First published in Different Truths. Click here to read.

One day I woke up a silver blonde — like Steve Martin.

Almost half a century ago, I had wanted to turn into a blonde with blue eyes — I had never thought of this candy floss silver tuft. That time I also wanted to be a princess like in ‘Princess & the Pea’ or ‘The Frog Princess’ — only I did not want to kiss frogs to find my prince. Infact, I did not think of princes at all at that point.

The only time they dressed me up to be a doll-princess was for a play. I evidently needed curly hair as I was to represent a ‘mem’ or a Westerner. I remember now I slept the night before on my nose with curlers in my hair and discomfort.  I still recall the green brocade dress and long white gloves that was my costume. And my hair fell straight by the evening. Then, in the greenroom backstage, I noticed the other queens, the ministers, and the king – a polygamous one obviously as the story centred on his three queens — all had oodles of artificial jewellery. I was given none. That upset me and I refused to go on stage without some jewellery. Fair enough, in the serial, The Crown, the queen mother wears jewellery. So, why not me? Netflix did not exist then and neither did the soap! But ultimately, the director did understand my logic and got my message. No jewellery, no performance from the mem rani. Finally, they gave in. I was given some pearl strings so that I would go on stage. And then, I complied gracefully and with docility.

In my late teens, I wanted frizzy hair — my hair was as straight as pine needles. I slept with hairpins on at night in an attempt to have the frizzled look, combed my hair backward — tried all kinds of things, but again in a couple of hours my hair fell straight. I was pretty much in the predicament of the sage who tried to wear his pigtail before him, as described by William Makepeace Thackeray*.

There lived a sage in days of yore,
And he a handsome pigtail wore;
But wondered much and sorrowed more
Because it hung behind him.

He mused upon this curious case,
And swore he'd change the pigtail's place,
And have it hanging at his face,
Not dangling there behind him.

Said he, “The mystery I've found,
I'll turn me round.”
He turned him round;
But still it hung behind him.

The poem is a long one. I only share a bit to give you the gist of my feeling, my longing for frizzy hair. Just like the sage could not move his pigtail, I could not develop a frizz!

As I touched my twenties, I wanted jet black hair…

Click here to read the rest.