From "Coiffeur Seven":
I look for previous haircuts. There are a few entries, the first an admittedly passable pixie cut, but as I’m rotating the 360°, the file closes unexpectedly. I check Veena’s network. Sometimes clients’ brains reject the interface. Normally that would happen well before now, but there’s a first time for everything, so I never rule anything out. But all is well. In fact, there’s increased brain activity at the site of the implant, suggesting a very good integration.

The second haircut I pull up is similar, but more hastily done, like someone got interrupted in the middle of the service. The dregs of this disaster might be what she’s sporting now. This haircut glitches out, too, and I’m looking at the face of a minder leaning in, a cup with medications blocking out half her face, an IV drip at Veena’s bedside. I think these images might be misplaced files in her server folder....
posted by brainwane (11 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Truly wonderful work. Thank you for sharing!
posted by foxtongue at 8:28 AM on December 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I loved this. Thank you for posting it.
posted by woodvine at 9:06 AM on December 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

I love this story!
posted by Tesseractive at 9:35 AM on December 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

posted by carrioncomfort at 11:41 AM on December 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

That was beautiful, thank you so much!
posted by Space Kitty at 12:17 PM on December 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Gorgeous, thank you for sharing this.
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:20 PM on December 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh yes, that was a GOOD one. Thank you!
posted by Archer25 at 1:17 PM on December 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

So beautiful!
posted by SaharaRose at 1:57 PM on December 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm glad people liked it.
It took seven boys to hold Inder down before they reached his hair with their knife. That’s when I feel the weight of her own braid, tracing the length of her spine and extending past her tailbone. No one in Veena’s family has ever cut their hair.
This was the moment where I went "Ohhhh" aloud, like a moan. I'm so glad this story conveyed the dignity and lived experience of this Sikh practice (of not cutting one's hair), and I loved the triumphant ending.
posted by brainwane at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2021 [6 favorites]

This was gorgeous, thank you for posting!
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:11 AM on December 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Wow. Just... uh. Wow. Thank you for posting this.
posted by Lexica at 12:09 PM on December 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

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