AND THEN I BECAME BALD
I don’t remember when it happened. It was so subtle, strand by strand, hair by hair, and then, there was nothing. In case you are still wondering about what I am talking about, I do not blame you. It happened to me also, I did not realize what was happening. I still cannot say when I became bald, but now I know I am.
Once upon a time there was a clean-shaven youth with a crop of luxuriant hair on his head. And that was the face his wife saw before she married him. All earlier attempts to grow some hair above his upper lip were shot down by a glance of disapproval from his mother, after all how could a boy from an orthodox brahmin family grow a moustache. If he had been born in an earlier era he would have been forced to shave the front half of his head with long tresses of hair at the back rolled up to a knot ubiquitously called ‘Kudumi’ and the three horizontal lines of the sacred ash ‘Vibhuti’ spread across his forehead. Well I guess I was lucky I missed that era.
Remember the Rishis of yore who never had the time to crop the hair on their head or face as they were deeply immersed in penance. Of course, that did not stop the scantily clad Apsaras from dancing in front of them and upsetting their spiritual quests (pardon me for any blasphemy on my part, but that is not my fault for I have grown up watching all those mythological films and led to believe that was how things were in the realm of the Gods, Devas, Rishis and the Kings who always seemed to hold court to the swaying of the dancing girls). And then there were the monks with not a hair on their heads also on a spiritual quest. I then understood that the quest for spiritual enlightenment was all about hair, with or without.
There was a time when premature baldness was the subject of ridicule until a smart bald man came up with the catch phrase ‘Bald is Beautiful’. Those were the days when ‘Bold and the Beautiful’ was being aired on the television. While this was catching on I came upon an article about five years ago which reaffirmed my belief that baldness is not only beautiful but also sexy (you can very well imagine why). I quote the first few lines and that was enough and I did not proceed further for fear of finding something to the contrary –
“Think of Bruce Willis, Andre Agassi or Michael Jordan, and you’ve got three famously strong, masculine men with plenty of female fans. They also have something else in common: they’re bald.
It’s often said that bald men are more virile. The popular theory is that they have higher levels of the male hormone testosterone, which makes them more masculine and increases their sex drive, but they lose their hair at a younger age than average as a result. The truth, though, is a little more complex.”
Since it said the truth was a little more complex I did not proceed further. I did no further research and since that day I have had long conversations with my beard while gently caressing my pate late into the night.
But of late when I go out shopping, to movies, to parties or just a stroll, I find Rishis and Monks (with finely chiseled French Beards) once again, and of course the Apsaras are there.
It all happened one fine (?) day ten years ago when I was in Mumbai. I have always been proud of my beard, so I thought keeping him good shape would contribute to my well being both physically and mentally (yes, I would keep worrying when the remaining strands on my head would disappear). I bought myself a beard trimmer and proceeded to ensure that he had a decent and uniform growth (nothing like the Rishis whose beards looked unkempt and unwashed). Well I did succeed for he looked real smart – uniform and the right length as desired by me. Happy that the trimmer had done a fine job I cleaned it by brushing off the remaining strands of hair on it and kept it aside. It was only when I looked in the mirror to admire my well groomed facial hair that I noticed the uneven growth of hair on my head (at that time I did have some noticeable growth on the sides and the back of my head: I still do, but to a much lesser extent). To set this right I picked up the trimmer and ran it through those portions I felt were not uniform. After the first run I noticed to my horror that there was a patch of ‘no hair’. In my hurry I had forgotten to clip back the depth adjustment cutter on the trimmer. I now had no option but to run the trimmer as it was, through the remaining hair on my head. And that was when I first became completely bald. Of course, when I came out of the bathroom, my wife had a curious look on her face which did not need any words to translate “So where has all the hair on the head gone?”
You see I had long ago made a compromise in my spiritual quest (Whisky or Old Monk) and took the mid-path to realization by becoming half a Rishi and half a Monk. So, what would you call me now – Rishimon or Monkrish? I wouldn’t mind for now I am at spiritually elevated levels only three pegs down.