blog post of Akshata Shanbhag

THE HAIRDRESSER

Ria and Avani were childhood friends staying in the same neighbourhood. They used to spend a lot of time together initially but then later as they grew up and both had their respective share of duties and responsibilities, they could hardly spend quality time with each other.  The interval had further expanded when they got married and had to move out from their maternal homes.

Ria was a working mother to a four-year-old boy – Arnav. Her schedule was so tight, that she barely had time for herself. After dropping her son at school she would straight head to the gym and later her dancing school. She was a trained Kathak dancer and had opened a school where Ria along with a few budding talented dancers were into teaching students. The school also taught other dance forms. Many aspiring candidates were a part of it.  Ria’s husband Ram was an architect and he had a buzzing routine too.

Avani was a mother to a one-year-old baby girl – Trishala. She had quit her lucrative job after giving birth to Trishala. Avani wanted to spend the initial few years with the child and resume work after that. Avani’s husband Alok had their own business. They were into construction. It was a joint venture along with family. Trishala had kept Avani on her toes.

It was the end of March. The temperature had already been soaring high. It was the beginning of summer. Ria’s son Arnav had finished his exams and Ria had decided that she would take a break from work and visit her parents. She decided to call Avani and check with her if she could also visit her parents so that they could meet up and spend some time with each other.

Avani was playing with Trishala when she had heard her phone ring-
” Hello, Ria. How are you? It’s been long.”
” I am good Avani. Thank you. How about you ??”
” I am good too. Busy with Trishala .”
” Avani, I am planning to visit my parents this weekend.
I have taken a break from work for fifteen days. Plus Arnav has holidays too.
Can you make it as well?? It’s been some time  that we have caught up .”

After a short pause-
” Hmmm… Yeah, that’s a good plan. Sure I will make it too. A small break from the daily humdrum.
Let us go and pamper ourselves.
There is a new salon and spa opened at the corner of the street.
My sister had been there. She had mentioned to me that their service is good. Let’s give it a try.”

“Oh! Is it. Fine, let’s check it out. Sure it’s decided then -We shall meet over the weekend and get ourselves pampered .” Ria had sounded excited.

Both of them had eagerly waited for the weekend to arrive. Finally, when the weekend had approached, both of them were at their maternal abode. It was a hot Sunday morning. Salon and spa followed by lunch seemed like a perfect plan for these two buddies.

Avani was waiting for Ria outside the Salon. When Ria had arrived, both had hugged each other.
” Nice to see you after a long time, Ria.”
” Yes. Same here Avani. Come let’s go inside and get ourselves pampered.”

At the reception-
” Hi, my name is Avani. This is my friend Ria. I had made an appointment. Haircut and massage. ”
The receptionist had checked the appointment book and informed them to be seated for their turn.

While they were waiting, they had begun chatting and gossiping. Both of them had lots to catch up on.
“So Ria how are things at home now ?” Just when Ria was about to share, the receptionist had arrived-
“Sorry ma’am we are short on staff today and all are busy. So we will not be able to accommodate both of them simultaneously for a haircut and massage. One of them will have to wait. ”
Avani was angry. ” I had made an appointment a week ago and now you tell me that we have to wait and it’s occupied.”
” Yes. I agree ma’am but the staff is on leave today. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Looked like Avani was in a mood to pick up a fight but Ria had quickly saved the receptionist from Avani’s rage.
” It’s okay Avani. Will come here next time. For now that we are here, let’s get a haircut and maybe a sauna if time permits?.”
Avani had calmed down and agreed with Ria.
” You go first Avani. Get a haircut. I will wait.”
” Are you sure Ria?”
” Yes. Definitely.”
” Ria, why do you want to wait in here? Come with me inside. ”
Both of them had walked into another room.
Avani had taken her place on the chair to get a haircut. While Ria had sat beside her.

The hairdresser had walked in and looked at Avani.
” Ma’am, how would you like your hair cut?”
Avani stared at the hairdresser. She was still digesting her rage.
” Well … Just make it short. Shoulder length. Keep it simple.  I have a toddler to take care of. Can’t manage any fancy looks. ”
Avani had a round face. The hairdresser had suggested that she could add a few layers to her hair so that it would go well with her face cut. Avani had agreed.

The hairdresser had made Avani wear the cutting cape and sprayed water on her hair.
” Ria, you were about to start something out there when the receptionist arrived and said the shortage of staff .”
Avani had sarcastically spoken the last sentence and had looked into the mirror while saying. She wanted to see if the hairdresser had noticed it.
Ria had smiled at Avani and had gestured to her not to elongate the matter further. She then began talking-
” Well Avani, where do I begin with? You know how my day is packed. To top it all, we have Chandra now.”
” Yes, Ria. I was about to ask you about her. I remember you telling me about it over the phone last time we spoke. You sounded paranoid. “

” Yes. I am totally upset. I don’t understand why Ram bought her home. He should have checked with me.
It’s not that I have a problem with her or I dislike her but you know it’s not easy looking after her.
You won’t believe how skinny she was when she came to stay with us. And now …Phew. I have to take her out. Spend time with her. I don’t have time for myself and now this is an additional burden.”

” You should have told Ram about it Ria that it’s hard for you to look after her .”
” I told him in many different ways but he is not ready to hear me out. Arnav likes her company too.”
” Just go and drop Chandra somewhere far when Ram is not at home. Tell him later that you lost her and make up some story.
” Maybe after that, he might change his mind and he won’t keep Chandra with you all anymore.”
” That sounds good. I shall think about it .”
The hairdresser had looked amused. She wanted to know who was this Chandra and what they wanted to do with her. On purpose, she was slow in cutting.

