It was after the Cricket World Cup of 1999 that I began to be fond of bald head as a fashion. Quite a few good reasons behind that. I was expecting myself to be bald by the time I reach the right age. My Achan is bald. My Maman is bald. So the genes had it enough in them to go barren at the top at the appropriate time. But the immediate reason for me to develop a liking for baldness at the age of sixteen or seventeen, when most teenagers my age go for spikes or ponytails was Herschelle Gibbs. Like Gibbs, I always used to field at the point while playing cricket. And the story of Steve Waugh’s dropped catch at the Super Six round of the 99 World Cup which turned poor Gibbs into some kind of tragic loser, made my sympathies go all out with him. Poor guy, like me, he fields at point, has taken some blinders, but dropped some sitters too. Perfectly in sync with my stature in field. So every time I used to see him in the field, during and after the 99 World Cup, my hands clapped for him. The sight of him prowling the field with his clean shaven head fascinated me so much that every vacation I made sure I got rid of my tresses just to make sure that my fielding at point matched cent percent with Gibbs.
Time passed. Back to Kerala after out in the wilderness of Coimbatore and Bangalore, I started noticing that the locks were not the same again. Slowly but surely, there was a gradual deforestation going on in the tropical jungle that was my head. Nothing to be bothered much, as I said earlier; I was only expecting it to happen later, rather than sooner.
My wife, soon after marriage did not seem too bothered about my ever shrinking hairline. Me too. All around me, I could find my friends on the lookout for irrelevant remedies to find a solution to what they felt was the biggest problems of their lives. Imagine, guys in their late twenties looking for unworkable solutions to a asinine problem when there are better things in life to be bothered about.
All changed soon after. I and wife were just visiting the regular Onam Exhibition stall at Kannur. Quite unexpectedly, after passing by a stall which I had ignored, I overheard the salesman calling out to me: “Sir, why don’t you try this? You look like the perfect person who would need this!”
Rather indifferently, I turned back and checked what it was. It was some kind of a kick in the teeth for me when I saw what he was selling. It was anti-balding oil. There were quite a few people around who had overheard his question to me, and my wife could not stop laughing at this. I was trying hard to hide the embarrassment that I had suddenly gone through, and pulling myself across, I went over to him, no questions asked, I bought the thing. Rupees Hundred spent on diminutive measure.
Back home, I looked at the bottle of Agastya Hair Oil I had bought. With it the sudden realisation that maybe there was a deterrent to the impending baldness. Add to that the sudden fear of the approaching hairlessness.
From that day onwards, right till today, it has been a period of trial and error, where I have tried different brands and varieties of creams and oils.
Right after Agastya, which I found ineffective after some time, I skipped to some cream from Dabur. It was going on well for some time, when the latest trend called Indulekha came in. Suddenly I could find all popular film stars endorsing this once with the promise of afforestation in six weeks. Nice to hear. Nice to try. Except that each time I went to buy, it would burn a hole in my pocket.
It started off well, which too also turned out to be a dud. The initial hoopla over, I soon realised that all what was shown on TV was just maya.
I did a brand switch once again – this time to Dhathri. Maybe Anoop Menon was having too much influence on me. Otherwise how would I again fall for a hair oil just because he says on TV – “What would happen in six weeks?”
There was no change in the results. I realised that I was doing a futile attempt to wage a battle against genealogy and pedigree. And with the dawn of this realisation, it was a return to my fondness for baldness that was there in my late teens. No, it was not Gibbs again, but the Fahad Fazil factor. After seeing him in movies, bald head was suddenly becoming a fashion trend in Kerala.
In the end, it does not matter. Hair or no hair, bald or not bald, each style has its soft spot. As somebody once said, “There’s one thing about baldness, it’s neat.”