ravings, rantings and ramblings
I have a neighbour in the building next to mine. She is on the first floor and I am on the fifth. From all my observations, I deduct that she probably could be from one of the white Arab countries. She stays with her family; she has regular friends who come over and loves to sun herself in the balcony, from where I can see her and she can see me. The one thing that was common between us was the morning ritual of a coffee and a solitary smoke. She was obviously too far from my building for me to make out if it was tea she was drinking. There were no body gestures acknowledging the presence of the other, but I guess we were aware of each other doing what we liked to do most at that time. The difference now is that she smokes and I don’t.
I see her in the balcony, sometimes sharing conversation with her husband over a smoke. I see her chatting with her friend over a smoke. I also see her adjusting the balcony furniture while she smoked. And of course, the morning ritual continued except that I would see her and resume doing what I would be doing at that time, as now I have cut down on my morning cuppa as well.
Today I saw her, where I usually do. Her hair was open and reached till her waist. She flicked the ash off her cigarette in a black ashtray that already had the remains of other sticks. She was wearing red which totally offset her skin colour. She took a drag from her stick and turned around to the mirrored glass walls of her apartment. She looked at her image. She stood up a little, holding herself to her full height.
Maybe she was reminded of her childhood when she must have overshot her sibling or was told that girls should not be that tall.
She balanced the cigarette at the corner of her mouth and smoothed her dress over her stomach and continued to run her hands through her dark, long hair. A puff of smoke drifted to the right. She played with her hair, adjusting a few strands over both her shoulders.
Maybe she was reminded of her first scooter or bike ride in her native country behind the boy who fancied her in college. Maybe the breeze in her hair reminded her of a free spirit that she always wanted to be.
She took the cigarette from her lips and inspected her face, with a careful touch of the left hand.
Maybe a trip to her favourite salon is due. Maybe she was mapping the changes her body has seen post marriage and motherhood. Maybe she was reminded of how conscious she came to be of her body as she grew older. Carefree childhood, to gawky teenage, to a conscious post-teen and finally the aware woman that she is today.
The cigarette burned, perched stylishly between her fingers. She turned sideways, watching herself on the mirrored wall. She primmed her red dress and adjusted the shoulder straps.
Maybe, a surprised meeting with somebody from the past in a crowded Dubai mall would remind her how she still looked good, despite the years that have outrun her.
She turned away from the mirror, took a last long drag and submitted her cigarette to the tray with the other stubs, flicked back a few strands of hair and stepped back in to her household from her balcony.