Ria continued-
” What else do you suggest Avani? I cannot discuss at home about Chandra. My parents will sympathise with her and Ram.
Little do they know how hard it is to look after all of them. “

Avani thought for a while …hmmm. Then she looked at the hairdresser.
” Are you listening to our conversation miss ?? You are taking a lot of time. My friend too is waiting. Will you make it fast ?”
” Yes, ma’am it’s almost done .”
” I am not giving a good review for your service. ”
Ria had taken her seat. She knew what she wanted. Ria had wavy hair. She just went for a straight haircut with side bangs.

She further continued-
” I have to get rid of her. I will think about it when I am here as to how I will execute the plan. When I get there, I shall see to it that my mission is accomplished. ”
Both of them spoke about ways to get rid of Chandra. Mostly some of the techniques they were joking about which was undoable. They just wanted to have some fun. But the hairdresser who had overheard the conversation was in a state of fix. She knew that Chandra’s life was in danger and these two could go to any extent to get rid of her. She wanted to talk about it to someone.

” Ma’am I am done. Just give me two minutes. Please be seated here. I will be right back. ”
After two minutes, she had walked in again.
” Ma’am two of our customers have cancelled their appointment. Both of you can go ahead with your message. Hair massage is complimentary. It’s on us .”
Avani and Ria looked at each other. They had decided that they would go ahead. The hairdresser had requested them to wait for ten minutes while they would get the room ready.

In the meantime, the hairdresser had discussed their conversation with the receptionist. The receptionist has further gathered a few of the staff members. They had decided that before they could contact the police, all of them would confront Avani and Ria.
They had barged into the room where Avani and Ria were seated.
” Whoa… what’s the matter? ” Avani questioned and stood up.
” We have got the information that you both are planning on hurting a lady named Chandra. ”
Ria stood up -” What? What nonsense is this? Who told you about it? Which lady are you talking about?”

The hairdresser intervened- ” Ma’am, the lady in your house. I heard the conversation. Entire conversation. If you don’t stop what you are planning to do, we will call the police.”
Avani stepped forward- ” Police? No please don’t call the police. It’s nothing. Please no police. If our family gets to know about it, we will be in trouble.”
Ria interrupted- ” Avani what are you telling ?”
Avani looked at Ria and winked. She had understood that Avani was taking these people for a ride. She too had decided that she would play along.
” Right. Please, please don’t call the police. ” Ria requested.

” How do we believe you that you will not harm Chandra? ”
” You can have my word. ” Ria smirked. Avani had covered her mouth and giggled.
The receptionist had noticed that these two were trying to trick them.
” Call the police. These ladies will not get away with this crime. “

Avani and Ria looked at each other and roared out laughing.
” Why are you two laughing? ” Hairdresser looked puzzled.
Avani trying to control her laughter – ” you know who Chandra is? ”
“Who is it? ” Asked another startled staff.
” Ria why don’t you tell about Chandra?”
” Avani, do you think they will believe us ?”
” Enough now. Stop it. We are going to call the police.” The manager of the Salon had raised his voice from behind the crowd who had silently listened to the entire conversation.

Avani had gotten a little annoyed-
” Fine go ahead and call the police. Or do you want me to call the police? I shall tell them that how all of you have been harassing us from the time we have got here. Everything is on the records. When the police listen to our part of the story, all of you will be behind the bars. Please go ahead.”

” Calm down all of you. Let me talk ” said the manager assertively.
” Ma’am we don’t mean to interfere in your matters. But when we heard that somebody might get hurt by your behaviour, that’s when we decided that we will look into the matter .”

Avani raised her voice –
” Oh, you will look into the matter?  Who are you ?? CBI?
Do we look like murderers to you?
Now I feel, we don’t find it necessary to tell you, people, anything. Total strangers. You can go ahead and invite the police. Most welcome. “

Ria looked at Avani and shrugged her shoulders.
” Avani, let’s not pull the matter further. It’s already extended more than I thought. I will tell you about Chandra. ”
” We don’t owe these people an explanation Ria. It’s none of their business. “

” Fine ma’am. Let’s close the matter here. We are sorry for the entire mess. We don’t want to involve the police. It’s your matter. ” apologized the manager.
” But Sir, what about Chandra?” The hairdresser asked sceptically.
The manager had glanced at the hairdresser and requested her to concentrate on her job.

Avani and Ria were about to leave the Salon. They paused and looked at the manager-
” This is the worst thing in my life. Wait and read for the review. You will regret it.” Again had made a firm statement.
Then Avani had turned towards the hairdresser and had walked towards her. She went closer and whispered into her ears. After the hairdresser had heard what Avani spoke to her, she looked bemused.

When both of them had exited the Salon and walked a little distance, they paused and had a hearty laugh.
” Oh! My God Ria my stomach hurts. I haven’t laughed this much in a while. Did you notice the hairdresser’s face when I whispered to her about Chandra? It was worth watching. She is going to regret it her entire life. She will never involve herself the next time in her customer’s subjects. ”
” Yes, I did look at her. Wow Avani, I don’t know you act so well.”
” Poor Chandra. I don’t think in her lifetime anybody would  talk so much about her.” Avani continued laughing.
” You know what Avani? I think now I am going to keep Chandra with me. She is not bad after all. Ram had found her on one of the construction sites. She was all drenched in rain and frail. He picked her up and got her home. I love dogs too. I do. But I felt that she was an additional chore. I wasn’t ready for it yet. Now whenever I see her, I will recollect this episode and I am sure it’s going to bring a smile to my face. She can be my stress buster. After all, dogs are man’s best friends. “

” Now what next? Lunch Ria ?”
Ria took her phone from her handbag and said-
” Wait before that: let’s take a selfie”
Both looked at the camera together and said  – ” Say Cheese .”

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