Nidhi and Sukriti were on their way to college. It was their first day and while Nidhi was excited and talked a mile a minute, Sukriti was lost in her own thoughts. She wasn’t too happy about the college she had joined. It was one of the more hipper colleges in Delhi. While it was well-known for its academic standards, it also was where kids from prominent families came to study. The student body was a mix of the progeny of politicians’ and socialites and children from middle-class families. The class divide though, was clear. Students from different strata of society did not mix. They inhabited different social circles and there was a stigma attached to not being one of the “cool” kids.
“What are you thinking of? Are you nervous, Sukie?” asked Nidhi. “Nothing, just wondering how college is going to be, Nids.” said Sukriti. Nidhi went back to talking excitedly.. however what she was talking about, Sukriti could not say. She went back to her train of thought. No one would believe Nids and I are twins, she thought. Look at her, she’s so excited, confident and happy about starting a new phase of life. She had her outfit picked out a week ago. She knows exactly how to accessorize. She looks radiant, her hair’s all shiny and her makeup’s perfect. Look at me, on the other hand. I am wearing my ratty pair of jeans and a kurta that has faded after so many washes. All I did in order to accessorize was add a scarf. My hair’s a frizzy mess. She couldn’t even use a flat-iron anymore without causing large chunks of her hair to fall. The whole permanent hair straightening thing had backfired. Her hair had looked wonderful when she’d first got it done Then her hair started to fall. Now 6 months later, her hair had thinned out, it was back to its frizzy self and it felt coarse and rough. At least she could take comfort in the fact that her clothes were comfortable and it was precisely for this reason that she’d worn them.
First day of college was just as difficult ad Sukriti had thought. Nids went ahead and made friends. Before the end of the day she had a group and it looked like she’d always belonged with them. Sukriti had tried to tag along but she felt so out-of-place that eventually she just went to the library when she didn’t have a class and managed to bury herself in a book.
At home, when their mom asked them about their first day of college, Nids talked and talked and talked. She told her mother about plans for the upcoming weekend, the culture club that she wanted to be a part of. Sukriti, on the other hand, just said her day was okay when Nids finally took a breath.
After their evening tea, Mom found Sukriti in her room, looking over the year’s syllabus. “Sukie, sweetie, did something happen at college?” asked Neha. “No mom, my day was okay.” said Sukriti. “Child, you’re a lousy liar and I can always see through your lies.” said Neha ruffling Sukie’s hair. “Now tell me what’s wrong.”
“Mom, Nids was so comfortable at college, she walked into class like she owned it. A half hour later, she was giggling and talking to half a dozen girls. She got invited to the movies by a couple of them. I, on the other hand, couldn’t pipe up to even introduce myself to anyone in class. Why are we so different, mom? Why can’t I be more like Nids?” said Sukriti quietly.
Neha saw the crumpled face of her younger twin and felt her eyes fill with tears. However, she forced a note of gaiety in her voice and said “Different’s not a bad thing, Sukie. If you and Nids were exactly the same, you’d be boring. She has her pluses and her minuses, too. She’s outgoing, talks a ton and suffers from over-confidence, occasionally. You are sensitive, caring and suffer from diffidence, all the time. Do you remember, Sukie, you were not always like this? You’ve always been shy and it’s always taken you a little time to open up but at school you were part of the music club. You edited your school magazine. You helped organize the school trip to Dehradun. It’s in the last 6 months that you’ve started cutting yourself off socially. It all has to do with the blasted hair straightening you got done. I wish I’d never agreed to it. you cried and whined and said you wanted hair like Nids, so I gave in to you. Not my best parenting moment.” sighed Neha. “But baby,” she continued “it’s not the end of the world. Sure, your hair’s not as long as it was before and it’s lost some of its thickness and it looks coarse, but with proper care and nourishment, it’ll come back. It’ll take a little time, is all. You’re not just your beautiful hair, Sukie.” she concluded. “But mom, it’s been six months, my hair loss has only gone up, not down. No oil treatment is making my hair softer. And even if my hair does become like it was before it’ll be a frizzy, curly nightmare. it won’t be anything like yours or Nids.” “Oh shush, child.” said Neha. “You are so focused on your hair that you don’t even see how pretty you are. You have such lovely features. Okay now enough of this moping around, your college years are going to be the best. You just have to give it some time.”
