By Taniya Dutta
A 70-year-old Indian man has been living in isolation to protect his 18-foot-long moustache.
Ramesh Chand Kushwaha, from Agra in northern India, has been growing his facial hair for the last three decades.
The septuagenerian is so possessive of his moustache he left his family and moved to a shanty town outside his village so no one can touch or break it.
He massages his tache with butter, cream and special oils and keeps them tied into a bundle on top of his head under a turban.
Kushwaha says: “They are priceless for me.
“I want to keep growing them long. I want to see how long they can grow.”
Kushwaha has the second longest moustache in the country after Guinness World Record holder Ram Singh Chauhan whose moustache is 18.5 feet long.
But the old man says he has no greed for a world record as he has no ‘control’ over its growth.
Kushwaha said: “I don’t know about the record. It is up to my moustache to grow and smash all the records. I have no control on their growth. It is their will to grow or break.
“I don’t know how long they are as I don’t measure them. The only time I realise they have grown long is when someone comes to check its length or when I wash them.”
Kushwaha earns a living by selling purified water and spends all his income taking good care of his moustache, which has since turned into a dreadlock.
He eats curds, milk and cream to condition and nourish his facial hair and keeps it covered from dust so that the hair keeps growing long and strong.
Kushwaha says: “I have to be extra cautious every time.
“I am very careful about them. Whether I am walking or sleeping, I am very careful. I have the fear of them breaking.
“I use good quality oil and massage them with butter for their health but I don’t comb them.
“They are now dreadlocks now so I cannot comb them. At times, I feel pain because of the weight but I tolerate to for the moustache’s sake.
“Just like we cover our face from dust and dirt, I cover them so they are not damaged.”
Kushwaha has become a centre of attention the village, turning heads wherever he goes – but he doesn’t like the stares he gets.
He said: “I feel like a celebrity. People from far away villages come to see my moustache.
“While some admire them, others laugh at me or comment on me for my obsession.
“I don’t like them when they laugh at me.
“I don’t like it when people stare at me because I feel they are scared of me.
“Sometimes I also feel scared of them when they keep staring at me.”
Kushwaha doesn’t let any child come close to him in fear of them ripping his moustache.
He doesn’t meet his own children and grandchildren after he left them decades ago because of regular fights with his wife for growing his moustache.
He said: “I moved to this hut outside the village because I didn’t want anyone to stop me from growing the moustache lone.
“I live here alone and don’t like when kids come to see me. They are scared of me and I fear they will break my moustache. I don’t know about my grandchildren.
“My family doesn’t like my moustache and so I live separately in a hut.
“My wife used to demand me to shave it but I wanted to grow them. This led to fights and I left the house.”