Bald Me

Photos by Wuan.

It was a sunny morning last Saturday. The time had arrived for me to make good my pledge to the Hair For Hospice campaign. Wuan helped me into the barber shop. As soon as Thanabalan the barber turned on the electric shaver, the monotonous whirring sound stabbed me with a deep sense of an impending loss. Finally, the hair that I had came to love and preened for more than three years would be shorn off, bit by bit, until there was none. Images of the times when Mum had lovingly gathered them all together and made a pony tail swirled in my head. That was eight years ago. I had kept it long then but decided to cut it off for reasons I am unable to recall now. This time, I kept it even longer, to remind me of those times. It was coming off, all of it. For a few minutes, as Thanabalan was busy with his shaver on my scalp, I sat there silent and disconsolate. A part of me, my link to the past and to Mum, was being taken away from me, and I willingly allowed it.

Photos by Wuan.

Before long, all of it came off, including the ponytail that was shorn right off my scalp. Wuan held it up. For a moment, she stood there like a victorious headhunter with her prized scalp skinned off the warrior of an enemy tribe. I looked at her blankly. Another chapter of my life had come to a close. The long mane that I had lovingly washed and conditioned and combed has been stripped off me. I felt naked without the flowing hair covering parts of me. Another chapter has begun. I wondered what Mum would have said had she seen me that day.

Photos by Wuan.

Where I sat, there was no mirror, not that I wanted to see how I looked without a headful of hair. It felt weird. It felt cool. It felt light. Thanabalan took out the razor and proceeded to make it a clean shave. The rude scraping sounds as the sharp blade moved against the stubbles made me cringe. The last time I was partially shaved clean was when the neurosurgeon wanted to screw a pair of tongs for the skull traction. It was to release the compression of the fractured spine against the spinal cord. That did not work after seven weeks. I had to undergo surgery to remove the bone fragment and set the displaced vertebras right. My fifth and sixth cervical vertebras were fused together for added stability. The scars were still there after twenty one long years. Those were grim reminders of a time when I was carefree and careless. I reached out to the sides of my head and touched them. The scars were deeper than I had expected.

Photos by Wuan.

Within half and hour, it was all gone, the hair that had been part of me for many years. I looked at Wuan. She smiled back. I touched my now bald head. It was an uncanny sensation. The feeling of loss was even greater but there was also a sense of accomplishment. Surprisingly, I felt contented when Thanabalan made the last shave with the razor; certain that the money raised will be put to good use; certain that a handful of people out there will be able to get the palliative care to ease their momentary sufferings here; certain that Mum would have approved of this and would have encouraged me. That was what I had wanted to do since more than two years ago. I have done it. I am thankful. This is for you Mum!

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

47 thoughts on “Bald Me”

  1. We built upon our past to make our future. Let’s hope it’ll be a good one. 🙂

    On a side note, I’m sure your head moves a little faster now when you turn left or right 😛

  2. Dee,
    You too. I am glad to have known you.

    I may just keep my head bald from now on.

    That is an observation based on principles of physics or just something you conjured up?

    You were jealous of my long hair, admit it!


    That was the handle off the razor.

  3. Heheh.. you look exactly like how you were photoshopped… great job man… oh by the way… you might want to get a headband…. sweat on a bald head roll down faster than a bullet train. You will feel extra cool or winterry cold depending on where you are. No more hair to keep you warm. I think the top of your head now feel a bit soft.. very nui nui one right?

  4. do you HAVE to do it during the holidays?

    wah… i missed it.. but now look almost the freaking same as the one photoshopped. although more hensem a bit lar…. 🙂

  5. i’m sure your mum will approve of what you’re doing. and she’ll definitely be proud of you 🙂

    now, remember, keep your armpit hairs long ah…*wink* -niak niak niak- (evil laugh)


  6. Bravo Peter. The new look seems better! 🙂 Maybe we should give you a new nick. Any idea boys and girls? hehe….

    All the best and regards.

