She sat staring at herself in the mirror.
Her hair was divided into small organized segments, twisted and clipped atop her head. A guy with jarring blue streaks on his head was slowly but steadily working his way at ironing the frizzy hair into soft straight strands.
She couldn't see it yet, but she hoped the result would be as pretty as she had hoped it would be.
Would that even matter or will it get lost in the chaos she briefly wondered, then shut her eyes and mentally shook herself.
The guy was pulling out the next segment from behind her head. A slight tug.
She had always wanted to get her hair straightened. She'd been among those most excited when Hair Ironing as a concept became popular and widespread when she was still at school. But her parents had never let her iron her hair. Initially, they had just said it was too early. As she'd grown up, and crossed that point where any request of hers was met with a standard preceding statement: "After you get married, you can colour your hair", "After you get married, you can go on that EuroTrip", "After you get married you can get a tattoo" - this too had joined that troop - "After you get married, you can straighten your hair. Or chop it all off for all we care" Her mother had declared.
Not all rhymes were nice, she'd thought sordidly as she accepted her mother's declaration with nothing but an inward smirk.
She was tugged back to the present when the guy tugged out another segment of twisted frizzy hair.
She was getting her hair straightened. Finally! And it wasn't after she was married. "HA!" she exclaimed her victory - mentally addressing her parents. She was getting her hair straightened for her wedding. Was that even a victory?
Her wedding to a man who had been a stranger to her less than four months ago. A man who her parents had meticulously chosen for her.
She watched herself in the mirror as the guy put all his energy into taming her wild hair. Going over them again and again with the ceramic iron. Her mouth twisted in apprehension as she herself still couldn't see any results yet as the front half was still segmented frizzy hair that was yet to be worked upon.
She had known since her early years that despite growing up in the city, her family was very conservative and would not encourage many of the little independences that her classmates enjoyed. Barring the occasional resentment, she had accepted it. Had never questioned it, except for that one time three years ago, when she had wept to her mother that she really really liked that guy from her university who had asked her out for coffee, and could she please go. Her mother had kept a blank face and said no. Her tears didn't seem to touch her mother's iron heart.
She watched her hair as steam escaped the iron. Will they burn her hair? Will she go bald to her own wedding? The temporary panic must have reached her eyes, as the guy smiled and nodded his reassurement. She relaxed a little bit, hoping that he knew what he was doing.
She'd decided then, on that night, that she would never weep for a man again. And that she would never weep in front of her mother. Wasted tears anyway.
But she had done both again that day, just about four months ago. She was all dressed up, awaiting the potential groom to come and see her and her family with his family. Her father had looked his usual noncommittal not overly communicative self. Her mother had looked proud, with a wide smile on her face, that beamed through the tears in her eyes.
Looking out the window now, she saw the gentle drizzle. Little droplets of water. Great, just great she thought. Perfect for newly ironed hair. Drat. But the drizzle was so gorgeous!
It was like that moment. When he had walked through the doors of her house. Along with his parents, all of them dressed in traditional garments and smiling. He, to whom, during their only conversation three years ago, she had made a refusal. He, whom she had stared at many times... and had yet remained a stranger to.
She had looked at her mother in confusion, and her mother had just smiled and nodded.
"How" she had asked her mother later that night. "I didn't do that much. I met him once that month long ago when he first approached you. I told him that if he were really serious about you, he should come back and meet me after he has graduated and landed a good job. He did. Then I spoke to your dad about him, we met his parents over coffee last week, and they came today"
She had nothing to say except cry happy tears and "Thank you."
Her parents, whom she had always believed were against her wishes had in fact been at her corner the entire time. Fighting her battles with her, making it an easier battle to win.
The straightening was almost done now. The frizz dealt with. It all looked straight, and soft and perfectly in place. He was just ironing out the smallest of the curls from the corners. She wondered how she would walk back home in the rain with the ironed hair. It was less than five hundred meters, but it would still affect the ironing.
Even before her sigh could escape her, she saw him. Her him. He walked through the door, with eyes only for her, an umbrella in his hand and his car probably parked right near the entrance. He who had gone from stranger to best friend in four short months.
"Your mom asked me to pick you up and drop you home, as it was looking cloudy, and they've gone out to do some last minute wedding shopping" He commented, as he came over and in a natural move, picked up her hand to hold it. "I didn't tell her that I was already on my way to come and see you anyway" he said winking and laughing mischievously. She held his hand tighter and smiled. A smile that could have lit up any room. "Straight hair looks good on you. But I like the wild hair better" he decided.
"You will probably like me even when I'm bald." she said with the confidence of a woman who knew that he would do just that.
She shook her head and felt the straight hair fluttering around her face.
It felt just right.