“There is only one cure for gray hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.” P.G.Wodehouse
The first few strands hardly created a ripple. Then came the next wave. It caught my friend’s attention as she kept giving me discreet glances during our customary walk. “You still have time – you don’t need to do anything now!” she said. I stared at her perplexed. What was she talking about? What on earth was I supposed to do or not do?
When my hair started graying my friends in the club started hounding me. At every party, they would discuss my apathy to camouflaging the gray strands.” My friend’s explanation caught me by surprise. I’d heard of peer pressure in schools, even colleges but this was certainly a first. Middle-aged women needing to color their hair in order to belong! My friend succumbed to the call of her sorority sisters. But when her husband too joined the fray by dyeing his hair jet black (a knee jerk reaction from male drumming circles) I threw my hands up in despair. What was happening to everybody around me?
Once the idea was planted in my head, I found myself paying more attention to everyone’s crowning glory. “Is there something on my hair?” my neighbor asked me belligerently when she noticed my eyes remain glued above her forehead. How could I tell her the real reason? I was having a hard time reconciling with her new black mane.
Unfortunately the disease had spread to my own family. My aunt whom I had always admired for her three-tiered look had become a brunette. Now I knew what a midlife crisis was. But the final straw was when I met my cousin after nearly a decade. When the fifty year old preened over her cascading black hair, I was impressed. “What brand do you use for colouring?” I blurted out. When she indignantly broke into a long-winded monologue about good genes and how hair dyes had never figured in her life, I seethed with jealousy.
I had to get away but little did I suspect that my usual refuge, the beauty parlour, would also offer no solace. “Madam, why are you not doing something?” the beautician would wail and moan dispiritedly, her sense of aesthetics greatly offended. Instead of plucking my eyebrows, she was busy clucking over the hair on my head. The sight of my gray strands brought her to the verge of tears.
“Why don’t you just take the plunge? What’s stopping you?” my friends asked. “What if I get a skin rash?” I retorted. “And if I start, there would be no end to it. I’ve got enough on my plate.” I thought I had put the whole thing behind me till I got an early birthday gift. The sender’s name was missing. My heart pounding with excitement I tore open the brightly coloured package. When I saw the bottle of hair dye I burst out laughing!
This article first appeared in the Sunday Herald.