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Recently someone remarked on how alike we sisters looked. That’s not something new; we both do hear a lot of it from absolute strangers. Anyways, this particular gentleman after saying how the nose, lips, eyes, forehead, cheeks and also everything (now here is where I register a formal protest and insist that said gentleman visit an optometrist at the earliest) seemed ‘cast in a single mold’ went on to suggest that what would clinch the thing would be if I wore the same type of glasses like hers and also if I ‘gave a break to the hair dye’.

Whoa!

Give a break to the hair dye?

WHAT THE HELL.

Until unless he was the one who applied dye on my hair I don’t see how he can make the assertion. And believe me, he has NOT. So what makes him, a COMPLETE stranger at that, an authority on MY head of hair? Is it the fact that my sister has gray hair or that people of my age group mostly have dyed their hair black?

Ha, don’t I know the fixed belief we have: people in a certain age group ought to behave in such and such a manner, have only particular interests (You should have seen how an older cousin of mine by marriage indiscreetly laughed seeing me with a camera, and that was only a point and shoot one too; yup it seems interest in photography is ‘funny business’ for someone of ‘my age’ and especially ‘gender’ which he made clear when he said photography as a hobby would have been fine for a man, not for me), wear “age-appropriate” clothes, speak and carry yourself in a manner handed down to us via some stupid preconceived notions, cluck like hens around grown up children, have no life and not let others live…

And of course have gray hair suitably dyed black.

Like, really?!

What puzzles me is how people can ASSUME that my hair has been dyed black and matter-of-factly state so without knowing facts. Not that I have ANYTHING against people who dye their hair. YOUR hair, do with it as YOU please, is my live-and-let-live policy. Though it seems a remote possibility as of now, I myself might take to applying dye at some future date if I so fancy it. BUT I resent it when total strangers (and sometimes relatives and friends too) make ASSUMPTIONS here and now.

Some years back my sister introduced me to someone she knew. We were meeting for the first time. This is my elder sis, she told him. The man’s jaw dropped, but recovering quickly he said, “Oh she dyes her hair!” with the pleased look of someone who in the nick of time had easily cracked a difficult one.

Soon, I also realized that some among the general public were also unduly interested in my hair and its color. The hair on my temples has always been brown. I had to endure a lot of, “Oh your hair has started graying!” said with glee skilfully sugar-coated with concern. Well, to use a phrase that I happened to hear recently in a different context, I am no spring chicken. I recognize obvious glee even if it comes packaged as concern. What they did not know was that I have special ears to hear what goes unsaid, “Gotcha there. You Madamji, are coloring your hair to cover your grays and you thought we wouldn’t know!” A few times I tried to correct such people; I have always had this brown bunch of hair on either side of my head.

Why did I even bother, some of you might be thinking. No reason other than my inherent love for accuracy and nature of making things factually clear. But I gave up doing that. Some glints in some eyes can NEVER be erased whatever the truth may be. It is a fact of life that MOST people believe what they want to. It takes courage to get out of that scene. Tell me, how many have that courage?

Just a decade back, a pompous cousin of mine declared that it was impossible to believe that my hair was naturally black when my sister had begun graying. I wonder why he was addressing the question to me and not taking the matter up with his Maker. I mean, I am not the one who made the rules of graying or even the one who turned them topsy—turvy. Right? If not the Maker, he should have sought the help of science at least. Being still the goody-goody girl back then I did not give him any suitable reply. More’s the pity.

What took the cake was what came next. Some of the (female) residents of the colony started sounding the girl who came by to oil my hair and also apply mehendi. “Does she really have no gray hair at all?” they asked her referring to me. Yup, they had caught the right person to ask the question. I couldn’t hide my gray hair from someone who oiled my hair even if I so wished, could I? Indeed it was news to me that there existed ladies in my colony interested in getting insider-info regarding the color status of my hair. I mean what the heck is it to them anyway? Isn’t it enough that they pay attention to their own crowning glory and dye it in whichever shade they prefer it to be? How does my hair, gray or black, or multi-colored, affect them in anyway? Come to think of it, I have never once checked on whether they had dyed hair or naturally black hair. Why would I even want to know? We were certainly not competing for first place in any Who Has The Naturally Blackest Hair Of Them All event, were we?

Anyways, I have started feeling that now I should begin putting up bulletins on the status of my hair. So for the benefit of those whom curiosity is killing: Rejoice, though it may not be so evident as such, yes, I have started graying at the temples. As of now, at a conservative estimate, the salt is at approximately 5% as compared to 95% of pepper. It will not be long before they exchange places, but you gotta be patient till such time as they do. I certainly am not going to hurry things up. You can put in your efforts if you so wish. Just make sure I don’t turn the tables on you.

And now to the most important question of all: NO, I have NOT started using dye as yet. Rest assured when I do I will certainly send out a circulars, emails, post blogs on it, tweet and facebook it, publish the fact in the gazette and also take out ads in all the national dailies so everyone knows. May be I will also book a slot on TV to be aired midway through the dreadful soaps. Hmm… Or better still, I will go the old fashioned way, simply hire a mike and go cycling around the countryside announcing the fact to each and everyone. But till then kindly hold in your horses.

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