i was enjoying a perfectly relaxing afternoon on my couch when mother decided we both needed pedicures. this meant i had to be her chauffeur which i hate because she likes to pretend she's my personal GPS and she blocks my view of traffic. also there's the trampling of my cds and the complaining that the car is too dirty. mother's car is always impeccable.
once we got to the place she took forever to pick out a colour. i was already seated at this point and trying to find a place for all my possessions namely my book, keys, water and sunglasses. i had decided my bag was too heavy to carry. i'm stupid like that. mother finally made her way to her seat with the only colour she ever picks - maroonish red or as i like to call it aunty colour.
i told her that instead of wasting ten minutes she should have just let me pick the colour since i already knew what it was going to be because it's always the exact same shade of maroon.
her response was to gasp at my pink. "it's too pink. also dark colours last longer." what?
i settled into my chair and started reading my book which was no easy task because mother didn't think to bring a book. magazines aren't really her thing which meant she was about to start talking any second now. and since it didn't look like anyone else in the room spoke english i prepared to have her talk to me for the next 40 minutes odd minutes, which was why, i was a little shocked when she began talking in vietnamese. mother lived in vietnam for a few years as a teenager and she's very proud of the fact that she can still speak a couple of broken sentences. the girls stared at her for a second before they realized she was attempting to converse with them in their language. once they kind of understood what she was saying they got really excited. and loud. they even got their friend who up until that point was perfectly happy falling asleep against the wall, to join them. they seemed curious to learn where this lady had picked up such refined vietnamese.
"your dotah speak too?"
"no my daughter useless."
at that point mother noticed that my chair was not vibrating.
"is your massage not working?"
"i don't know ma."
"put it on!" she reached over to grab the remote.
i hate massage chairs. you have a choice between rolling, kneading and pulse. the latter just hurts my back so i went with the rolling even though it felt like two hands pushing me out of the chair. i was scared i would fall right out and into the water. plus i think it's wise that my foot remain steady when there's a lady attacking my cuticles with sharp objects. mother doesn't believe in not using something that's free. if it comes with the pedicure why wouldn't you use it? she declared that she wanted a massage chair for her birthday. i wondered if it was too late to move to another chair before she started asking for prices. mother loves to buy things that are not for sale. and she'll bargain with you too. just then the door opened and a giant man walked in. he wanted a manicure. nothing wrong with that except mother was staring, mouth covered. i felt bad for the girl who had to help him because he had incredibly hairy hands.
now that their spare friend was occupied the girls got back to work and mother was bored again. she yawned in the hopes that she'd be offered some tea. that sort of thing only works in india. mother having realized that turned to me.
"remember when you were small and you used to come with me to nefertiti?"
everyone turned to look at mother. this was her cue to start the story. "she was really young you know, like 7 or 8 and she would come with me to get her nails done. and while i would get a facial she would sit with the girls and ask them to french braid her hair. she used to have really nice hair. long and straight." she shook her head in remembrance of what used to be my hair. everyone including hairy man turned to examine my hair. i wanted to go hide in the back room. luckily for me two more ladies walked in and mother didn't have everybody's attention anymore. i decided my nails were dry enough and started putting on my sandals in record speed. mother clearly wasn't ready to leave yet and reluctantly got out of her massage chair. her three new friends waved goodbye. she promised to come back soon and learn more vietnamese. i yelled xin chao as i ran to my car before she invited them over for a meal.