Un'dye'ing spirit

You either grey early or you do not it is just a genetic lottery.

When I ran into my classmate after a gap of 25 years, she had fashionable streaks of gold in her stylishly cut brown hair. She, in turn, zeroed in on my crowning glory with the informality of someone who knows she can. Closely examining my strands against the sunlight, she asked : “Amazing ! How did you manage this miracle ? Some jadooi jaribooti (magical herbs)?”

I hadn’t realised that in this day and age, a person in her early forties with a natural mop of black hair sans ‘colourful’ intervention is a rarity. Greying late is a family trait, I guess. “Treat your hair like you would a living being”, my aunts would admonish us as children. Inspired by our favourite fairy tales, my cousins and I had been trying to emulate the ‘100-brush-strokes before bed-time’ theory. Our icons were Goldilocks with her vivid-hued hair and Rapunzel, whose major claim to fame was her long, rope-like tresses. On our mothers’ insistence, however, we threw out the hair-brush and simply plaited our hair at bed-time. “Oil your hair. Keep it tangle-free. Use minimal shampoo. Don’t interfere with Nature”, were the staccato instructions we were repeatedly given.

A strong-smelling potion that my mother prepared for us contained curry leaves and rice grains heated in coconut oil. The charred remains settled at the bottom of the bottle and lent the oil a sooty colour. It was meant to be rubbed in gently into the scalp prior to a shampoo. During occasional bursts of energy, I concocted this elixir myself, only to have it end up as an ornament on the bathroom shelves. One might just as well stick to clear coconut oil and let it seep into the scalp for a couple of hours. I know of folks who have used olive, mustard, sunflower, castor and sesame oil with good results too. Or no oil, for that matter. You either grey early or you do not – it is just a genetic lottery.

A colleague who had turned quite grey since our last encounter two months ago proclaimed : “After three decades of hair dye – freedom at last !” I can imagine the expense, effort and endurance involved in maintaining her glamorous auburn colour. She looked more relaxed with the salt and pepper bob.

I recently noticed a few silver flecks at my temples. I welcomed them with the excitement of someone who has been waiting for a long time. I am now at an age when I do not have to dye my hair to prove that I am younger than I actually am. I also get the feeling that people are more receptive to suggestions from grey-haired people. At the workplace, I am at a stage when silver hair is likely to be seen as ‘distinguished’ on me. The only one I cannot impress is my pet dog JoJo – he’s always been white-haired, you see !

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