I don’t know if I have forgotten her. If I had, I wouldn’t be writing about her. There is such contradiction inherent in Cheryl Strayed’s writing prompt ‘Write about someone you forgot’ that it is capable of causing nuclear fusion.
She was a practicing lawyer in Pakistan. Now in USA, she managed her toddlers full-time, while running a one-woman beauty parlour at home on the side. Her husband was a cab driver (I think. I forgot, remember?).
Practicing law in USA was not an option. She would have to learn everything anew, the laws and regulations of USA, take a brand new set of exams, acquire new certifications… acquire citizenship first, I presume. It’s quite likely that she and her husband did not have US citizenship yet.
I used to go to her to get my ‘eyebrows done’. She was clearly still an apprentice at this newly adopted craft. It used to hurt somewhat when she used to do my eyebrows. It hurt much lesser than at a threading service at the Charlotte mall. It hurt much more than with the lady I go to here in Kolkata.
It is an ancient tradition of mankind that a lot of light-hearted, open sharing occurs at barber’s shops and beauty parlours (salons) across the world. This tradition is probably more ancient than Sanaatan Dharma, hailing right from when the first monkey picked and snacked at lice from the second monkey under the fuzzy love of the winter sun. So that is how I got to know of my forgotten friend’s past life as a lawyer.
“Wow! What a contrast! A lawyer and a beautician… The choices people make”, I thought. I never asked why she and her husband made that choice, why they left their good life in Pakistan with a large family of multiple relatives and had come to USA. There must have been a compelling reason. I wasn’t interested. I was engrossed in deeper questions such as, to do or not to do (PhD in Computer Science).
“Should I bleach this hair?” she asked, referring to the copious hair growing on my cheeks.
“No thanks. I am fine with it”, I answered.
“It doesn’t look good.”
“Whatever. I don’t really care.”
Every beautician at every beauty parlour I have been to, has ardently advised that I do something about the hair on my cheek.
“Ok fine. I’ll get it done when I get married”, I finally quipped.
So we laughed and made plans and pacts. It was decided that she will do my make up when I get married. I promised that I will send her plane tickets so she can come honor her end of the pact. We did not go into the complications of visas and warring nations. It was implicitly decided that the world would have gotten over such silliness by then.
So dear reader, that is one reason why I cannot marry – because I have forgotten my friend. Or maybe I haven’t. Maybe I am already married.