RAPUNZEL OF MUMBAI


Mumbai woman sets record for longest hair


Grimms Fairy Tales

 

Rapunzel

There were once a man and a woman who had long in vain wished for a child. At length the woman hoped that God was about to grant her desire. These people had a little window at the back of their house from which a splendid garden could be seen, which was full of the most beautiful flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to go into it because it belonged to an enchantress, who had great power and was dreaded by all the world.

One day the woman was standing by this window and looking down into the garden, when she saw a bed which was planted with the most beautiful rampion - rapunzel, and it looked so fresh and green that she longed for it, and had the greatest desire to eat some. This desire increased every day, and as she knew that she could not get any of it, she quite pined away, and began to look pale and miserable. Then her husband was alarmed, and asked, what ails you, dear wife. Ah, she replied, if I can't eat some of the rampion, which is in the garden behind our house, I shall die.

The man, who loved her, thought, sooner than let your wife die, bring her some of the rampion yourself, let it cost what it will. At twilight, he clambered down over the wall into the garden of the enchantress, hastily clutched a handful of rampion, and took it to his wife. She at once made herself a salad of it, and ate it greedily. It tasted so good to her - so very good, that the next day she longed for it three times as much as before. If he was to have any rest, her husband must once more descend into the garden. In the gloom of evening, therefore, he let himself down again. But when he had clambered down the wall he was terribly afraid, for he saw the enchantress standing before him.

How can you dare, said she with angry look, descend into my garden and steal my rampion like a thief. You shall suffer for it. Ah, answered he, let mercy take the place of justice, I only made up my mind to do it out of necessity. My wife saw your rampion from the window, and felt such a longing for it that she would have died if she had not got some to eat. Then the enchantress allowed her anger to be softened, and said to him, if the case be as you say, I will allow you to take away with you as much rampion as you will, only I make one condition, you must give me the child which your wife will bring into the world. It shall be well treated, and I will care for it like a mother.

The man in his terror consented to everything, and when the woman was brought to bed, the enchantress appeared at once, gave the child the name of rapunzel, and took it away with her. Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful child under the sun. When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a tower, which lay in a forest, and had neither stairs nor door, but quite at the top was a little window. When the enchantress wanted to go in, she placed herself beneath it and cried, rapunzel, rapunzel, let down your hair to me.

Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when she heard the voice of the enchantress she unfastened her braided tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window above, and then the hair fell twenty ells down, and the enchantress climbed up by it. After a year or two, it came to pass that the king's son rode through the forest and passed by the tower.

Then he heard a song, which was so charming that he stood still and listened. This was rapunzel, who in her solitude passed her time in letting her sweet voice resound. The king's son wanted to climb up to her, and looked for the door of the tower, but none was to be found. He rode home, but the singing had so deeply touched his heart, that every day he went out into the forest and listened to it.

Once when he was thus standing behind a tree, he saw that an enchantress came there, and he heard how she cried, rapunzel, rapunzel, let down your hair. Then rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the enchantress climbed up to her. If that is the ladder by which one mounts, I too will try my fortune, said he, and the next day when it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried, rapunzel, rapunzel, let down your hair. Immediately the hair fell down and the king's son climbed up.

At first rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man, such as her eyes had never yet beheld, came to her. But the king's son began to talk to her quite like a friend, and told her that his heart had been so stirred that it had let him have no rest, and he had been forced to see her. Then rapunzel lost her fear, and when he asked her if she would take him for her husband, and she saw that he was young and handsome, she thought, he will love me more than old dame gothel does. And she said yes, and laid her hand in his. She said, I will willingly go away with you, but I do not know how to get down.

Bring with you a skein of silk every time that you come, and I will weave a ladder with it, and when that is ready I will descend, and you will take me on your horse. They agreed that until that time he should come to her every evening, for the old woman came by day. The enchantress remarked nothing of this, until once rapunzel said to her, tell me, dame gothel, how it happens that you are so much heavier for me to draw up than the young king's son - he is with me in a moment. Ah.

You wicked child, cried the enchantress. What do I hear you say. I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have deceived me. In her anger she clutched rapunzel's beautiful tresses, wrapped them twice round her left hand, seized a pair of scissors with the right, and snip, snap, they were cut off, and the lovely braids lay on the ground. And she was so pitiless that she took poor rapunzel into a desert where she had to live in great grief and misery.

On the same day that she cast out rapunzel, however, the enchantress fastened the braids of hair, which she had cut off, to the hook of the window, and when the king's son came and cried, rapunzel, rapunzel, let down your hair, she let the hair down. The king's son ascended, but instead of finding his dearest rapunzel, he found the enchantress, who gazed at him with wicked and venomous looks. Aha, she cried mockingly, you would fetch your dearest, but the beautiful bird sits no longer singing in the nest. The cat has got it, and will scratch out your eyes as well.