Unfortunately, Sukriti’s college life did not get very much better in the coming months. She made a couple of friends but she still spent most of her time in the library. Few people knew her and she was perfectly happy with that. Nidhi kept trying to include her in her group of friends but Sukriti resisted. Not only did she feel that she looked frumpy when compared to Nids and her group of friends but there was also this really cute guy – Rohan in the group that she had a major crush on. She couldn’t get a word out in his presence and she felt the whole world knew exactly the way she felt about him. Rohan had tried to get her to talk a couple of times but finding Sukriti tongue-tied, he’d given up on his efforts. Sukriti felt the best way to avoid any embarrassment was to stay away from Nids’s group.
6 months into college, a cultural event was to take place and their college was to host it. All colleges in the city would participate and there would be a number of inter-collegiate competitions in music, dance and sport. The event was to end with a fashion pageant. There was a lot of excitement about the event. It was a prestigious event and there had been a couple of very popular playback singers and choreographers that had been “discovered” at this event, previously.
Nids wanted to be part of the fashion pageant and she went all out at the auditions. With her tall, lithe figure and her radiant smile and the way she carried herself, it wasn’t surprising that she was picked. Nids kept asking Sukie to participate in the music competition. Sukie, however, was terrified of the sheer magnitude of the event and kept refusing. Nids was determined that her sister would sing at the competition. She took a video of one of her sister’s earlier performances to the audition along with a couple of trophies she’d won and convinced the selection committee that Sukie belonged in the competition – in fact she might even win it for their college. Now all that remained was to convince Sukie that big competition or not, she had the talent to impress.
Nids started bolstering Sukie at every opportunity she could find. She started nagging her to dress better. She wanted to try different hair styles on her. Sukie generally put up with her sister trying to give her a makeover but they did get into arguments and Sukie would generally end with “Leave me alone, I don’t want to be a glam doll like you. I’m happier being the wallflower.” A determined Nids was not be messed with, though. A couple of months before the cultural festival, Nids let Sukie know she had gotten her into the music competition. A lot of drama ensued. Eventually Neha and Nids convinced Sukie that she should participate. It would do wonders for her confidence. A very reluctant Sukie grumpily gave in.
As the day of the competition came closer, Sukie grew more nervous. Her rehearsals were going extremely well. She would, however, close her eyes and refuse to interact with the audience. It was the only way she could deal with people looking at her. 4-5 weeks before the competition, on a Sunday, Nids was making her argument about how interacting with the audience would enhance Sukie’s performance. “An engaging performer, one who looks like they’re having fun on stage is what the public wants. Not somebody who closes her eyes and looks like she just wants to be done. Your wanting to be a wallflower just makes no sense. You are petite, pretty, and with a little makeup and the right clothes, you will dazzle.” said Nids. “Yeah and what do you want to do with my hair. It’s still frizzy, looks lank and dry and I refuse to put any chemicals in it to tame it for I will pay the price later.” argued Sukie.
“I have something here, it’s a new line from Dove called Dove damage therapy. It has been developed exclusively for people like you with hair damage. Why don’t you try it?” asked Nids. “Nids, you know how wary I am of trying new hair products.” wailed Sukie. “It’s not like your current shampoo and conditioner is doing much for you. Try these products for a couple of weeks. if you see no improvement, you can go back to your current hair regime. Better yet, I will pull you out of the competition too. I have read the reviews. Users claim Dove Damage therapy has done wonders for them. Why don’t you try it, please?” begged Nids
Reluctantly, Sukie agreed to try the product. She used it 3 times the first week and her hair felt softer to the touch. The frizz and the flyaway were considerably lesser. Hairfall seemed to be lessening too. She didn’t want to be overly optimistic but it seemed like Dove damage therapy was making a difference where everything else had failed before.
3 weeks into her new Dove damage therapy regime, Sukie’s hair bounced, shone with life and felt like silk. With her hair woes at an end, Sukie blossomed too. She became more confident, smiled a lot more and became more outgoing.
On the night of the competition, true to her sister’s prediction, she dazzled. That was the night Rohan very coyly asked if she’d go out for a cup of coffee with him and she, forgetting to be tongue-tied, said yes.
“And that was the end of my hair problems” concluded Sukriti Sehgal. She was being interviewed by Cosmo magazine for their Fun Fearless Females feature. As one of the hottest singing sensations in the country, Sukie definitely qualified. The music competition that she won had led to a gig with one of the more popular bands at college and had eventually won her a recording contract 2 years later. Her hair, once the cause of her low self-esteem shined with health. It still was curly, but it hung to her lower back and was thick and felt like a sheet of silk. Sukie loved running her fingers through it and it was the one thing she was complimented on over and over again.
This is an official entry for the “My Beautiful Hair story” contest on Indiblogger
Disclaimer: Any mention of the after effects of permanent hair straightening in this blog post are purely fictional.