Sometimes, I think my job is a noble one.
Of course, I’m not a doctor or a teacher or something like that – but you have to admit that there is something noble in making people more confident in themselves. In making someone feel younger. More attractive. More woman.
I’ve learned that people are their most honest and vulnerable selves when laid out under the bright light of a beauty parlour.
Everyone who enters Saloni Beauty Parlour leaves a slightly different person. They walk out with a spring in their step. A little bit more ready to conquer their various agendas – a big presentation, a school reunion, anniversary dinner, a husband who hasn’t looked at them like that in a while.
I realise that I am subtly enabling the silent revolutions of so many women.
Like Mrs. Mehta, who refuses to get older, coming by to set tell-tale signs of aging ablaze in orange henna.
Or Ruchi who comes by for a shorter haircut each time because her husband prefers long hair.
And how can I forget Nisha, who dyes her hair electric blue because her mother says a tattoo is too permanent.
I realise I am a small, but tangible part of the personal struggles and triumphs of so many women.
Like Meenu, who stopped playing basketball because boys started noticing the hair on her legs.
Or Swati, who was never bothered by the colour of her skin but began fairness facials when her family started looking for a match.
Or take Anjana for instance, who would always ask for only half-leg waxing up to the seam of her uniform but came by for a full-body wax because someone would be seeing under her skirt soon.
And of course Zara, who spends hours straightening her natural curls before wrapping them snugly in a burqa.
But every now and then, I have my doubts. I wonder if I am just a cog in the wheel of a larger system. That carefully removes the insecurities of the women that walk in, and fuels their insecurities until they return again.
Sometimes, I can’t tell if my job is noble or not. All I can tell you, is that everyone who enters Saloni Beauty Parlour leaves a slightly different person. They walk out with a spring in their step. A little bit more ready to conquer their various agendas.
A little more confident in their strong and subtle attempts at defiance, seeking acceptance, establishing control, and time-travel.
Making me realise that our confidence and insecurities are two sides of the same coin. Two lovers in a toxic relationship. Always finding their way back to each other no matter what. Like that Mona’s eyebrows.
Photo: Straits Times