Rapunzel is lost to you. You will never see her again. The king's son was beside himself with pain, and in his despair he leapt down from the tower. He escaped with his life, but the thorns into which he fell pierced his eyes. Then he wandered quite blind about the forest, ate nothing but roots and berries, and did naught but lament and weep over the loss of his dearest wife. Thus he roamed about in misery for some years, and at length came to the desert where rapunzel, with the twins to which she had given birth, a boy and a girl, lived in wretchedness.

He heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards it, and when he approached, rapunzel knew him and fell on his neck and wept. Two of her tears wetted his eyes and they grew clear again, and he could see with them as before. He led her to his kingdom where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented.

A
Mumbai woman sets record for longest hair
An unwritten rule in Kamble’s maternal home is that she bathe last to avoid delays.


A deep blue, plastic bottle of coconut oil sits on top of the showcase in this living room. It looks more a prized trophy than a mere piece of toiletry. In the other room, Reshma Kamble is rocking her 15-day-old boy on her lap. The day he was delivered, two nurses at the maternity hospital in Kalyan had done something curious. As Kamble lay on the stretcher after the operation, they had slyly undone her dense hair bun, exchanged wide-eyed glances during the seemingly unending process and then struggled to tie it back up.

While her mother recalls this non-medical procedure with mild surprise, 25-yearold Kamble simply laughs at the memory. As someone whose hair is a foot-and-ahalf longer than her, Kamble, who grew up in Kalyan is used to such spontaneous invasions of her privacy. "Many people refuse to believe it is real," says the shy Kamble, about her 6-ft-10-inch long tresses that were recently even attested by a doctor. The certificate has helped her find a place in the Limca Book of Records this year, as the woman with the "longest hair" in India.

At 5 ft 4 inches, Kamble has to climb a stool to help her hair touch the floor rather than sweep it. There have even been times when she has stepped on her own hair. An unwritten rule in Kamble's maternal home in Kalyan is that she would enter the bathroom last. "It takes her over an hour to wash her hair," says Reshma's mother, Sunita, whose genes in fact are partly to blame for this delay. Both Sunita, and her sister boasted long hair in their youth but soon lost their treasured inheritance to diabetes and blood pressure.

Kamble though safeguards her long, ancestral gift as fiercely as she does her newborn. It has been twelve years since she last cuther hair."Ijustwantedto see how long it would grow," says Kamble. Her elder brother, Rahul Angre still remembers his sister waking up early for school to be able to tie her hair into long plaits that she would later fold into ribbons. "Teachers would stare at her hair even as they spoke, as if in a trance," says Angre, who used to enjoy pulling Reshma's hair as a kid and interestingly, today, is a quality officer who certfies products such as shampoos and soap. A favourite prank with Reshma's friends at Birla college, where she studied Arts, was undoing her clip when she wasn't looking and running away.

Now, each time she combs her hair in her marital ground floor home in Ahmednagar, an audience forms at the window. Once, in fact, a neighbour peeked, marvelled and guessed aloud that her husband may have fallen for her locks. "But I only happened to get a view of her tresses after marriage," swears Satish Kamble, a traffic inspector who had just heard of the length of her locks till then. Theirs was an arranged marriage and the traffic inspector only had a passport photograph of his prospective wife before marriage. Even during their wedding, "guests wondered if she was wearing extensions," says Kamble's cheerful sister-inlaw Reena.

Frequently, kids at railway stations tug at her hair and inquisitive fellow passengers on the train ask for her secret. For several years, the salwar-kameezclad girl, who has never used a shampoo, conditioner or hair-dryer, has been following a simple ritual. "Once a week, I wash my hair with Shikakai soap and follow up by applying coconut oil," says Kamble, whose locks drink up over half a bottle each time.

Today, they soak in attention just as deftly as they do oil. Standing in the living room of her Kalyan residence, when Reshma opens the oiled spiral strands of hair anti-clockwise, they take their time falling to the floor as if she were in an ad. Many house guests have been privy to this show of thick, silky and heavy hair that "I have to hold in my hand to reduce the weight on my head," says Kamble.

The 25-year-old, who was even approached for a shampoo advertisement once, proudly shows off two albums full of pictures of two local competitions for long hair that she won in 2007 and 2009 respectively. In both sets, the crown sits proudly on the head of this clear winner as she stands amid a bevy of ladies whose hair barely reaches their knee. "I am going to continue to grow my hair," says Kamble, who admires Chinese women for their straight, waterfall-like hair.

While her husband is proud of her achievements, he has his share of fun at her expense though. The couple recently purchased another house on the second floor of the same building that they reside in. When they decide to move in, "I won't be using the stairs," he told her.