I have about 10 grey hair in and around the middle of my head. When I say 10, I mean they are the only ones I can see. I don’t know if I have some others hiding somewhere else on my head (sniffles). But lets just talk about the 10 that I know of.
I still remember the first time I became aware of them. A colleague at work joked about spotting one and I could not accept that I had grey hair already (I was 23 back then and had always kept my long hair loose even at work. Yes, I was proud of my hair).
So he plucked it out of my head for me to see it, right before all my other colleagues, and I shrieked out so loud at the sight of it that my boss came running out of his cabin to see what the brouhaha was about. When he was told, he merely smirked and lowered down his own salt and pepper head to my eye-level and told me, ‘See that? I had all this when I was only 18. What’s the big deal? It’s only hair!’
It’s only hair!
It’s only hair!
It’s only hair, dammit!
I’d like to say that the statement stuck with me. I went back home that night and preened at my scalp, and I repeated it like a litany, ‘it’s only hair… it’s only hair’. But then I found one, then two, then three, then four and then five grey hair. By then I was freaking out like a beauty queen freaks out about a pimple on the night of the beauty pageant. I swore at the statement, swore at my boss, and promptly grabbed a pair of scissors and cut them real short, in some cases cutting out the surrounding black ones too, so that when they all started to grow back, those hair would stick out of my head like a porcupine’s needles. Ugh! Talk about a double whammy!
Ever since then I have been periodically trimming those grey hair out of my head, occasionally even enlisting the help of my hapless husband who, as retribution for being employed in a boring chore, was happy enough to chop down entire clumps of good hair too. Their numbers gradually increased from 5 to 10, but by then I had stopped worrying, partially because they were all invisible to outsiders. But a few days ago came the real shocker which prompted me to write this piece down.
I was getting dressed for some occasion when I noticed something silvery around my left temple. Unfortunately for me the light at the time made the hair glint in such a way that it really did look like my hair had grayed around there. Involuntarily, I froze before the mirror.
Oh shit! This was the real deal!
Having grey hair in the middle of the head is one thing but having them at a place where everyone can see them is… a whole new level of growing old. I was officially graying, or so I thought at the time. And I was Diwali-ka-kantar-bomb-wala-shocked (shell shocked, for those who don’t know Hindi)!
I suddenly realized that it had already been a decade since that incident at work. Had it really been 10 years since my 5 grew to 10 to this graying at the temple? Why was I so afraid of only grey hair? I mean, in those 10 years my age has grown too, my skin has become less supple, I have not-the-cute-kind-of-crinkles around my eyes, I’ve developed laugh lines around my mouth, I’ve become slower (god, have I become slower), and worse still, my clothing size has changed too, thrice! Why did none of those make me feel old, but this did?
It’s only hair!
It’s only hair!
But it’s not!
It’s what they represent. The finiteness of our lives and that we’re getting closer to the finish line.
The next day showed me that fate was playing a cruel game with me. One day I feel old, the next day I feel relieved that it was only a play of light. The hair were still dark. But I questioned myself, ‘For how long? There will come a day when all of them will be one or several shades of white or grey. It’s only a matter of time, ol’ girl‘.
Okay, this is going to be pretty depressing for a bit now, but come to think of it, a lot of things in our lives are a matter of time. We all come with only a finite amount of time in our hand. The clock keeps ticking and we keep getting older by the minute. We’re so engrossed in our everyday chores and work that we fail to realise, until moments like these arrive, that we have only that many years left.
I think what shocked me was the realization that age was finally catching up with me. People keep saying ‘age is only a number’. Well, in some ways it is, in some ways it isn’t. To the man who is only 32 or 43 maybe the number of his years will not matter, but to an 80 year old man who’s hooked to an IV in the ICU battling for every breath he takes, age is a HUGE thing. To a doctor who’s treating disaster or trauma cases, age is an important factor to decide which patients can recover and which patients are beyond his help.
Age is not just a number, it’s a reminder that we are mortals. It eggs us onto take reign of our lives and do what matters to us. After one point in our lives we must realise that it isn’t about earning money but spending it too, and that some days, those who we earn for need our time more than our money.
In case you’re wondering what’s the point to this blog-post, it’s this. It’s my birthday today. My 32nd to be precise (I’m so daft I’ve been telling folks for the past one year that I was 32 and I believed I was going to be 33 this 2nd of August. Maybe age really is catching up with me). In a decade I will officially be in my middle ages. I have already become an aunty-ji to several kids (including *gasps* teenagers). It’s only a matter of time when I become a matron too.
But that incident with the grey hair at the temple taught me a few things –
Aging is inevitable.
I have to learn to live and thrive inspite of it.
It’s just hair, but age is not just a number.
So this birthday, I’ll gift myself the permission to freak out about my hair graying, but at the same time, to teach myself to gear up for obvious eventualities. But the real gift, I’m gifting myself, is that I’m freeing myself of fetters of conforming to things that don’t matter to me anymore, and go for things that I’ve always wanted to do. I’m never going to be 32 again. I’m never going to look like this again, au naturel, sans cakey makeup and weepy mascara.
I’m never going to be this full of energy. So why the heck should I wait for tomorrows when each day I age? I’ll plan, yes; I’ll save, sure, but not dwell on them and never only for my twilight years. I don’t know if I’ll live as long as 40 or 60 or 90. I don’t even know if my 40’s, 60’s or 90’s will have the whole of me anyway. Why not enjoy the whole of me right now, when I still have it with me, untouched by disease or other disabilities?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GIRL!
Eat your cake, twirl in that new dress, take silly selfies and the next day work out, and work your ass off on that one thing you’ve been wanting to accomplish.
‘REPEAT’ on an endless loop.
Oh, and don’t forget to spread smiles, love and cheer. The only things that linger in life are MEMORIES.
Make and gift as many as possible.
P.S. In case you need help with premature graying, Aaj Tak channel gives excellent quack remedies for it. Read about it here.
Copyright ©2017 Pradita Kapahi.
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Image Credits: Aaj Tak