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Might as well curl up and dye…

If there is anything that defines me, it’s angst. I think I was pretty much born an existentialist, if indeed an existentialist is someone who is a great deal afraid and anxious. I come to this conclusion because I now realise that I am a worry wart in denial, and that it is time to embrace that knowledge.

According to existential philosophy, angst is the dread caused by man’s awareness that his future is not determined but must be freely chosen. Can there be anything scarier than that? My earliest memories of angst-filled feelings include:

1. The fear of lighting matches and stoves. This is because I observed my mom turning on the gas and lighting a match. The resultant mild explosion with which the stove lit up did not faze my mom in the least, but I was struck with horror as I contemplated the consequences of doing this myself, and I worried about growing up and having to do these kinds of things too.

2. Watching my eldest sister going to college all by herself and travelling by bus and crossing roads and stuff. Oh the anxiety at ever having to cross a road and go to college! It was enough to make me never want to grow up.

3. Getting married. Would I ever find a man who was as lovely as my dad? I didn’t think so, and it made me as anxious as the female equivalent of Oedipus.

4. Observation (movies) and ill-informed discussions with the peer group revealed a whole bunch of facts about the birds and the bees, which opened up a whole new can of worms. The biggest question was ‘how’?? And the answers delighted and shocked and horrified all at the same time.

5. Giving birth, after watching melodramatic Indian movies that depicted women screaming and crying for mercy while in the throes of labour. How was I to wilfully put myself through that kind of inhuman pain and indignity?

No one could have guessed what a worried little child was. I always appeared happy-go-lucky. But I’m 37 years old now and still muddling my way through more confusion and angst. It never ends until it all ends doesn’t it. I did my worrying about death and lying in a grave and ceasing to exist altogether and am halfway over that now. Wrinkles, and getting fat and grey hair are the new death.

The first strand of white hair in the front of my head caught me by surprise. It was very noticeable in my shock of black hair, a fact that was pointed out to me repeatedly (as if I wasn’t all too aware of it already….silly people). Slowly and surely, the number of white strands started to multiply until it reached a point where I could no longer count them. My family puzzled over this, since I am the third in a line of four daughters, and my elder sisters did not have any gray in their hair AT ALL. Am I the runt of the litter? I joke and say that I think about stuff and have multitudinous subconscious worries, and this is why my hair is turning white, but it’s too true! This should be proof that I am not the blithe spirit everyone seems to think I am!

Maybe history is cruelly repeating itself, as my mother greyed the earliest in a family of eight siblings where she was the third daughter!

But apart from getting down to the bottom of the cause, I now had to worry about what to do with the rest of my life as far as my crowning glory was concerned and here were the options:

1. Should I be the cool arty type and go the Durriya Kazi way and wear lots of kajal in my eyes and don ethnic earrings to accompany a not-so-thick white braid?

2. Should I be funky and dye my hair indigo and crop it into a trendy bob to look post-modern?

3. Should I just let it be and age gracefully and stay myself without having to adopt an identity and make some kind of a statement?

Decisions, decisions. What path to choose? It isn’t easy to face the world when your hair betrays you. People’s eyes cannot help but flick upwards while conversing and I know they’re thinking what’s up with her hair? until they come right out and blurt it. ‘Why is your hair turning white?’, they ask simple-mindedly, as if there is a subversive reason. What do I tell them? That I am crushed by the angst of the living and my hair is beginning to reflect it? ‘Why don’t you dye it?’, say the fashionable lot for whom changing colours is not about hiding something but about novelty. Don’t they realise how vigilant you have to be to make sure the roots don’t show when the hair grows, and how frequently you need touch ups? It all reeks of unsustainability if you ask me.

‘Aap ke baal tou bilkul safed ho rahe hain’, says the girl who does my hair at a salon, as if I am struck by a terrible disease.

I stoically bear my cross and develop an attitude about my silvery streaks and people say I look stylish and glam…..but only if I make the effort and straighten it and style it and spend some time on it. If I don’t, I just look and feel like a hag. I know if I start using chemicals on my head I stand to lose not just lots of money but also lots of hair.

