I entrust my feet, and half of my newly-waxed legs into very warm, swirling waters : Heaven with a pinch (the temperature being just a little over perfect). They settle in nicely, my feet, leaving me to savour the ambience this sensory experience is creating. I am already praying, may this last for the rest of the day, when the pedicurist, a stranger, albeit a gentle one, asks me in hushed whispers, “Is okay naa Madam?”
“yes, yes!” I mouth, even as my mind says, ‘shush! let me be, o let me live gently for this one hour of complete unadulterated bliss- using my legs as a means for salvation and a route to higher thinking.’
On cue, Parmod, as this no-longer stranger, calls himself, lets me be for the rest of the pedicuring hour. But does the world let me be? Nah, not a chance!
I pick up my juicy novel, written by a friend, no less, and recommence Paula’s journey, when I overhear snippets of a conversation, that cannot be ignored.
“Arrey, vohi toh, she thinks she’s some angel dropped straight out of heaven,”
“Yes, that’s what I’m saying yaar, she’s not blameless. I’m sure she’s had it out with others as well. That guy is loaded, why would she….”
Interruption from the other side.
My side is going, “haan, haan, right, right. Husband hai aakhir!” (after all he’s her husband!)
“Ok, so then you dole out advice naa, don’t tell me all this.”
“Ok, so then you tell her naa. I can’t. I won’t. Mujhse toh nahin bola jaayega.” (I won’t be able to spell it out).
A long dialogue ensues ostensibly from the other side.
“Ok. Theek hai, we’ll catch up tonight at Meena’s, but careful what you say in front of the others haan. Sound sympathetic, abhi toh, you sound like quite a bitch!!”
Titter, titter. Some more laughter, the other side must’ve taken this ‘critique’ well. The laughter I hear is clearly fake and to appease. I can’t suppress a giggle myself.
In the meantime, my legs are being well soaped, lathered and massaged. I remember where I am, and gleefully return to the savouring.
Just as I re-settle myself in the sofa, I hear a young child yelling,
“No, no, don’t cut my hair, nooooo!” Chilled to the bones, I turn back sharply: a little fella is being harassed by three adults. The helpless mother repeatedly asks her son, and not a daughter, which is made clear by her sermon – “If you don’t let bhaiya cut off your locks, you will be girl, not bwoy! Kaatney do, see good man, gentle man, hair uncle.” Hairy uncle would’ve been closer to the truth- the man had hair plentiful.
I get the gender bias, and it irks me. The kid would not stop protesting, and my gentle pedicurist begins cruelly grinning at the little fella’s plight, urging at me to join him. Why must they bring the kid here, I am thinking. The locks could just as easily have been chopped off at home, and the day’s job would’ve been done. But style is something else- his 3 year old mop had to be styled. Good lord!
I sit there wondering how to smother them all. I decide against doling out advice. Who was I to tell them anything, although they were in a public space, destroying my peace of mind- and ruining the hour that I had culled out of a very busy schedule. No problem. Aaaargh!
I try the novel again, hoping to restore some inner balance via Padma’s story. The mobile rings. I ignore it, till I note the face displaying, <maa>. Panic. I had forgotten to check in with my mother. I decide to shut the quiet novel, and speak to maa.
“Hello dear, are you okay, you sound tired?” and I haven’t spoken a word yet. See, this is it, mothers always know.
“No maa, I’m fine, energetic, bursting with kind thoughts,” I sarcastically mouth. It’s lost on her.
“Ah nice! I just thought you sounded tired.”
“No maa, am not. You slept well? Have you eaten?”
“Yes shona, I have slept very well, I have eaten well. I’m having a good time with my great grandson.” Music. If mother happy, child happy. No complaints.
“That’s great maa. Chalo, I’ll…..” And am interrupted.
“So what time are you leaving tomorrow?”
“Hehehe, I know that, what time dear?”
“11ish I guess. Not sure. Tomorrow is too far away for me to ponder upon time or any other such related philosophies,” I sardonically say, since I hear the little fella screeching, under the shine of the murderous scissor dangling from the expert hands of the petrified male hairdresser! Should I be seeing some humour in this, I wonder.
Apparently my mother does :
“Hehehe, you are so funny Reena. Okay then, I’ll let you work.”
“Yes maa, am very busy right now, I’ll call you tomorrow with my exact time of departure,” and I disconnect. I’m irritable, of course I am. Wouldn’t you be? Maa was sweet, but not enough to take my mind off the little fella who’s high-pitches are spreading like dark ink in Kabi. I’m certain every employee is cursing their owner for not putting her foot down on small people being disbarred from entering Kabi.
How long does it take for such a small head to be styled? Gosh!
“Madam, chai, coffee, kuchh?”
“Nahin, thank you!” Go away. Leave me alone. Everyone out of Kabi
No one moves. The music plays, a song by Linkin Park, I woefully
“Everything you say to me Takes me one step closer to the edge
And I’m about to break”
How appropriate is that! I let out a laugh, much to the pedicurist’s consternation. I look away. I open the novel. An immediate
interruption, as if I am being watched, and the minute I decide to
read, the novel’s opening switches on the interruption switch :
“Kaunsa nail colour, dekhiye naa.” says dear Parmod. (which nail varnish would you like, please choose.)
What!? I had missed the massage, I had missed the deeply pleasant
feel of my muscles being made to relax. I would have to pay
Now I am faced with the tough choice of nail varnish- colours galore, and none that I like. Life is filled with sudden anguish.
I choose a deep purple, reflecting my irritation, and ask him to use a silver one to finish off, what I consider a stylish look. I don’t really care anymore. Actually, I’m okay now. I’m done. I decide to return another day, when my weary feet ache and I can’t deny them any longer, and I will have prayed to the Lords above, to grant me a day of pedicure minus interruptions. I will reject my mobile, discarding it in a bin at home, and will come unarmed, and re-enter Kabi, with an
open mind- one that will cherish any and every experience.
Amen to that.
My feet look as rested, as my mind is restless. I am seated in front of a mirror now, and wondering when I grew this old. Suddenly I am
“Pressure theek hai?”
Ah! My shoulders are being massaged. I didn’t know they did a
shoulder press after a pedicure. This morning isn’t over yet, and it might still be salvaged after all. This is divine. But I can’t peel
my eyes away from the vision of me, and I shudder. I am aged. I am
ancient. The journey downhill hath begun. The day is a seesaw between joy and agony. I will survive yet.
And then I hear someone say, “Okay, happy now? Dekho, kitna good bwoy ho tum. Ab Lollipop milega!” (see, what a good boy you are, now you will receive a lollipop!)
The little fella, in the meantime, has been styled and is about to be rewarded for having yelled his lungs out for the better part of my
time in the beauty parlour. Seesaw is stuck downhill. God save our
kids from us parents! I cast a last forlorn look at the mirror,
before paying my bill, and quite automatically thank the receptionist for ‘an awesome experience!” when I am asked, “How was it Madam,
happy, satisfied?” How can you spoil someone else’s day by speaking
the ugly (pun intended) truth about yours? You just mutter, and leave.
There is no ‘comments notebook’ otherwise I could’ve possibly put
down my mean thoughts.