Yes I have a hair story.
Hairs are an integral part of one’s personality; so were they for me. I was fond of my light brown hair, silken hair, inherited from my mother. But I was more in love with my mother’s hair rather than mine. As a three year old, I regularly watched her doing her makeup. I would run to her and nag her, “Maa! Let your hair down.” I always loved it when she hung her hair loose, and not platted. She never loved the idea of loose hair, but she loved my nagging.
Some years later, because of her increased thyroid problem she started losing her hair. It was a disturbing phase but she could deal with it. What disturbed her more? – When I got hair problems. My hair trouble started when I consulted a skin specialist for my receding hairline. The doctor prescribed me a medication which caused me allergies, drying of scalp and increased dandruff. I stopped the medicine. Few days later, I got viral fever and visited another doctor who prescribed me an antibiotic, Ciprofloxacin. After 2 days of medication, my allergies worsened. My entire body became red and I had high fever. The fever subsided in a week, but not other symptoms – they rather deteriorated.
Finally, after a troubled week I took bath and stood before the mirror to see my swollen face and tired body. Next, I applied oil on my head and as I leaned to pick up a comb I got tremors to see a flock of hair in my palms. I almost got a heart attack as I saw so much of hair untangled from my head. As I moved my hands again I got a big flock again; hairs on my scalp were almost gone. It was a devastating moment; my head was reeling with thoughts – how ugly I will look, how my friends will laugh at me, and similar depressing thoughts. Very soon they turned true as well. The news spread like a forest fire in the campus hostel; boys were visiting me like I was in casualty ward of a hospital. My hirsute body had fetched me the name ‘bear’ in hostel which changed to ‘bald bear’ now.
I was just 24 and I had lost almost all my hair. Life had changed and I was suddenly looking mature. I started a homeopathic treatment to console myself, and more so to console my mother. She was so saddened by this loss that for some months she was just thinking about how to grow my hair back as if it were vegetables in her kitchen garden. Every second day she introduced a new oil or therapy. Onion pulp, herb oils and so many formulas were tried by her on my head. None worked. As time passed, I was settling with the situation, though at times I was reminded of it by strangers—especially women—when in buses they addressed me as ‘Uncle! Side please’. That would be a real bad hair-day unlike others.
I shifted to Mumbai for my post graduation and now kept hair shorter which looked sober and kempt. But still there was a pain hidden deep in my heart for being bald. This had become a part of my identity; ‘that bald fellow’ was a common reference for me. One of my friends had given me a hep name as well –‘Tuckles’ deriving from the Hindi word ‘takla’ which means bald. These were some revivers of the pain I had been trying to get rid of. Nevertheless, life went on. I started working again after my post grad studies. After a while, my life took a turn.
I started visiting a Hare Krishna temple close to my office. My college friends were busy putting extra hours with their newly started careers, while I finished my office duties and found it more meaningful to spend time in temple. I attended several spiritual discourses and melodious kirtans , and read literatures available in temple. While I went there I continued my interests with watching International film festivals, creative writing classes and a bit of photography. But something clicked more with the Hare Krishna temple: the beautiful Radha – Krishna, always endowed with a blissful smile, and the soothing chanting of Hare Krishna hymns.
At the Hare Krishna temple no one ever pointed out my bald look which was otherwise so frequent in the world outside; people outside were more concerned with my falling hair but here people were more concerned with my rising faith. In a spiritual social society, spiritual status quo has more precedence than the social status quo—how we see the world is more important than how the world sees us; I liked this.
Three years passed and now I lived at one of the Hare Krishna centers for working men, actively participating in their activities. Every day in my Hare Krishna life brought more fulfillment and happiness like a baker’s dozen leaving me more interested in the process. During that phase I was closely interacting with the Hare Krishna monks, a different and dynamic breed on the planet. Some of them were doctors, some engineers and many others were MBAs, CAs, singers, painters, writers, chefs, etc. You name it, and you will find every talent amongst or between one of them. I was developing keen interest in their lifestyle and my affinity with them and to be with them was increasing, more so for a similar NO-hair style.
Soon I was on the cross roads of life, confused to choose a career on one side and a more fulfilling life of selfless service to society on the other. To resolve this puzzle, I prayed intensely to Radha-Krishna and left for home. I was visiting my home, in Delhi, almost after six months. My parents and brothers were happy to see me back. They would always urge me to shift back to Delhi but I always excused on the pretext of my career. As my mother and I sat for lunch, when father and brothers had gone for work, she again initiated the discussion of my marriage. I heard her patiently and remained silent. “Say something, how more will you delay?”She asked. “I don’t want to get married Maa,” and I revealed my heart to her. “What about us…” she replied. “What about ….? Maa!” I sighed. When my father returned I was called on the carpet but decision was left to my mother.
There was a silence between us for next three days as we were exchanging mandatory phrases. Forth day before leaving for Mumbai, I bowed down to touch their feet. My mother caressed my hair and smirked, “Son, you can let your hair down.” Tears trickled down her face as she blessed me for the journey on forth.
With the blessings from my parents I could dare to bare my head and that was the end of my hair problems! The problem of my hair had become the problem of my life, which I have transcended now. Today, I am a shaven headed monk living a life centered on faith. I chant, dance, and render service for God and humanity and I am happy doing that. My new life like a dove represents the mystical quality and liberty, possessed by all mankind, to break the bonds of family, nation and materialism and to bond with the supreme. With the old life I am leaving my hair and problems behind forever…