Sundays are meant to be spent relaxing. By which I mean sitting in the balcony reading the newspaper while enjoying delicious aloo parathas cooked by my lovely wife Preeti, topped off with home-made butter. Because what else does a man want but to eat aloo parathas in peace after a hard week’s work?
But clearly that is too much to ask. Just as I was about to sit for breakfast last weekend, mom came from her room and started rubbing something vigorously on my head. It smelt like a cockroach kept in deep freeze for a few weeks soaking in Lizol, mixed with the blood of a lizard, and made into a gooey chutney in the mixie.
“Oh my god, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I screamed, a bite of the aloo parantha still in my hand, the stench making me feel like I am inside the oral cavity of a cat.
“Relax, Bablu. This will make your hair grow back in two days.” She didn’t bat a whisker and kept rubbing the stinking concoction. I think a few drops dripped their way onto the parantha too but she showed no mercy. I still have no idea what that evil potion was made of.
It wasn’t always like this.
There was a time when I had lush black hair to which I would apply hair oil and spend hours tending to. I would carefully part them exactly one inch off center, just like Ajay Devgn from his early days. Even Preeti adored my hair back when we were dating and used to call me Sunny. Deol, boss. But then I started losing it. The hair, I meant. Hair today, gone tomorrow.
A man with a balding head is like an unmarried girl having trouble finding a nice gentleman husband. Public property. Everybody and their mother-in-law has a remedy to offer.
These days, every time I go to get a haircut, the dude at the salon looks at me with sympathetic eyes and asks me to get a “hair spa” done to rejuvenate the roots. Hair spa? One of these days I am going to ask him to do it for free if he feels so much sympathy for my condition.
Yesterday when I was parking the car after returning from work, one of the aunties accosted me. “Beta, you must apply fresh curd made of cow’s milk to your hair. If your hairs don’t come back within a week, I will change my name.” Her son has a long pony tail and arms hairy like King Kong so maybe the curd does work, but I’d rather put cucumber in it and make raita.
Even the dude who comes to wash the car every morning looked at me in dismay last week and said, “Sirjee, you should walk barefoot on grass every morning from 4.39am to 4.56am. Usse sab theek ho jayega.”
There are so many remedies out there that you wonder why so many people are becoming bald in their thirties these days, with this wealth of knowledge all around. Neem. Egg. Milk. Beer. If it is good for your stomach, it is good for your hair apparently. Funny then that no one has asked me to apply paneer tikka on my head. Maybe that day will also come. Also, beer? Boss, I only drink when I have to apply maska to my boss.
Ok, ok, don’t mind my poor jokes yaar. Please beer with me. Ha ha.
It is a good thing I got married when I still had lush vegetation. Imagine if I posted a profile on shaadi.com today, with a total of four dozen hair on my shiny head!
It is all around us. Open the newspaper and there will be insertions promoting the latest hair transplant clinic that offers to fix goat hair to your head if there isn’t enough of your own supply. Even when I open my email mailbox, there is invariably an email from Dr Kwatra’s clinic asking me to come to them for help. Boss, are you a hair doctor or a psychic? How do you know? It is uncanny.
Having tried most of the popular remedies, I have stopped caring, though my one worry is that when my son Yatharth grows up to realise that his father is a taklu, how will he take it? I fear the day when he asks me to not come to the parent-teacher meeting at school because, you know, you are not welcome hair.
The silver lining is that mom said that a balding head is a sign of impending riches, so I am patiently biding my time. Have you seen the price of onions these days?
Illustrations by: Abhijeet Kini
Atulya is the author of two books, his latest being a political satire titled Democrazy. He tweets as @amreekandesi
From HT Brunch, August 16
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