The girl’s make over:
After the food dilemma is solved, your mother now shifts all her critical attention to you. She takes one long smoldering look at you, the specimen that she has always been less than proud of, and heaves a sigh.
You wait with baited breath the string of wistful exclamations and sure enough, your mother doesn’t disappoint.
“Wish you were a few inches taller”.
” Why does your skin have these marks? Can you not do something about them?”
“Sigh! All I wanted was one light-skinned daughter. Three daughters, all dark. None of you took after me. This is what you get for marrying an ugly man”.
“Let’s make the most of the next three days. I don’t want them to know that you have bad skin and dry hair”.
Needless to say, this type of commentary on your appearance never leaves you with the type of confidence that is already not a part of you.
The first order of business is to get you introduced to an aesthetician. This woman, who used to have a mediocre salon just six months ago, now claims to be an aesthetician. Now it would be better for all parties concerned to not delve into a research into any formal education that she has acquired to elevate herself from Salon Aunty to aesthetician. That knowledge isn’t going to let anybody sleep peacefully at night. Suffice would be to say that the extremely suspect environment that this “aesthetician” has created at her place of work appears to be a cross between a brothel and a backstage for a cheap Umer Sharif stage show.
When your mother showed so much concern for your skin and hair and nails you hoped that she would be taking you to a top class operation. When she constantly reminded you of your less than pretty looks you had secretly wished for her to shell out enough money that you could go to one of those salons that have a ‘s at the end like Nabila’s or Shamain’s or the like. The thing that you hadn’t expected was for your mom to dump you off in the hands of the neighborhood salon Aunty who, just because this is her job, also handles a huge clientele of the Karachi transvestites.
But you find another silver lining in this cloud. Because your mom’s worry for your body isn’t matched by her choice of salon, you are secretly happy that she probably doesn’t think your skin is that bad.
Sitting in salon Aunty’s creaky chair is somewhat of a grounding experience. First of all, this is probably what convicted criminals feel when they sit in the electric chair. Or school kids feel when they sit in the principal’s office. Or a husband feels when he’s waiting for his wife to send another shoe flying at him because of something that his mother did. This feeling is a combination of dread, anticipation, doom and fear. The overall feeling of this chair is of death. Slow and painful death.
Salon Aunty approaches. She has two sharp-looking instruments in her hands. She doesn’t ask you if you’re ready and immediately makes a lunge at your neck. After firmly securing your neck under her arm pits, which should’ve been washed before she took people under her literal wing, she sets about trying to pop your pimples. You can feel the pimples popping. Along with the pimples she has also popped some natural bumps in your skin without really asking you if these are architectural faults or if this havoc is in any way hormone related.
You pity yourself, as the blood starts dripping down your chin. Is this what your life has come to? This woman, who used to work as a threading lady up until a few weeks ago, is now in charge of your face like a plastic surgeon. You point out timidly that she is being a little cavalier with your skin but she hushes you saying ” I’m not done yet”.
She’s not done yet? She’s not done yet? Stop her, someone.
You realize that you’re no longer silently thinking your rebuttal to this extremely suspicious talent for a make over. You’re actually screaming.
Your mother comes rushing in. She takes one look at you and gasps. She embarks on a strong-worded monologue against the salon woman and pulls you out of there.
Seriously, you’ve never really felt so loved and protected by your mother.On the way home your mother declares that salons are so overrated and that she should’ve never fed into this type of popular culture and that you would’ve been just as well-served by the neighborhood mask-making Aunty.
Long story short, you buy some skin and hair essentials from the neighborhood facial mask making Aunty and come home.
As your mom is reeling off instructions from the back of the packs about usage and all, you’re secretly vowing to never use them. The battlefield that some women consider your face is in direct antagonism with the love that you have for your face. But your mom doesn’t agree. She tells you that the reason why she still looks so young that all the men in the neighborhood and family are after her is because of all the natural skin and hair remedies that she has used. You smile with your mom, deeply aware of your mon’s overweight body habitus coupled with a face that has been prematurely lined with wrinkles and frowns coupled with some seriously bad hair dye choices that she has made over the years. You don’t say anything though. Some people call your mom a Baby Elephant but you keep that knowledge to yourself. At least one woman should be happy in this household with the way she looks.
But it looks like your mom won’t leave you without putting the mask on you. She opens the pack labeled “Multani Clay”. You’re pretty sure some animal excreta makes that smell but you can’t argue after the assault at the salon. You just put it on.
Next your mom lathers your hair with baking soda, eggs and yogurt, a concoction that the mask Aunty had recommended. You let your mom apply it to the entire length of your hair and decide to take a nap while the “magic” is happening.
Meanwhile your mom calls a woman from her school days to see if her grand daughter, who isn’t even fifteen, is available for doing your make up on the big day.