Little Miss “I could use parental guidance”
I was at a beauty saloon yesterday evening, waiting for the Latabody frizzer in my hair to kick in. My “Shuruba seri” had left for a far better saloon, in a far away place. So I was trying on a new look. And a new saloon. Which I was liking so far.
The young woman who did my afro “curls” made the locks on her finger, instead of putting the chemical and simply brushing them until my head no longer felt mine. She’s put an olive oil spray on it, too, free of charge. And complimented my hair on feeling softer than it appears. For someone who has been convinced her skull was where hair strands came to die, that comment felt like a favor deserving a reward. So I was mentally calculating how much I’d tip her, when a poster on the wall caught my eye.
It was one of those posters you notice on minibus doors and a humble shoe-maker’s workshop. Showing adorable little girls and boys in adult clothes, doing what adults are supposed to do. Exchanging flowers, kissing or writing love letters with lover’s longing in their eyes! Most of these pictures are cute and innocent. If you put them next to that Indian boy in blue wishing you a “good morning” or the weeping painting of that Briton child with “don’t worry, be happy” written underneath his tattered clothes, they would by no means stand out. They seem to exist for the sole purpose of reminding you how beautiful childhood innocence is. And how well-advised you’ve been, when avoiding Bollywood movies altogether.
Not this one! This was no chip off the old block. It had a different agenda in mind which it was pushing on the on-looker shamlessly. The little girl in the photo was sitting on what looked like a beach with her un-shod feet tucked in a sand. The shoulder strap of her skimpy white nightdress has come loose, baring half her shoulder. The face framed by the loose blonde locks was certainly that of a child’s, including the eyes with the supposedly “haunting” look in them, unbecoming of her age. Her mouth, on the other hand, was a different story. There was nothing childish about the mouth. The lips were red, full, and parted. Giving the girl the unnatural, and embarrassing, look an abesha guy would assume if he suddenly decided to shave his mustache.
Now, I know why the hair-saloon lady put the poster on one of her walls. She didn’t know better. But the men and women who took the photo, and the parents who drove their little girl back home, what were they trying to achive? Are they trying to convince us that, since a child is doing it, what we see here should be taken with the preverbal grain of salt?! Or are we meant to read more in to it?! As I was doing before my meditation was interrupted by a comment from the young woman incharge of my hair.
“Lovely, isn’t she?” she asked while ushering me into one of the “casks”, to let my locks dry. “Yes she is” I admitted grudgingly, if only she didn’t remind one of a hooker about to turn tricks.
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