Life

The Barber’s Silence: A Haircut, Tolstoy’s Angel, and the Flow of Time

  Once I went to get a haircut, and when I saw the barber cutting my hair, I actually remembered a story about a cobbler written by Tolstoy.
  There is a cobbler in one of Tolstoy’s short stories, whose name I have forgotten. This cobbler was originally an angel and was demoted to the earth for committing sins in heaven. He fell naked in the mud and was found by an old cobbler passing by who took him in. After he recovered, he learned various crafts in the old cobbler’s shop and later became a cobbler.
  After several years of learning, the cobbler’s craftsmanship has surpassed that of the old cobbler. The old cobbler was also older, so most of the work in the shop was given to him, and he slowly became the best cobbler in the neighborhood. One day, a gentleman hunted a beautiful deer and planned to use the deerskin to make a pair of boots. He led some of his followers to the store and asked the cobbler to measure his feet and specify the style of the boots. After the master left, the cobbler immediately started cutting. Although the old cobbler handed over the main business to him, the old man’s boots were very important after all, so he watched him work from the side. When the cobbler was about halfway done, the old cobbler was horrified: Such a fatal mistake had never happened before! It turned out that the cobbler had cut the beautiful deerskin into a pair of slippers without heels. In Russia, this style of slippers is worn when the dead are buried. The old cobbler stopped immediately, but he didn’t stop as if he was deaf. At this moment, there was a loud noise of traffic outside the door, and the master’s entourage came angrily to inform that the boots he had just customized were changed to slippers because the master died when he entered the city gate.
  When the cobbler sewed the last stitch on the master’s slippers, his relegation to the human world ended. There was a beam of light in the sky passing through the roof, and fairy music sounded all around. It was time for him to return to heaven. The old cobbler saw his face clearly for the first time in several years. It turned out to be so bright and holy! He thanked the old cobbler for the first time in several years. The old cobbler said, “Wait a minute, can I ask you a question?” He nodded. The old cobbler asked: “When the master came to order boots, why did you decide to make them into slippers?”
  ”It’s very simple. A friend of mine named Death was hanging among the master’s entourage. He said hello to me. , I knew the master’s time had come.”
  This is Tolstoy’s story about the cobbler.
  What is the relationship between a cobbler and a barber?
  Well, the barber who cut my hair was not a fictional character written by Tolstoy, but a real person from my neighborhood. The barber is a middle-aged woman who has opened a family barber shop next to the Triangle Park for more than ten years. When I asked her to get a haircut more than ten years ago, her young children were still in their infancy, and sometimes she had to stop work to take care of their children; now, her youngest child has gone to vocational high school, and the eldest child is already preparing to become a Soldiers. Her craftsmanship has not improved at all in more than ten years, and the environment of the barber shop has not improved significantly. But I have no better choice, so I have to be her customer for a long time.
  Her advantage is that she doesn’t like to talk much. Clumsy craftsmanship can often be explained as a by-product of an honest and reliable character, so there is nothing I cannot tolerate. In a flashy city, silence and clumsiness are sometimes cherished.
  That day, I was waiting in her small barber shop. She was cutting a haircut for a man who, judging from his hair and face, was gradually moving from middle age to old age, while a drug advertisement was playing on the radio in Hokkien. The middle-aged and elderly customer said: “Hey, look at this hair, boss lady, it was you who cut my hair from black to white!”
  The barber smiled and said nothing, and the customer continued: “This is how it goes. , I’m afraid it won’t be long – but, boss lady, you don’t understand.”
  But I noticed the hidden wisdom of this barber, saying that she didn’t understand, actually she understood better than anyone else. She is a bit like the cobbler in Tolstoy’s novel. The cobbler made countless shoes and finally understood the true meaning of life; the barber cut many people’s hair and cut countless black hair into white hair, and of course he also understood the meaning of life. However, the cobbler described by Tolstoy is the incarnation of an angel. He can actually know all the truths of the world without experience. But what about the barber?
  After the customer left, the barber motioned for me to sit on the still warm chair. She cut off my hair at the temples, and the hair fell on the white scarf. I looked carefully and saw that there were already many strands shining with silver. I looked at the hairdresser in the mirror, and she happened to be looking at me too, with a comforting and a little weird smile on her face. At this time, I suddenly felt that she was like the cobbler in Tolstoy’s novel. As long as she cuts her hair, she has completed her relegation in the world and will fly to a country I don’t know at any time.

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