• 07 Jul - 13 Jul, 2018
  • Ayesha Adil
  • Fiction

As a teacher, being on holiday was not everything that people imagine. No doubt it was nice and a sought after much needed break but after few weeks of sleeping late and waking up late, having leisurely meals and watching too many movies, it became a bit of a drag. I mean, I have already spent my holiday and was home now; adopted a stray kitten, fought and made up with Fawad countless times and now, what was there to do? The house was squeaky clean; I don’t think I could have made it any neater or cleaner. Noor’s nursery was still incomplete and shut down but I couldn’t find the emotional energy to cross that terrain yet.

I was epically and royally bored and there wasn’t anyone that could do anything to help me, even Fawad. He had his work and his time management so to speak, kept him busy. I had basically done everything that gave me any sense of freedom or relaxation, rather robotically. Saman and I met up a couple of times but we both knew that we were each other’s company for the next few months at

work but we saw no point of “catching up” too frequently.

So this is the adult life. Bored, stranded and lonely? I wondered.

But sitting in front of the TV and zoning out kind of summed it up for me.

I needed a creative intervention and I needed it right away.

As if to answer my prayers, my phone rang. It was Saman, my true friend.

“Hey Saima! How are you?” she always sounded so cheerful.

“Hello Saman! I’m good, what about you?”

“Can you be ready in ten minutes?” Saman always got to the point immediately.

“Why?” I was already used to her abruptness but I still needed to know what she was cooking now.

“We are going to the spa for some well-deserved indulgence and pampering. Get ready and I’ll pick you up in ten minutes! Don’t be late!”

Wow! It was tough work being this girl’s friend. I texted Fawad just to see if it was okay with him and begin to get ready. Fawad replied back telling me to enjoy myself. I smiled a little. Once again I thought how lucky I was to have him in my life. If only our family could be complete… sigh.

With that thought, my phone buzzed and it was Saman at my door.

I grabbed my purse and patted little Tabby and told him to be careful and stepped outside, locking the front door. Tabby’s stomach was full and he would go down for his nap soon.

Saman was smiling at me, sitting in the driver’s seat.

I sat down next to her and smiled back.

“You’re a sight for sore eyes. I’ve missed you!” I greeted and hugged her.

“I know! I missed you too!” With that, she started the engine and revved up the car into motion.

Her carefree attitude was infectious. Why couldn’t all of us be like Saman? Why did life have to beat us down to a pulp and expect us to put on a happy face when we were in fact, dying inside?

Honestly there were days in my life where I could feel the grave calling out to me. I yearned for it too, strangely enough. That’s a dark thought on a pleasant morning. What’s wrong with you Saima? The voice in my head needed a break from my craziness too, I could tell. I should behave now and try to have some fun.

I turned to Saman and asked, “So, why the sudden urge to go to the spa today? School is not due to be open in another 4 weeks. Is there an event coming up?”

“Saima, Life is an event! Why don’t you get that? We need to spruce up things for you. I miss my old friend. I need to see your old person back again. So I’m here, not only to cheer you up but to make you look better and feel better about life and yourself. You’re letting yourself go and that’s not a pretty sight. Look at you! Ewww….”

Only Saman could get away with talking to me like that. I glanced at myself in the side-view mirror. Was I that bad? I looked ok, I guess. I had some dark circles and yes, I admit I needed some facial grooming but was I such a turn off? Maybe that explained Fawad’s recent distance from me. I wish Saman hadn’t been so honest. I felt my mind pulling me into a dark corner yet once again.

Regardless of what I looked like, I knew I had lost my spark. I was not the same person and even though I was trying really hard, I felt that old Saima would never come back.

“Oh Saima, I didn’t mean to make you sad. I mean, let’s be honest. When we take care of ourselves we’re better equipped to look after others. Plus, when you look at yourself in the mirror after a trendy haircut and new hair colour, you will feel younger and prettier. It’s just what you need. Health and happiness doesn’t come out of a vitamin bottle or even a bottle of anti-depressants. Health comes out of the choices we make in our lives and our positive outlook. Happiness comes out of experiences and conscious efforts of keeping ourselves and others happy. But most importantly, by taking care of ourselves. Do you copy darling?”

“Yes, ma’am!” I nodded my head like a chidden child before I sparked another debate.

“Now, that’s like my good girl. Smile please!” She glared at me after that comment and I flashed my shinny whites to save myself another tirade.

Everyone needed a friend like Saman. She had a wonderful heart and she was so full of goodness. Very few people would go out of their way, like she did for me. I loved her for her humanity.

With that we reached the spa.

As we walked in, I noticed how bustling it seemed. I whispered to Saman, asking if she had booked us. She hushed me and told me to just relax and enjoy myself.

She made me sit down like a child and told me to wait while she walked to the reception and exchanged a few words while smiling and nodding and looking at my direction a couple of times. Then she came and led me into the main salon.

She whispered something to one of the service girls before ushering me into a chair.

I protested slightly but she glared at me again signalling me to keep quiet. Saman was acting very strange. For a person who always liked to be in control, yours truly, this was getting to be slightly awkward.

After another consultation with the manager, Saman made her way back to me and smiled.