  7. weh weh looks so chun la~ can i kiss your head also when we meet *eyes blink blink*??? hehehee 😀 Try use scarf peter, square one but fold half into triangle shape and tie on your head. it helps absorb sweat, protects the head and also makes you look real coooool!! “hansemly sat sei yan ahh…” hahaa another significant trademark on the go 😉

  8. Say hello to our new Peter “Kojak” Tan. Hey, you look very “fresh” without hair.

  9. peter, i followed a link from the Xaverian Despatch. Your story brought me to tears. My wife has Stage IV Cancer, and when she went for her brain surgery I shaved my head to be one with her. It’s been almost a year and I still spot the same look as her hair has not managed to grow back much. I will probably keep this style as a tribute to her and her struggle each and every day. God bless you Peter for thinking of others and this wonderful you’ve done. I will keep you in my prayers as I hope you will keep us in yours.

  10. wah!!! after seeing those who had gone bald for this good cause, i have to admit you ALL look good with this new look. 🙂

    syabas to all of you, indeed you all have a heart of gold.

    God bless you all, always. *hugs*

  11. You remind me, for some reason, of X-Men… ohh… that’s insensitive of me. But the guy-with-the-wheelchair in X-Men was cool. And smart. But had freaky brain powers, but otherwise cool…

  12. Bryan,
    Mid-thirties, late-thirties, not much difference lar.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, depends on how you see it, my body cannot sweat anymore, due to my injury.

    Sure or not?

    I cannot grow a decent moustache, let alone a beard.

    Next time I will remember to do it after the holidays.

    Please go love someone else. They way you said it scares me.

    Thank you.

    Wait till you see me close up.

    Like I said before, you do I do. How?

    I would like to be known as Peter… thank you.

    Do I get a date with you?

    Me cannot sweat anymore.

    You can kiss my head if you do not mind the stubbles.

    Is that good or bad?

    You shave what I shave what. On? No Lau Fu Tze comics. I used to have a collection of those.

    Drama Queen,
    Thank you.

    Caaaaan… Anytime.

    We knew that a long time ago already, no?

    I feel fresh too!

    Thank you.

    I want to see you bald too!

    I forgot to bring my sunglasses. I think i would have looked mean with a pair.

    Thank you.

    Fat Cat Lim,
    Thanks. 😀


    Rest assured, you two will always be in my prayers. Be strong. Take care.

    Thanks. Hugs.

    I am only doing what I can.

    Zara’s mama,
    Not to forget the money spent on conditioners.

    I wont be able to let loose my hair while riding a bike for a long time. 😛

    I wish I can save the world like the X-men too.

  13. Hello Peter. I write to salute you on your sacrifice and determination and faith. Your mom would have been proud. When I first visited your blog and saw your photo there was a flash of recognition. But for the good of me I can’t remember when and where we have met before.

    It is a sad but it will be along time before Malaysians recognise and respect such things as Disabled Toilets. But with people like you, Peter it will be a shorter journey. Thank you.

  14. Hey it’s really great of you to raise funds for a good cause. Well, just wanna say u’ve done a great job and it’s nice to see good deeds being done in this crazy times. i’ve never met u b4 but i really think you do have a heart of gold. Maybe one day when i go to M’sia ( i’m from Singapore), i’ll be able to ask u out for a coffee eh. Even though im not a Christian, i do pray that u be well and may ur mum be blessed always in the other world. Ur acts are truly touching.We need more ppl like u eh~
    Take care then. 🙂

  15. I didn’t get to meet the long-hair-peter b4 u shaved! ARGH!
    but u still look great anyway.. hehe..
    good job mate! i salute you~~

  16. At last I looked into your site and saw you in your shorn glory! Hope all goes well with you in KL

  17. Patrick,
    As for my hair, it was something that I needed to do. I am glad it was for good cause that had touched me and one that I believe in. Which photo gave you that deja vu feeling? The bald one or the full head of hair? Maybe we have met before somewhere? Accessible toilets is also one issue I feel strongly for because I spend a good 20% to 30% of my time out looking for one that is usable and clean.I hope it is a short journey but it is not, really. Thank you anyway.

    Please do look me up when you are in KL or Penang. Friends – I can never get enough of. You have a good day.

    Never again will you see me with hair that long. 😛

    Wan Fong,
    It was a mixture of sadness and happiness to lose those hair. Yes, I am coping well here. Peace be with you.

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