I watch in rapt admiration as she creates intricate designs on my hand. Her movements are quick and graceful, each stroke of her finger a flick of a magic wand. I am preview to an artist at work. How satisfying and fulfilling it must be to be able to conjure beauty out of swirls and strokes. Elegant hands covered with blotches of henna, every blotch a different shade, each shade evidence of a unique masterpiece. I look up in awe to see eyes as focused as lasers. Yet every now and then those eyes dart furtively towards the clock. A barely discernible frown. An irritated twitch of the mouth. I smile at her and she looks back at me with a gaunt expressionless stare.
She cracks her neck letting out a sigh. A sigh so resigned that it almost goes unnoticed, yet so weary that it dissipates out into the vastness of the room like palpable waves of desolation. “It is getting late madam”, she tells me as she twists her weather-beaten scarf. I notice the little tear in the corner that has been hastily darned in. I notice the cheap worn out slippers in the corner. I notice the empty shopping bag beside it. I no longer see an artist. Instead I see the woman who just wants to finish her job and finally get home to her hungry children. The ripples of her sigh finally coalesce upon me and I look down at my purse, my own idealism submitting to life’s harsh reality.


2 thoughts on “Henna

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