The day was fixed as my PATTABHISHEGAM ( Coronation ) day. Sunday is the day I go to my faithful barber,oops.Hair dresser, of 25 years.Forgot if I ( we )celebrated that.Must remember it next time since he maintains the diary,right from the day the charges used to be Rs 5.(do you get a cuppa tea for that now)
Dot at 550 am, I leave home to be his first customer,and I do have that proud look on my face when I see others waiting,after me.Only thing he has not initiated a token system.Appointments are as good as in doctors place,they seldom work.Over the years his shop ( can I call it Shop )has moved from under the greenwood tree to a modern place with couple of assistants moving around with all kind of gizmos,miniature versions of a perfect lawn mowers.
But for me,my faithful Natarajan will use only a comb,a scissor and a barbers antique knife for my nut..nothing much ,its always an army cut and a massage of the head,a routine which has remained over the years.Only that the charges have not been !! His clients include all kinds,politicians to actors. Natarajan and me belong to same village,(pure coincidence )from Thanjavur.He keeps going there every month ,and keeps me updated of the going ons there,andI see the happenings thru his narration , a la MahaBharatha Dhirudhuraashtra.All these in the 15 minutes of the choppings.
And this morning of all the days I woke up ,pretty late at 630 am,and the worries were explicit on my forehead.And in the shop, I was 7th in the Q.That meant it was going to be a long wait.Unlike me ,with sparse hairs on my nut,others were fluffy in thier head ranging from jet black to partly grey to fully silver..hmm so I sat in the corner,with a handful of magzines and was sleepy,since I had slept fairly late yesterday.Through the corner of the eyes I could see Natarajan having genuine sympathy for me since he knew I was a stickler to timings and today was just a wrong day.
When my turn finally came,happiness lit on my face I sat off on the throne and the Pattabhisheham started.The routine was always that the initial process, for example tying the apron etc, would be done by his assistants and he would be there to do the actual ritual of snipping and then the final clean up again by his assistants. One had to realise ,his time had become very very valuable.
Apron tied,head moist with water, boss came and started doing his job.I was tired and he was slightly tensed with many VIP customers (of course including me )I dozed off.A little later,when one of his assistants gently woke me up ,I saw a different face on the mirror in the front.
Yes they had nicely dyed my hair and to add to the misery ( !! )two streaks on either side !!!. they looked like painted on horns of a well fed bull ready for the JALLIKATTU.(Bull fight,famous in Tamil Nadu )
Ennappa idhu (whats all this ) I screamed.Natarajan came rushing by.He didnt know what to say I guess.I asked him if anything could be done,and from his expression I ralised it was negative .Some hyperactivity around, as if they were going to save a patient from his death bed,I knew the case was lost.Oh My crowning glory !!
Profusely apologising ,he said it will be back to my normal ,in maximum of three weeks.
Three weeks, how am I going to survive.
The most conservative AGRAHARAM area I live,is definitely going to have many eyebrows raised for the next three weeks!!
When I enter home ,the look of my family ,is going to be one of surprise,and I wont be surprised if they are startled too !!
My kids are going to be back from hostel, after their semester exams ,in two days and their reactions !!
My office and factory people are going to just wonder,what has come over me !!
and many more and many more..these are the just few which cross my mind !!
As I got up slowly from the chair,after the imagined social onslaughts,one last glimpse at the mirror to see the reflections of this moron,gave me a little confidence. After all I may not be looking so bad as I imagined.May be I am looking a lot younger.but the streaks ..so what.May be I have to behave younger.May be I am young too..As they say,age is between the ears.Hmm..
Through the corner of the eyes I surveyed the room.Was anyone watching ?None,Natrajan was busy scolding the boy. So dont have to really bother ,I guess.
Came out of the shop (!),felt some boys in the nearby tea shop were watching me.Hmm may be they have mistaken me for a famous film star .Got into the car and drove back home.
At the signal,a young & slender traffic cop who was making use of most of the shadow of a thinner lamp post ( you see its 38 c already )bent down and had a good look at my face.I was beaming.A young girl looking at me.I realised later ,being on Bandhobast duty on the Chief ministers route,she must have been wanting to make sure I was not a thug or terrorist and hence the inquisitive look !!Well these things happen,I thought to myself.
As I approached my house,I was preparing myself to act natural and as if nothing happened..Will it be possible ?