I felt very exhausted today. All I needed was some self-pampering to forget the entangled hassles of the office. A good spa and a relaxed grooming session seemed perfect! Without any delay, I dialed the number saved in my phone and my appointment was confirmed within no time. As a loyal customer, probably this is the little special treatment that I am entitled to. A reward for spending money consistently every month to maintain my just average looks in this world which is obsessed with glamourous looks & the visible outer layer of beauty. What hides beneath those deceiving looks is no one’s concern in today’s fast-paced world where the focus is mostly on instant gratification, the haste to update one’s status; be it online or offline! Well, nonetheless, sometimes it becomes a rule to go with the flow and hence all I wanted today was to flow with all my heart’s desire.
I wrapped up my work and quickly headed towards my little time of self-indulgence and self-love, if I can call it so! A time where nothing else mattered but me! I could just forget the world for all I care. There was a smile on my face, thinking about the rejuvenation, the ‘paid’ pampering that I would get.
“Madam, where have you been so long? Welcome, please …welcome! We have been wondering about your whereabouts for such a long time! Ohhh… see how much you have tanned yourself!” Sangita, a woman in her late forties who owned the parlor, welcomed me with a big smile.
I, felt relaxed the moment Titli, Sangita’s assistant, switched on the AC! “Madam, which facial today?”, Sangeeta enquired. Before I could answer her, she had already made up her mind. She continued, “Titli, just bring me that anti-tan scrub and prepare the Lotus Herbals Facial Kit for Madam, the best one available. Just what is needed for her skin to come back to it’s normal self. Madam, you should come regularly, every fifteen days! See how dull your face looks. You are gifted with good skin but you take it for granted!”
By the time all the arrangements were made, I had already changed into comfortable clothes and laid down on the assigned place, ready to step into my land of thoughts, away from all the worries.
The business of beauty thrives well due to the routine and cyclic nature of nurturing one’s self-image. Its a recurring pattern and that keeps the ball rolling! There were other ladies in the parlor all lining up to get their share of treatment . At least when the layers of monotony and tiredness got scrubbed off, the illusion of becoming prettier seemed like a reality for women who tirelessly perform multiple tasks of managing home, relationships, upbringing of kids and office tasks if working. These sessions give them a feeling of warmth, which probably they miss in their daily lives; a word of appreciation, a hug ,an embrace, a thank you note or even a smile from their very near and dear ones ,probably because they are taken for granted for being caring and compassionate!
More than being the point of beauty enhancement, these parlors serve as gossip points. The ladies feel brighter while leaving the parlor not only because of the attention that they get, which probably they lack in their real lives but also because they could talk their heart out and maybe put across their frustrations, inhibitions and can also show their ugly side by cursing the one’s who might have harassed them outside the doors of the parlor.
As Sangeeta started cleansing my face, I felt a sense of calmness glide into my skin slowly. I was about to enter my state of short trance when a loud burst of giggle made me come back to my senses. Despite my best efforts to avoid listening to the gossip, I could hear everything clearly, as I tried hard to keep my eyes closed to avoid any distraction. I did not want to waste this precious moment of ‘me’ time.
“Did you listen about the new couple of the town?”, asked one of the customers.
“Arey, are you talking about that Lady Professor? The one who is all stylish and is talk of the whole college and for that matter whole town?”, asked another .
“Yes, yes, what did she do now? I don’t know why the college had to even employ her? They say she teaches economics well. My foot! Even the Principal is a womanizer as per the rumors! Otherwise, despite so many intelligent candidates, why was that bitch finalized in the interview?”
“I agree, what will she teach the kids? She could not manage the economics of her own life and she will train young brains!”, sarcastically remarked another.
“Arey, that is why now she has become successful in taming a young brains for life!”
Ha ha ha ha … They all burst out laughing loudly!
“And what was the need to put it all over their social media handles? From Instagram reels to Facebook stories to even Whatsapp DP!! And now a full twitter thread about their disgraceful love-story !! My God, where has all the sense vanished? This is what is called Kal Yug! How can you even, I mean agreed, he has passed out from the college now, but he was once her student! Look at the age gap !! And most surprising… why would a bachelor get married to a divorcee, who is way older than him? This is ‘love’ they say !! Love… My foot !! I have been married for a decade now and do not even understand what is love! Marriage is a social obligation that’s all and the lust vanishes once you have kids !!”, said a lady strongly.
“But what is wrong with the families? How can they agree to this? The pictures, omg …did you see how beautiful they looked. The only odd thing was that she looked like his elder sister!”
There was another spell of loud laughter!
By this time, my facial was over and I was directed to sit on a reclining chair so that I could finish threading my eyebrows and give it the required trimming that it demanded. Well this is the most crucial task. If it goes wrong , then only God can save one. I was ready for it and had started pulling the skin around my eyebrow tightly with both my hands while Sangeeta held the thread with one of her hand and the other end with her mouth ready to pluck each odd strand of hair to give it the required arch. I had been pretending to not hear a single word all this while.
I closed my eyes while the gossip continued.
“Hey but tell me how did it all happen? “,asked one.
“They say, Umesh , the guy wrote letters of love to her and proposed to her.”
“And do you think it is true?” ,enquired the other with an excitement in her voice.
“I can bet my life on it. It is that characterless woman who made that innocent little kid lose track of his life! That slut had it all planned! I tell you! She has already ruined a man’s life . They say she had multiple partners. Her ex -husband was a banker ! Decent man ! She could have adjusted like all of us. Well she probably wanted more liberty ! What a promiscuous female !” Everyone started cursing her as if she had caused some personal damage to them … without having any solid proof or evidence that could add some substance to their tittle-tattle.
These strong comments hit me hard , I could not ignore it anymore and abruptly looked towards the group with a jerk as a reflex! No doubt, I received a cut on my forehead from the thread!
“Madam, please be still. See what happened now. It has started bleeding. Titli ,please get me the bottle of Dettol and some ointment… fast “, Sangeeta called out!
I somehow did not feel any pain owing to the bruise at that perticular moment. All I could remember was the pain with which I had signed my divorce papers and the unfolding of circumstances that led me to take that dreaded path despite my best efforts to save my marriage. I could see everything in a flashback, the eroding of trust, the backstab, the ugly court scenes …everything .That pain today seemed futile in front of such cheap judgmental remarks from the group of women , well for another woman!
How bruised as a society are we to not have the ability to tolerate someone’s happiness? Do we mock certain people for being able to stand up for what their heart desires for or do we, unknowingly mock ourselves because in order to fit into the society, we could never stand up against any ill-treatment pointed towards us? These thoughts made me restless. As a woman, I felt choked, a little ashamed of my gender, who (though not all )despite wanting to be treated equally with their counterparts, many a times, forget to relate to another woman’s bruised soul, let alone tending to it!
A tiny drop of tear escaped from the corner of my eye.
“Madam, is it hurting too much? The cut is a little deep. You have to be careful, na?”,Sangeeta admonished me while I nodded silently with a fake smile on my face.
A bruised soul cries silent tears!
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