Saturday, April 11, 2009

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GLORY UNCROWNED Bald And Beautiful
9 Apr 2009, 0010 hrs IST, Skand Shukla
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Those were dreadful days. My eyes inevitably turned towards the bathroom floor, the towel and the comb to see how many had been lost. Still in my mid-twenties, the thought of going bald was nightmarish. All tricks were tried to retrieve every lost hair getting tonsured during monsoon; applying exotic oils, henna, egg-yolk; washing hair with all sorts of things like reetha, shikakai, lemon-juice and cleverly advertised shampoos with bewildering ingredients actually, almost anything anybody suggested. The barber was asked not to massage one's head too strongly lest the endangered species fell faster. A comb was a must in the back pocket to straighten any strand gone awry, lest a bald patch was revealed to unknowing classmates, girls in particular. New styles of combing hair were devised to cover the sparse spots. Medications were sought to bring back my lost glory. Even the promise that a particular medicine would not grow the hair already lost, but retain what remained, was music to my ears and raised my dampened spirits. What bouts of envy were endured whenever someone with dense foliage was seen! How small one felt when someone taller stood by one's side! For he could certainly see my balding pate. But with time, as my hairline receded further, it was no longer a secret. I approached my late twenties and then, even my family started expressing concern. Who would marry a bald man, they started thinking.
         I, on the other hand, turned to cultivating a sense of stoic resignation to the inevitable. Beliefs like a bald person is blessed with riches, his personality manifests maturity and intelligence, he need not trouble over greying hair, and that God hid with hair the heads he didn't like were held strongly to maintain a confident self amidst those copiously gifted with plumage. They are things of the past. I don't look down on the bathroom floor, on the towel and the comb now. No hair can be found on them because none are left on my head to fall. I still have one problem, though. When washing my face it is difficult to know where the forehead ends and the head begins.

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