Prerna Katyal grew up listening to stories about her paternal grandmother from her parents. Her grandma, who lost a three-year battle with cancer, passed away when Prerna was in kindergarten. While Prerna could never really get to know her grandma in person as an adult, she made it a point to follow the latter’s path of empowerment and made choices that she is proud of today.
Prerna Katyal shares with SheThePeople why she chose to go bald in order to pay a tribute to not just her grandma but millions of cancer patients, and how contributing one’s bit with honest intentions can help forge a path of positivity and inspiration in this world.
Prerna Katyal’s story
“I was in kindergarten when I lost my Daadi due to cancer after fighting for 3-year-long. I never got a chance to bond with her but listening to her stories from Mom and Dad, she seemed to be there all along. An inspiration in herself, she fought her way to get an education and later built a temple to tutor underprivileged girls.
I, too, wanted to do something meaningful in my life and pay Daadi a tribute. I developed this urge to donate my hair in my early teens when my friend told me about the “Cope with Cancer” organisation which makes free wigs for cancer patients. I made sure they were legit and once I was convinced, a whisper came from inside ‘This is it!’
I had never thought of when I wanted to do this, until one day while my mom and I were chatting over a call, she kept going about my birthday plans. She assumed I was upset over something so to cheer me up she joyously said, ‘My Baby girl is turning 26 on the 26th! Lots of love.’ I decided to shave my head on my 26th birthday! A perfect birthday plan indeed.
A day before, on the 25th, I went to my favourite place on the planet, Rishikesh!
On my birthday, I woke up early and went to the Ganga ghat with my friend. I sat in front of a random barber, and said, ‘Uncle, Ganja kar do’. He thought it was a prank so he confirmed ‘Beta, Sure ho na?’. We exchanged smiles and he ran his scissors over my tresses! As the cool breeze kissed my shaved head, it was like Daadi’s touch. The moment he chopped my hair, I had tears of joy. It was the purest feeling I have experienced.
I took the most refreshing bath in Ganga Ji and got on a video call with mom and dad right after. Dad said, ‘Ye kaunsa filter laga lia?’ I chuckled. They were shocked and speechless when I got home. They weren’t all ears but respected my decision after all. We went to the temple the next day, with the hair to seek blessings and finally donated the hair. People had mixed reactions. Some said ‘Who will marry her now?’ Some said ‘She’s gone crazy’. Mom said ‘Gudiya, this style brings out your best features’.
Well, I just did what I felt was right & don’t regret it. Will I do it again? ‘Absolutely yes!’
I’m in love with myself like never before!”
As narrated by Prerna Katyal to Bhavika, Team SheThePeople
Suggested reading: Amazon Director Meghna Apparao On #BaldForACause, Gender Balance