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My Imperfect Look
by Sangeetha Vallat

"What happened to your hair?"

"I didn't like people staring at the grey strands and anyways was bored with my looks."

"But you could colour your hair instead of cutting such lengthy hair?"

"I only di(y)e once!!"

This was a few years ago. Since then, I let my hair grow back. Strictly followed the coconut oil regimen, and the boy cut gradually transformed to shoulder length hair then trickled to the waist. I realised it was time to revisit the hairstylist.

Researching the beauty salons nearby, I fixed up an appointment with one that garnered a high rating among customers. I always hated visiting the beauty parlours. The heavily made-up girls at the parlours with their defined pouts opinionated about my skin type, hair texture, the shape of my eyebrows and whatnot. Nothing on me was satisfactory. They tut-tutted and endeavoured to beautify me.

I tried a facial once before my wedding and one other time when my friend coaxed me into accepting an offer of a free AQUA treatment, something new in the market. A goddess of beauty worked on my imperfect skin for an hour and advised me to stay away from sun exposure. Like a masked burglar, I reached home only to see my skin turn pink to red with itchy blotches. I did not dare to try out a facial free or paid after the fiasco.

When I am with the 'womenfolk', I feel lost when they discuss nail spas, artificial nails, stick on eyelashes, lip pencils….

Oh, once my young friend worked on her eyes for a while and asked me, "Do I look pretty?"

"Errr, you look like a ghost with white eye shadows." I blurted.

She stomped out, calling me names!

So, I was sitting in the salon waiting for the Russian model to work on my tresses. This time I wasn't too adventurous and opted for a layer cut that retained the lengthy mane. As I was reading Russian literature and engrossed in Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, I sprang into conversation while Nadia snipped my hair. I learnt a lot about her life in Russia, her son, whom she had to leave with her mother and how she yearned to meet her family. At the end of our session, there was hardly any change in my appearance.

At home, my mother and my husband exchanged funny looks as I explained about my imperceptible haircut.

Months passed; my luxuriant growth had begun to imitate Medusa. Or more like Mowgli from the Jungle book. The final straw was when I took my mother to a hospital where a nurse asked me if we were sisters! My mother had fewer grey strands compared to mine.

I selected another hairstylist - A clean-shaven hulk named Ralph. His bald head shining, he chopped my long hair and gave me what I asked—a complete makeover.

Well, now I look like a ten-year-old strapped in a 45-year-old body.