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A hair-raising problem

A hair-raising problem
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K S S Pillai

At present, an agitation is going on in several parts of the country for and against a girl student wearing a scarf that covers her head and the upper parts of her body. I suspect manufacturers of hair tonics must be behind those who oppose the use of scarves.

The demand for lipsticks is already on the wane with governments making it compulsory for people to wear masks in public places. If women start going out covering their entire body with a purdah, who would go for beauty products? Men would, of course, be happy, as they won’t be required to spend on expensive beauty products, and their women would spend less time before dressing tables.

Right from ancient times, thick, long, black hair has been considered an essential part of a woman’s beauty. Poets have written pages on the topic. In televised interviews, women are seen brushing away the invading strands of hair from their faces every few seconds. Those with long hair would exhibit their asset by allowing it to fall freely on their back.

Men are no different from women in wishing to have thick hair on their heads. They are worried when their hairline starts receding, leaving fewer and fewer hair on their scalps. As a consequence, experts have come up everywhere offering transplanting of hair on fallow scalps.

There are also several hair tonics available in the market that assure lustrous growth of hair. They even warn the customers not to spill the contents on their hands or other parts of the body as thick hair would start growing there. The other day I saw a bald shopkeeper selling such a bottle of hair oil to a customer who was so intent on the wonder oil that he did not notice the bald head of the seller.

Losing hair is usually a function of genetics or ageing. There is a mention of hair loss even in the Holy Bible. Leviticus 13: 40-41 states: “A man has lost his hair and he is bald, he is clean.” Baldness was seen in ancient Egypt as a sign of being cursed by the gods, and suffering from hair loss was seen as a punishment for immorality.

Greek soldiers during the reign of Alexander the Great were ordered to shave their heads as a defensive measure to stop the enemies from grabbing their hair in hand-to-hand combats. Since then a shaved head has become a symbol of aggression and toughness.

There was a time when few women would agree to act in a play. The organizers would then use male actors to act as females and dress them accordingly. Wigs were essential parts of the make-up. Men with sparse or no hair now copy the idea and address their problem by using wigs. They simply have to be careful that the wigs remain in place and do not come off, causing embarrassment. I have often wondered seeing people with sparse hair suddenly donning thick black hair. It has taken some time for me to realise the secret of their black hair.

Premature greying is another problem faced by both men and women. Luckily, it has now a remedy in the form of dyes of desired hues easily available in the market. I know some people who had grey hair even as children now having jet black hair. Beauty parlors are also there to attend to this need of their customers. The cat comes out of the bag after a couple of days when the roots of their hair appear white while the remaining portion remains black.

When nature in a naughty mood bestows some men with sparse hair on their heads while leaving their face with lustrous hair, the victims highlight their beards painstakingly. They hope people’s attention won’t go further upwards. Others solve the problem of grey hair on their face by having a daily shave.

(The author is a retired professor of English. A regular contributor to ‘Kashmir Vision’, his articles and short stories have appeared in several national and international publications)

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