Author : Dee Harding

Samsara has worn his locks for 15 years, shining and strong. He has adapted to them by sleeping sideways and letting them learn to clean themselves. Each tangled cluster of keratine farms its own rot, the rain, and the detritus of everyday life. Stray protein quietly becoming fuel for a million miniscule workers, all sculpting their environment in long sheathes and spirals. When the city smog is bad all that can be seen of Samsara beyond his mask are the crawling oil-slick dreadlocks, unbound. Throughout his culture’s history, hair has been alive with the symbolism of wind, water and fire. It has not taken so very long for those abstracts to become material, but his mane remains ritual before anything else.

Anything but the divide. Those that take the twisting path serve the economy’s invisible hand. Although the knotted braids are an efficient manifold for Samsara’s microbial hive they weigh him down with meaning. They bind him to his place within the kingdom and decades of financial debt still to be paid. His scalp harbours his craft, his industry and his caste, all impossible to hide. Those of the Breed spend half their lives physically unconstrained but in monetary bondage before they cultivate the 9 foot long archipelago that marks a master of the art. A sage so skilled as to be rooted to the spot and cared for by concubines, physically encumbered but spiritually free.

In some ways, even now, it is difficult to determine where each compound filament of Samsara’s hair ends. They thread through their own strands of infection into the pheremonal plumage of kingdom socialites and prostitutes, the telluric ephemera of engineers and navigators, the chemical sequencing of medics and pushers alike. Even bald, Samsara is telepresent. Which is good, considering, but no real consolation. Stone burns into his knees in the mid-day heat, ankles bound, and the crowd is silent. No-one will approach but the perfect men with swarming skin. Samsara can send nothing past their gracious smiles and he weeps. No fear has been greater than this moment, every nerve is wracked with grief. They walk closer now, and closer. People like Samsara creep up against every boundary, breaking laws that have yet to evolve, but every loop-hole curls in on itself in time. He is caught dead centre in the web of New Delhi, broken, while around him bronzed razors flash in the sun.

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