Once upon her face, there was always a smile. For me, for her other customers, for her husband, for her happy little baby named Khushi. She smiled through the crew cuts I insisted on. She smiled again, broader, when I finally took her advice and let my hair grow. She smiled with me as she let me peep into the facials room, where her baby, breastfed and burped, slept soundly and peacefully through the drone of hairdryers. I don't remember ever seeing her not smile. They all smiled, smiled a lot.
And now father and child are dead. A road accident and they are gone. And she is lying in hospital. I feel hollow inside. I am a queen with words but there are no words for her. Tomorrow I shall visit her and say nothing. No matter how much I speak, I shall say nothing. Tomorrow my words are useless.
I wonder if she will ever smile again.