Nothing can be more terrifying than the first discovery of a white hair in a full head of dark hairs. Or the discovery that the once luxuriant head of hair is losing large clumps to the drain at bath time. But as some wag put it, “Hair today and gone tomorrow”.
I was born with a full head of lovely curly hair which lasted until the age of 1, when it is traditional practice in most of
to shave off the baby hair. Through my early years, my mother took assiduous care of it, oiling and shampooing, combing and braiding within an inch of my life. It grew and grew, becoming my crowning glory, a la Rapunzel. India
Unfortunately, the glory started to wane when I hit the high school years. My mother bewailed the start of the loss with “It seems to happen to all good students- the head heats up with increased brain activity.” Consolation theory, at least for me, for I could delight in the fact that my examination marks increased in proportion for every strand of hair lost. Had I thought about it, I could have qualified for an early Ph.D, based on studies turning the formula :
H = kG/ Iⁿcf
Where H = Total current amount of hair
k = Median hair strands at birth for your ethnicity
I = IQ level measured at start of school years
n = Number of years of education
f = age in years
G = genetic factor
into a widely accepted law of Hairology.
Dandruff and scales hit as well, and we anxiously tried out every remedy to banish the pesky flakes from coal tar based shampoos to scary-sounding Ayurvedic potions like ‘Shivacharachooranam’ to white vinegar applications which left me smelling like a salad-All to no avail. I remember with incredulity a question from a kid about my hair when it was thicker "Do you use rabbit's blood on it to make it thick and shiny?" ( I should have taken that hint and tried that as well, except that rabbits were in rather thin supply where we lived!)
Now, with my much reduced rat's tail of a braid, I still resist all advice to restyle my hair to cover the thinning top. I've given up shampoos and hair dyes for fear of shortening my life from all those petrochemical based concoctions, endocrine disruptors and whatnots, thanks to assiduous googling and scaremongering articles on the internet. Nothing but plain old shikakai, vinegar and cooking oil for me!
As time goes by, I may even resort to the final solution: Cutting it all off for a short hair style, just my grandmother did when she was in her 70's and ended up looking remarkably stylish and contemporary, except for her old fashioned sari.