I was 23 when I met him. I knew he was older. He looked much older. It was only when we got together that I realized that the age difference between us was that of a full-grown adult; it was more than my own age.
I’d met him last year. I was at an Open Mic event to read out my new poem. I was on the stage, in the middle of reading my second verse, when I saw him at the far end of the bar. He was sitting alone, doing something with a pen on a tissue paper. He turned his head toward me for a split second. Our eyes met, but it seemed like he was staring at something behind me. He had barely looked at me when he went back to his tissue paper.
I was suddenly consumed by stage fright. Embarrassed and angry, I hurried down the stage and made my way towards him. I think he smiled a little as I approached him. But an expression of surprise took over his face when I furiously grabbed the piece of paper and crumpled it in my fist.
“If you are not interested in poetry, why are you here? It’s an insult to anyone on the stage when their audience is engrossed in other bullshit,” I screamed at him.
His lips curled into a smile again. I felt my legs go weak under my weight, as he said something I did not hear. A different picture had started running in my head — I was running my fingers through his peppered hair, kissing those lips.
“Eh?” I jolted back to reality.
“You had all my attention,” he replied, flashing that gorgeous smile at me again.
“What do you mean?” I asked him.
“Why don’t you look at the paper in your hand?” he said.
I straightened out the paper on the bar counter. A half-finished image of myself smiled back at me.
I laughed out loudly, threw my arms around him, and kissed his cheek. That was it; that was the beginning of our beautiful relationship; the beginning of my obsession.
My friends and family were not happy, as expected. My father had pointed out multiple times over the last one year at how they were the same age. My friends, too, ignored my feelings and made fun of his grey hair and wrinkled eyes.
These were the very things that had made me fall in love with him. “He has a different charm,” I tried to tell my friends. But they continued to call him “my old man”. With time, these comments started bothering me. And I decided to do something about it.
I spent many days looking at simple home remedies on the Internet; easy solutions for “blackening” grey hair, and “ironing out” those wrinkles. I snuck in a few remedies on Sunday mornings under the pretext of cleaning our skins and protecting our hair against the pollution. I would wake up and prepare a paste of methi (fenugreek seeds), amla (Indian gooseberry), and coconut oil. It smelled awful, but I had to let him apply the mixture in my hair after I applied it in his hair, to avoid him from getting suspicious. He never complained, though. He thought this was something every girl of my age did.
I used to wake up early on many mornings and stare at his rapidly graying hair. I had even dared to cringe every time he left some of his grey hair on my body after we’d finished making out. Somewhere, over the last year, his element of sexiness had become a thing that bothered me the most.
But no matter how many oils and pastes I applied on his hair, no matter how many treatments we got done, age was catching up to him.
And I felt left behind.
Then one day, I woke up. He was away on business. I quickly booked an appointment and headed to the salon.
Later that night, I went to the airport to pick him up.
With my hair dyed grey.