Moments of 2013 – Part 2

In the last part I mentioned all the strangers that I met who willingly told me their life stories. However, last year I made an acquaintance who I wish had told me her entire story and not only an intro.

I don’t frequent posh spas but I got a deal (yes I’m brown to the core :p) for facials and went to a really chic parlour in downtown last March. The woman who greeted me looked worn down by life. Her smile was forced and her eyes were brimming with untold sorrow. Usually ladies at these places are chirpy and talkative but she wasn’t.

At end of the session she gave me an envelope with a pamphlet and a coupon for a manicure. Every business knows coupons are the best way to keep customers coming back. So the brown girl in me decided to use the coupon a week later to get my first ever proper manicure. I’ve also had a pedicure once ever and I doubt I’ll ever do either again. The sense of being served doesn’t sit well with me. Servitude should be out of love only, not merely as a duty or for money.

Anyway, it was the same woman as last time and she seemed a bit more friendly. For the first part she asked a bunch of questions about my nail care (non existent.. Don’t got time for that) then went about her job. Sometime passed before she asked a question for which she thought she already knew the answer. She asked if I was going to put varnish on. It was evident from the tone of her voice that she expected me to say no. I said yes. She was surprised. Then she asked me to choose a shade, I chose cherry red. Again she was surprised and said she thought I’ll choose a more neutral colour. I think she came to the realization that she has miscalculated me, which of course I’m not surprised about. When people see a hijabi, they immediately make their assumptions and you know what they saying about assuming things …

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A few minutes later she asked a question I totally didn’t expect. ‘Doesn’t wearing nail polish prevent you from your prayers??’ I explained to her that women don’t have to pray when they are on their cycle. And then it clicked me to ask how she knew Muslim women can’t pray whilst wearing varnish. The obvious answer would have been that she had previous Muslim clients that passed the varnish during their manicure.

She let out a nervous laugh, paused for a bit and said, 

‘I was married to a Muslim…’
‘Was???’
‘Was…’

I waited for her to continue, she never did. My head was and is still flooded with questions courtesy of my curiosity.

The conversation somehow then changed to ethnicities. She identified herself as Canadian .. Just plain Canadian no dashes. Based on her name and features I’d say of German descent.

I told her I was Indian and she asked if I had ever gone back and inquired if it was safe. It took me 3 seconds to connect the safety question to the Delhi Rape case. I explained I’m from the opposite pole of Delhi, where it’s a lot more safer for women. I doubt I’ll live to see the time when India is considered safe for women.

One of the main reason women love going to the spa/beauty parlour is because it’s therapeutic. It’s a temporary cure to a problem that you wouldn’t widely admit you have. Going to a shrink means you accept you have a problem and therefore you are  seeking its remedy. But at the spa, you just spill your heart out to a complete stranger then leave looking pretty and with the added bonus of a lighter heart.

As I was rambling on about the woes of being single she stopped me mid sentence as she said,

‘You don’t need marriage. Stay single. You’re independent, self-sufficient, you don’t need a man in your life to be happy.’

I listened and realized that I was listening to her sorrow. Her advice was biased bitterness from whatever experiences she had in life. She was probably in her forties and fully prepared to live a companion less life.

Of course I won’t be taking her advice. I want contentment in life, which she was clearly lacking in hers.

I met her for a facial 7 times since that day. Each time I’d go with the resolve of asking her to tell me her story. But then I’d hear zen like spa music and just ease into slumber. The ego of my curiosity is bruised, badly. If I ever do see her again, I’ll ask. Or maybe this is one story I’m not meant to hear.