Like in Schools, we have a long summer vacation, Many such uneventful vacations had passed by and every succeding one looked like any of the previous ones. The monotony had to be broken. On the eve of this Summer Vacation by a mere look in the mirror the obvious struck me by its conspicuous absence. For many years I had indulged in amusing myself at the cost of many a moustache, a hairy growth on a man's upper lip which I refused to allow with a daily dexterity. Since the growth is peculiar to man, the inner self revolted at its absence persuading the mind to give a try, and, the five weeks of absence from place of work was enough to hid the intervening embarrassment. The determination was kept secret but on the third day a reprimand came from close quarters for not shaving. Apologetically and rather sheepishly the plan was disclosed followed by a rare determination which was a result of the courage that the growth inspired. After all it was a man's privilege.
A couple of more agonizing days brought about the solution, a stealthy use of mascara which can be recommended only if you can keep a distance. The mirror reflected the ultimate look; and, far away from home in the hilly surroundings, there was no fear of retaliation from friends whose similar growth had drawn my attention and comment which ofcourse did not offend. One such indiscretion is worthy of mention. A senior and respected colleague had a very prominent moustache carefully sported over the years on a sturdy face. More than twenty years after his elevation to the coveted post the look had remained the same and equally dark. One fine day working with him, I drew his attention to the fact that after his heading the institution, there was a marked increase in the clan of moustache growers particularly, the youth. By a serene and mature look, I was asked whether any of our colleagues had similarly ventured. A good old friend with a permanent youngish face held out his prominent moustache in the minds' eye and I drew the attention of the senior colleague to the fact that he was in good company of at least one of us. The difference, however, I could not resist to emphasize. In one case it was the moustache that was on the face while in the other it was as if the face was on the moustache. This dig had made me acutely aware to the proportion aspect of it now.
Nearly a fortnight passed away and with the new achievement which was without getting any help or encouragement I victoriously landed back bringing along some beautiful plats from the hilly nurseries. The first thing to be done was to attempt a pleasant surprise among our own Kith and Kin. Therefore, the very next day which was Sunday, I promptly proceeded to my parents house and was respectfully greeted by the younger brother who had no comment to offer because of the age difference. His daughter, a seven year old kid on whom I banked for appreciation, emerged from inside and gave a startled look. Without anything more she started with agonizing shrieks and promptly declared that I was looking very bad. I consoled here by saying that this was the first time she had seen them on my face and it takes time to get used to new things in life. Often the progressive ideas are initially frowned upon. To take her mind off from the trauma, I asked her to give me a glass of cold water to drink. She seized this opportunity to bargain it out and said that she will get me the water provided I instantly remove my moustache. She was pointing in the direction of the place where by brother's shaving kit is kept which reminded me that my father also used to keep it there. I looked away into the hanging frame of my father and could perceive his smile, the one he always used to give when I did exactly what I wanted to.
Today, after the five weeks of marching ahead, feeling somewhat defeated and discouraged I am thinking of restoring the status quo ante, despite some messages of sympathy and encouragement. The better half who had remained diplomatically noncommittal, when asked, opined that I should keep it for sometime since I had taken so much trouble and grown it. The garden plants which I had lovingly brought from the cold regions were about to wither away in the uneasy climate of these planes.