Monday, July 10, 2006

Musings in front of a hairstylist’s mirror

I look at the mirror everyday, like everybody else- while brushing teeth, while shaving and while combing my hair. During such face-to-face episodes not much thoughts cross the mind except to determine when I should go for a haircut or shave my beard.

But this Sunday it was a different sort of face reading experience. I went to haircut with S, my son. He likes haircuts and is always eager to go for one. When I was a child, it was totally a different matter. I do not know why, but I hated haircuts, even now I feel miserable and vulnerable in a hairstylist’s chair. As a kid, I always felt hairstylist would make me look ugly. After haircuts, I hesitated to go out to play with friends fearing that they would tease me and prayed for restoration of my hair.

While hairstylist was busy with his scissors and comb I had ample time to read and observe the details of my face in the wide mirror in front of me. The front and back mirrors form infinite number of images and reminds of my physics lessons. Suddenly I felt I was becoming an old man (Just another five years to score an half century). I felt my face has more wrinkles than I had imagined and eyes more sunken. Most of the beard stubbles were gray and I thought, if I grew a beard I would look more like a very aged man. I forgot the hairstylist, my ears distanced itself to the click click sound of his scissors, the whole world vanished leaving only two people- me and my image in the mirror, each staring at each other. I felt like Alice, who entered the wonderland through the looking glass. Quickly I came out of it, but the visions of wrinkles and sunken eyes in my face laced with gloominess never let me go.

I shave everyday. Is it because of my anxiety of not to let people know of my age? Many of my friends do not colour their moustache. Why do I do it? Do I have an unknown fear, which I am afraid to explore? Few months back I decided not to colour my gray hair. R said I look like a sick man. At my hometown my cousin said I have a look of a respectable elder. How many more years I have? I am accustomed to young people calling me ‘uncle’ which reminds me of my elderliness.

Well, I always wonder- do our thoughts also age along with us? When we get old, do our thoughts also will be of thoughts of an old man? But many of my childhood memories are still fresh in my mind- my very first day at school, the snubbing of my teacher when I sang a song, the smell of ‘uppittu’ which was regularly served at lunch time in my PC Halli School, the anger in my dad’s face while thrashing me when I had forgotten addition and subtraction during my summer holidays …. Memories are in abundance. Does the glut of childhood memories indicate the sign of aging? Some philosopher said, ‘While the body may decline in function slowly, like the gentle falling of a leaf in autumn, the human soul never ages’, which reminds me of Victor Hugo’s words, ‘The heart does not grow old, but it is said to dwell among ruins.’

I look at my kids and I remember my childhood. I try to search myself in their naughtiness and playfulness; try to listen to my voice in their talks. A science book had said, ‘It is a substratum that lives on through generation after generation, transcending the millennia. It was the kind of immortality we have through our children. I am carrying within my beating heart the DNA of my father, and his father before him……’
So, I am a sort of an immortal! Or is it my father? Or his father?…..


vijayaraghavan said...

I have written a poem in Kannada on the barber's shop . It is about a sufficiently old man observing a young man getting a shave (and hair cut too?) The peom ends with a note that the young man has unveiled the confusions in me who waited there in a Q. It also tells about transformation of days in to news paper sheets in a saloon.This piece from you, balu, some how seems to be a bit undernourished compared to you previous posting.

Anonymous said...

ha, I am going to try out my thought, your post give me some good ideas, it's really amazing, thanks.

- Murk