Life is so hard 😦

17 thoughts on “Might as well curl up and dye…

  1. hahahaha…..good show girl…..glad you decided to come out of the closet and embrace your true self…….:D

  2. Like the Funky indigo hair Idea :))
    waisay nothing in life causes more anxiety than hair problems
    coming from a guy who is told everyday “yaar tumhari to ganj ho rahi hai” I can totally relate and I am not even married yet sniff sniff 😦
    But I am a strong believer that what ever is meant to happen will happen no matter how much we plan and worry
    so just sit back and enjoy the ride that is life because worrying will not make it any easier πŸ™‚

    1. hammad…if you can sit back and not worry about life as it happens and the decisions that we make of our own free will without a clear understanding of good and bad or right and wrong, you are truly a blessed soul and i envy you.

  3. Truly terrific read.Well worded, sensitive, brutally honest ( i seriously don’t know how you do it )and so current and identifiable. Loved reading it just like i love reading everything you post…go on writing mun…you have a talent there girl!!!

  4. Really nice read. First time visiting your site and really enjoyed it.
    for me its in my genes, the family is grey, so by 20 I had some Greys greys and now at 35 you wouldve been able to spot the greys from a mile away, but thanks to dying and my hair being hidden under my scarf, if safe from the public eye. lol πŸ™‚

  5. This was a very good read again, Munira. Thank you very much for writing about angst with such honesty. I ask myself now, what exactly causes me angst. Maybe I should try to write a blog about it.

    My three daughters all dye their hair and have been doing so for some time. They don’t seem to be concerned about the chemicals in the dye. They all started greying at an early age. Whereas I had hardly any grey in my hair till I was in my seventies. One of my daughters noticed the other day that there’s now quite a bit more grey in my hair. She’s extremely worried about this. ‘Mum, why don’t you dye your hair?’ She just cannot understand that it doesn’t worry me at all!

    1. I think you must truly be a very blithe spirit for having to think about what causes you angst Aunty Uta πŸ™‚
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, thank you for visiting it, because of you I got to read it again too, and I had a good laugh over it, considering I’m STILL obsessed with what to do with my hair one and a half years later! And I have so much more white hair now 😐
      I think I used to be more open and honest when I started out with this blog of mine…now I feel more inhibited and private, which is why you may have noticed that I don’t post so frequently anymore. I hate this. I want to be able to write freely again!

  6. To tell you the truth, Munira, there are far too many things which caused me angst in the past and sometimes still cause me angst now. Actually I often feel to be socially at a disadvantage. Of course I try to cover it up.Then feelings of not wanting to pretend that I am something which I am not may interfere. You see, it’s rather complicated.
    Strangely enough, I was never afraid of the more natural things, such as childbirth.

  7. Yes, I noticed that you don’t seem to post so frequently anymore. To be able to write freely is an immense pleasure, isn’t it? Some people seem to be able to always write freely. Others may go through periods when such writing isn’t possible.
    I would very much like to see some more of your drawings (painting), photography.if you feel you can’t do enough writing at present. Maybe you’d like to tell a bit more about your past travels? And what sort of cooking you do on a daily basis?

  8. i’d like to lose weight … as i progress into my thirties, the accumulated blubber (resultant from daily helpings of biryani cooked in diesel – trust me, they smell that way) and cheese burgers in the evening, accompanied by at least a liter of fizzy drinks) is no longer manageable.

    A mere few years ago, I could digest the above and happily stay under 70 kilo grams … but would you believe that my frame now hauls 89 kilo grams? πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

    I guess I too am aging and worrying about this would shove me into depression, which I could only cure with two liters of mango ice cream πŸ™‚

    quite a chicken and egg situation … hence I embrace my bulging stomach!! (It actually does feel like I am hugging another person)

  9. Hey Munira ,

    Awesome read!

    I remember reading this piece ages ago at the age of thirteen or sixteen…………it was an account by a fifty year old woman called “the purple hat”
    She felt all the things that we all feel as we age…..old , fat, ugly and probably useless,…… was beautifully written and ended with her talking about how she bought herself a Huge purple hat one fine day when she realised that time was running out, pulled it over her head and went out in the world exploring , living and loving the way she was meant to.
    Also she added as the punch line ” I wish and hope women would pull over the purple hat sooner and just live”

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