“Now look Saima, I don’t want a peep from you the entire time. I’ve ordered a haircut and dye for you. I’ve chosen the style and colour too. Today, I’m your personal stylist. After that, you are getting a wax and a massage. Then, a manicure plus a pedicure. I hope you’ve told your hubby that you’re not getting home too soon because this will take a while! And don’t start protesting because I don’t want to hear any nonsense. You deserve this!”

Even if I wanted to protest, I couldn’t. I could see that Saman would not take no for an answer and any objections that I made would only serve to fuel her ambition further. I felt that I had been kidnapped but unlike the usual torture, I was being subjected to a physical over haul. I was going to be transformed into a new me and I had no say in it. I couldn’t blame Saman, she knew me too well. If I had sat down and discussed this, I would have overanalysed the situation. Then in the end, I would have done a cost estimate and given up the whole agenda. I would have groomed myself at home, even given myself the hair cut for free.

“I know what you’re thinking. You’re doing the math in your head. Well, don’t worry about it. They’re running some summer deals and it’s like a combo. Besides, this is my birthday gift to you in advance. So, you just relax now.”

I smiled at Saman. Was she my guardian angel?

I was already feeling really relaxed. The hair dresser was giving me a rigorous yet soothing head massage while wetting my scalp and strands. She then began to part my hair and prepare the strands for the cut that was about to follow. I almost began to feel sleepy.

Through the mirror, I saw Saman taking a seat behind me then take out a book from her bag to read. She was too far away to talk to. I was wondering why she wasn’t getting anything done but I knew I couldn’t shout out to her, it would be too rude. So, I just sat there while the hair dresser worked on the curly thick mass that I call my hair.

While my new found friend Ruby, the hair stylist was busy with my hair, I found my mind wandering into many different directions.

I remembered the first day

we landed in London. I remembered it all too well.

Checking into the hotel and unpacking; at least taking out some essentials, took out a small chunk of the day for the both of us. Fawad had wanted to stay indoors and finish his paperwork. I was antsy to explore London. I had waited so long.

I told Fawad that I would be okay on my own and picked up my bag and ventured out into the streets of London. It was early evening and the air was cool and fresh. The hotel concierge had provided me with a map of London along with the bus and train routes. He also gave me his card in case I got lost and needed any help.

So I had thought to myself back then, “Let the adventures begin!!” quite excitedly.

As I stepped out into the curb, I had my thoughts and my sense of exploration on my mind. I felt excited and exhilarated.

The royal baby was born about a month ago and the air was still new with the baby fever. Fawad was concerned of how that would affect me. I told him that I was okay with it. The world goes on and people around me will be having babies. Every single birth should not be the reason for me to go into a severe depression. Besides, I had been bearing the brunt of being childless for many years already, and I could take this blow emotionally without crumbling.

On top of it all, I was genuinely happy with the new baby coming into the world. I liked Kate Middleton, HRH the Duchess of Cambridge. I admired her grace and the way she handled the pressures of royal life and the way she carries herself publically.

She was the epitome of a perfect woman. As a woman, I could sense the amount of stress that went into any regular day for her. And after having her babies, I admired her even more. With the immense responsibility of motherhood, she still managed to keep it all together and stay poised and elegant. She definitely had all my best wishes. She came out as a “real” human being, a loving and caring wife and a wonderful mother. The Royal family was very lucky to have her in their family.

I remember scanning the streets and consulting my map occasionally as I began my escapade.

The whole idea of this trip was to find a way to start again. I wanted to heal and I wanted to help Fawad heal too. At least, he was busy with his work and I had all of the vacation ahead of me, alone with my thoughts. I realized I needed a plan, a major distraction, otherwise my mind itself; my thoughts would be the death of me.

If we hadn’t gone on that trip I would be cleaning the house as a preoccupation. Was this trip such a good idea? I thought to myself in hindsight. It was so hard to silence my thoughts.

Me and my silliness. My mind was playing tricks on me. How stupid was I back then? A free vacation, the whole of London before me and a pseudo honeymoon waiting to begin, how stupid was I?

I remembered vividly of how I searched for a game plan to make it the best trip ever.

I closed my eyes while Ruby’s scissors were snipping about my ears. Her expert and confident hands had a mesmerising affect.

I began to relive that first day in London almost as if it was happening all over again. I began to doze off slightly while struggling to keep my head up straight.

In my subconscious mind between waking and sleeping I dreamt that day vividly.

I saw a quaint looking coffee shop and I walked in.

“Coffee luv?” A very British looking girl asked me as I settled into a corner table.

“Yes, with milk and sugar. Do you serve bagels?”

“Yes luv. One coffee, milk and sugar and a bagel coming up. Do you want it with cream cheese?”

That cockney British accent! Wow!

“Yes please.” I smiled. I was feeling better already.

As I waited for my coffee and bagel, I began to study my map. There were certain sites that I knew I had to visit, like Madame Tussaud’s, London Tower, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. I also wanted to see the Shakespeare Globe; I thought I would check for the schedule of the upcoming plays online. I also wanted to get my shopping done.

How could I squeeze in all of this in a fortnight? That was my greatest concern. And would Fawad be available for the sight-seeing?

I would have to consult him on that. Otherwise I was on my own. It wasn’t an entirely happy thought but I had to visit these places before we left. I couldn’t be so close to all this and not make the most of it.

My coffee and bagel were beyond delicious. I devoured it all up in no time.

I headed back to the hotel to share with Fawad all my plans.

He was still deep in his work.

He didn’t even look up when I came in.

to be continued...