I was about seven and I desperately wanted to get a haircut. Mum said no. I wouldn't be getting a haircut anytime soon. No reasons, explanations, logic. Just no.
It was a short flouncy bob with a shaved back that I was dreaming of. Marcela, a girl at the next block of flats, was sporting that same haircut with panache and confidence and I imagined it would lend me some of that confidence. She was a kind of gang leader in the neighbourhood, always full of stories and ideas. I can picture her now, her hair flying with an energy I hadn't seen before as she pointed to us all to go chase that dog, that old lady, that homeless beggar. Impressive might be the word.
After a few days of putting the haircut on the agenda, my mother's dismissive response hadn't budged. 'Enough about this. Just go to sleep', she decreed. This was a crucial and necessary event for me, likely to impact the course of my friendships, my confidence, my influence in the neighborhood. Her unwillingness to negotiate a solution angered me to tears. All of a sudden I realised the tyranny of my situation. I was seven years old and my mum ordered my life around like a dictator: what clothes I wore, where I went on holidays (always to my grandparents in the country), what I'd have for dinner, when I did homework and when I played. I couldn't live like this anymore. Things had to change.
I was ruled by a leader who clearly didn't have my best interests at heart. My communist upbringing taught me that these circumstances required I put my head down, pretend I was not affected by the decision, and only discuss the oppression in the privacy of my home, making sure neighbours wouldn't hear me. But I lived with the enemy. There was no hiding from her and I had no choice but to defend my freedom, my independence.
Fueled by the injustice, I ached for a subversive act to express my dissent. I settled on sticking my chewing gum to my eyebrow. It was my eyebrow and I was going to do with it as I pleased. No one could stop me. I went to bed happy with my little act of rebellion.
My happiness didn't survive the night. When I woke up, the gum was still attached to my brow, and now also to my pillow, blanket and the collar of my pajama. I had a funny feeling in my stomach that my act of subversion hadn't gone quite right. I tried pulling the chewing gum, but it now felt like it was an integral part of my physiognomy and I was pulling on my face rather than a foreign object.
Mum wasn't thrilled. After a few attempts at removing the culprit gum, scissors seemed like the only option. We cut the gum away, and my eyebrow with it.
This was my first action of rebellion and the only one for a long time after. I didn't rebel openly against my mother for another 25 years, when I decided I needed to get a divorce and found myself again at great odds with the ruler. But that's another story.