*First Prize Winning Entry in Parachute and Women’s Web’s “Goodness of Coconut” contest*
Dad would climb coconut trees on summer afternoons. The days of vacation would stretch lazily ahead, the sun a glorious shade of gold. The troupe would smuggle the prized coconuts inside, carefully placed in rucksacks. It is another story that the little smugglers would usually be caught red-handed by my very observant Grandma. After framing a suitable apology for the complaints sure to come in, she would set to work on making coconut barfi. For the entire neighbourhood. Today, when Dad recounts stories of yore, I get a startling realization of how time has flown. From the time Mom used to be my skincare specialist, with coconut oil in a plastic bottle, to the dusty, coarse reality of today.
“You aren’t supposed to eat this!” I remember an aunt screaming when she spotted me digging into a coconut-oil bottle with a spoon. I couldn’t be blamed, could I – the coconut looked neat, glossy and immensely tempting. She had proceeded to explain to me the goodness of coconut for fresh, glowing skin and healthy hair. In detail. I complained to Mom later. “Why can’t I eat something that is so healthy?” Though Mom giggled, I am sure those coconut-chocolate companies grabbed major customer insight from me that evening.
Come to think of it, the goodness of coconut is no surprise. Taut brown packaging, damage resistant fibre, placed on a pedestal impossible for the untrained to reach – ah! And then, underneath all the toughness, purity that is hard to match. It is a nut for sceptics no less, the kind that reaffirms faith in the noble creator amidst the clouds. Grandma is still chirpy when she spots coconuts in the kitchen basket. “This one for barfis…” she points out the fluffiest of the lot to me, “…that one for your skin. We will get the dryness to go.” She then spots a lone, rather shrivelled one in the corner. “and that one will do for the dishes!”
Tradition or no tradition, skincare can boast of a mind-space of its own. Even if we are the to-hell-with-niceties kind. Skin problems, even the non-cosmetic ones, are vexing. While we are losing out on personal time by the minute, we are gaining on associated problems – skin that lacks moisture, colour and lustre. Problems that can all be addressed by basic, unadulterated coconut. Considering the huge business that ‘beauty’ now is, there is apparently some magic solution for all problems. Few of these solutions however, are willing to answer what lies on the other side of the moon.
Mom still keeps coconut oil in a plastic bottle. Grandma helps her with safe-keeping coco-milk, especially for yours truly, the princess of the house. When winter mornings dawn sleepy and cold, she heats the bottle for convenience of use. Dad doesn’t climb coconut trees any more. We get our coconuts from the local market – now transformed from the lively bazaar of my childhood into a snooty market-city. While the world continues to change for better or worse, happily, soft and supple skin is still only a few coconuts or a coco-moisturizer away.
*picture from newbeauty.com