Gray Matters

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


When I looked at myself in the mirror that Saturday morning, all I saw was one big mess. Tired was written all over my face: puffy eyes, with brown bags underneath, bed sheet wrinkles, scruffy hair. And then, there it was: A white hair stood out from the middle of the askew part in my black hair. I ran my hand through my hair to cover it with the black ones, but it wouldn’t fold. Relentless, I erratically ran both my hands, but more whites decided to rear their rebellious heads instead. I sighed.

At 29, I was finally starting to look my age. Petite and skinny, I’ve almost always been mistaken for a teenager or a twentysomething girl at best – never ever my real age, and certainly not a woman on the verge of the big Three O. Time was catching up on me. Old age was showing on me. And my unwittingly deceiving looks were starting to run on a short leash.

In these image-obsessed societies we live in, looks – especially a woman’s looks – are all but what matters. And it’s not how she chooses to look, it’s how society wants her to look.

So as a 29-year-old woman with showing white hairs, it’s time for me to turn to dyes. Whatever our motives are, when we are young, we can’t wait to grow older. And when we do, we wish we could stay young forever. Like it or not, however, our bodies have a shelf life and all the nipping, tucking, plucking and dying in the world is not going to change that. Try as we might, we can’t hide the ripples of time flowing, we can’t erase the signs and marks of life moving.

And that’s why I like my hair just the way it is, black and graying. I like it because each and every one of those rebellious whites is a chapter of my life story.

Take that stranded one on my askew part, for example, it tells how I was picked on at school because I was too short, too odd-looking to be in Grade 9, how I hated my secondary years so much that I blocked most of them from my memory;

Or that one further back, it tells how I resented my father in my late teenage years for giving up on himself and his family, and how I was relieved a sudden heart attack took his last breath, painlessly transporting him to what I hope is a happier place, and eventually leaving us to just move on;

Or that one on my right temple, it tells how I turned down a much-sought-after offer to relocate, and stayed at a recently started job in a country which I never felt I fit in or belonged, gaining two great friends in the process, and discovering that one of my callings is to bring about social change;

Or those three – or are they five? – on the crown of my head, they tell how I only came out to myself at 27 during my interview for “Bareed Mista3jil” of all things…

Yes, my increasingly gray hair is my life story. And it’s going to get grayer in technicolor, one white hair after the other until the last of days. Isn’t that a beautiful wonder?

Sometime in the first decade of the 21st century, Joelle found queer and feminist activism, which only added to her always being lost – in thought, that is. Joelle likes to wander (or is it ponder?) the world, read books, listen to her – yes, her – music, and mull over her existence, the human condition, and the thoughts zooming through her mind when she’s running or biking in the city and beyond. Queer existentialism anyone?

Leave a Reply