I met a young Bosnian man during my first months of the conflict here in 1993. He had been processed through the concentration camp at Trnoplje near the town of Prijedor. He was a teenager - just on the borderline age whether or not he would be released or sentenced to the dreadful fate of so many others from that region. We quickly became friends. He was convinced the war would never end. That i had no idea what 'his people', meaning yugoslavs, were like. Naive and ever optimistic, i laughed that off - half to reassure him it would soon be over, half believing it actually might.
At some point and time i made him a bet that i wouldn't cut my hair until the war was over. He readily shook hands with me.
After med school in Argentina I had more of a preppy, clean look. When i left for Mexico I let my hair go for the first time. By the time we liberated Cuba I had a bushy set of hair on my head. Then in Castro's government i kept the beard but my hair was fairly short. It wasn't until i returned to Bolivia that i let my hair down again. The 'last' pictures of me i had fairly long hair, but nothing to brag about. Comrade Tito took me in like a brother, and his doctors performed miracles to change to my looks. I kept the hair short until I met my friend in western Herzegovina.
Not too long after my bet with my new found friend the refugee camp was attacked and ethnically cleansed. I went from seeing and working with him every day to him disappearing into thin air. He was gone. And all i have left of him was the bet we made. So i honoured it. I grew my hair back like the days of revolution. And when the war finally ended I shaved it off. When i did so, however, i realised how fond i was of long hair. Feeling like a white indian i liked the natural sensation of my long hair. The past ten years i let it grow and grow. An old man like me sporting a long blonde (thanks to Tito) ponytail.
Well, times change. Things evolve. Revolutions come and go. I shaved my head the other night. It's been a decade since i felt my scalp like this. Since i felt the cool breeze on my head and the top of my ears. It feels good to let go. Although i continue to habitually grab for ponytail as if i've lost a limb, the new look feels good. Hairy to baldy.
I only wish I could share a photo with some of my companeros that i haven't seen in a long time. But you know they are still looking for me hermanos and hermanas. The revolution we fought is long gone, but certainly not dead. It has returned in different forms and big brother is afraid. A scared dog bites. I don't want to get bitten. So imagine me from my preppy days long gone dear friends, minus the faggy penny loafers and polo shirts.
Hasta la victoria siempre