The need to look beautiful is a deep seated desire in most women, even one as laid back as me. But looking pretty takes work, so this week I finally dragged my lazy self to the local salon for a relaxed session of primping and pampering. It was only after going there that I realized how long it had actually been. Most of the professionals were new and I was assigned a sweet girl named Laxmi.

There’s just something about a salon that makes you unwind and open up. Perhaps the very act of permitting another to step into our personal space and take the liberty of touching us, breaks down some invisible barrier that would have otherwise taken many many more conversations. I recall reading somewhere that the very idea of beauty salons was started by the ladies of the French court who wanted a place where they could meet up and discuss not just fashion but other intellectual topics, which they were otherwise not invited to discuss by the men of those times. So it is but natural that this is a place where conversations flow.

We started with a head massage which was like the ice breaker session, introductions were made, basic information was exchanged. Laxmi was 23, lived with her parents and brother’s family, and had been in this profession for the last 6 years. I told her all about my sabbatical, my son, etc etc. By the time she started on my pedicure she was admonishing me to take better care of myself. It was during this that I actually had a clear look at her. Something was tattooed on her left forearm. It was probably a name but was blurred. Either the tattoo artist had done a really bad job, or she had tried to have it removed. I was about to ask her about it, when suddenly I noticed the scar running across her wrist. Had a bangle burnt her? My eyes flitted to the other wrist. Both wrists! All at once I felt sucker punched. This sweet girl with whom I had been chatting for the last hour had probably attempted to take her own life.

For an instant I did not know how to react. I was just thankful that I had not stupidly asked her about the tattoo. We continued our casual banter until I left. But inside, my mind has been in a tizzy. How desperate and hopeless must she have felt to take such an extreme step! I’ve never had a close friend or relative commit or attempt suicide, so I won’t pretend to understand what they experienced. But I know children who are suffering the aftermath of one. It used to make me really angry, until a friend who had been through depression shared her agony with me. Now it makes me sad.

Laxmi is going to be in my prayers from now on. Whatever her daemons, I hope she has vanquished them, or at the very least come to terms with them. I will pray she stays safe and finds peace.

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This post is part of SoCS written for the prompt “pretty

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