It was one of those unplanned gatherings; a phone call here, an sms there and a holler everywhere but about twenty of us turned up. The condition was simple; no husbands allowed. It was an all girls affair with sons under ten only to be allowed in attendance.
The occasion was simple; a friend wanted a haircut, another wanted a trim and many wanted the extra blow dry, but there were several reasons for the reluctance to visit the hairstylist. One, the credit crunch had dictated that we do not spend more than necessary for anything as trivial, two, a student at a local hairdressing school wanted models to practice her skills on and earn a little pocket money. Three, a mass hairdressing session with like-minded friends was not an occasion to be missed. It was to be an evening being pampered, grooming ourselves while enjoying Laksa Kedah and roti canai, quite unheard of in any hairdressing salon in this British capital.
So, there we were in the lounge-cum-hairdressing salon at a friend’s house somewhere in North London. The haircuts produced oohs and aahs with a lot of silly jokes and banters flying about. It was a casual and a relaxing few hours when we let our hair down, so to speak, but as the evening drew to a close, it transcended into a stocktaking session, with reminiscence and nostalgia taking over the banters.
Most of us in that lounge had known each other for more than two decades since we made this city our home. Away from the extended family, these are our sisters and aunts with whom we have shared our joys and sorrows as we met each other and made this journey together in this foreign land.
It wasn’t by design that we remain here this long. Work had dictated that we extended our initial three-year stint here and before we realised it, almost three decades had passed. Looking at my ‘sisters’ in that room, I knew they had their reasons to be here and they have marked their presence here and contributed to the society that we live in. They have their own niche.
While for some it was a matter of a natural progression; after studies and straight on to getting work offers kind of thing, for others it wasn’t as smooth sailing. There was one who took matters in her own hands when all around her collapsed, her marriage included. She came here in the seventies and saved enough money working in nursing homes, to send for her children to join her here. Being away from probing eyes and getting the breathing space she needed, she gathered enough strength to rebuild her own life and start her own roaring business.
Another sister lost her husband when both came to study here. She was a young bride left on her own in a city that could be cold and lonely. But she found solace in this small community of ours. Being left on her own gave her that energy that she didn’t know she had.
Others had their own stories to tell about how they made their journey here; some with blessings of the families back home while some were somewhat alienated because of their choice in marriage partners. We looked back on our respective journeys, sharing the trials and tribulations, joys and celebrations as the hair on our head began to dry and the curls began to take effect. Most of us had indeed come a long way.
Our children have grown up together and are now etching their own niche in this community, straddling across two cultures. We now look on as they embark on their own journey, having held their hands this far.
(PS This is a recycled/rehashed piece. Brain on strike.)