Thrissur: Election results can lead to bad hair days. Ask Antony Maliyekkal Pyloth, who lost more than a whisker when Congress’s A C Jose beat CPI’s V V Raghavan in the Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency in 1999.
A tyre mechanic near Thrissur’s private bus stand, Antony could not resist rebuking his friend’s claim that the Congress would win hands down in the parliamentary constituency. The left sympathiser he was, Antony threw his weight behind Raghavan.
While Antony and Thomman Palathinkal, the Congress worker, argued, a common friend suggested that they should put money on their loyalties. ‘Koshanna’ Yakob suggested a wager of Rs 5,000, but Antony and Palathinkal were so confident of their respective candidates that they agreed to raise the bet to Rs 10,000.
Just to make it doubly sure, Antony brought in an additional condition. The loser should tonsure half his head and go around the town if he did not want to pay up. Everyone agreed and went back to campaigning for their camps.
Little did Antony know that he was destined for instant fame. As the results came pouring in, it was clear that the CPI candidate had let him down. Antony stuck to his bet. He got a barber to shave off the locks on the left side of his head. After all, Rs 10,000 was a big amount for a man who ran a modest tyre vulcanising shop.
He held his new-look head high and led an impromptu procession through the bus stand, Thomman and Yakob and other friends in tow. Though he was spared the embarrassment of extending his head-turning tour to the rest of the town, he had already been clicked.
The next day’s Malayala Manorama carried a photo of Antony showing off his half-shaved head through a thick tyre.
Pyloth was all smiles when we caught up with him last week. He looked almost admiringly at the frame of fame from 20 years ago. At 56, the hair is back with a vengeance but he said he had stayed away from wagers for the last two decades.
The man who started it all, Thomman, is still a good friend. The other characters in the strange drama, including the mediator, the barber, and even the two candidates, have died.