So last year, when I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for myself for my birthday, I was toying with the idea of getting a tattoo. I don't have any tattoos, and it seemed like 45 was the perfect age to get one. Something small and tasteful, I thought. Something simple, like the words "look for the light" in small script on the inside of my left wrist.
I mentioned my plans to Alex.
"What? No." Her eyes filled with sudden tears.
I was shocked. "Wait, why? It'll be cute! Just a tiny one, right here!" I pointed to my wrist.
"Mom, no. A permanent tattoo? No."
"I thought you'd approve! Just a little ..."
She composed herself, and looked at me coolly.
"Mom, NO. In fact," she inhaled deeply, "I forbid it."
"You forbid it? HOLD UP, Miss Missy." I leveled my eyes at her. "You seem to forget I'm the mom in this relationship. You cannot forbid me."
She was undeterred. Her voice remained calm, stoic. "I forbid it."
I am not in the habit of having my daughter put her foot down with me, so while the Trini part of me was itching to give her a good lesson on what happens when little girls disrespect their elders, the rest of me was thinking that surely she's not crazy enough to tell me she forbids something unless it's really, really important to her. So I reconsidered and decided against the tattoo.
(Luckily, the camera I had ordered showed up on my birthday, so in the end, it didn't feel like I gave up too much. In fact, I haven't seriously considered getting a tattoo since.)
Then a couple of months ago, toward the end of the school year, I was picking up Alex after school, and noticed she had the shape of the sun on the back of her hand. At first I thought she had taken a brown marker and drawn on herself, but then I realized what it was.
"Alex, is that henna on your hand?"
"Oh," she glanced at her hand. "Yeah. It's called a mehndi. We were learning about India today in school."
"Did someone come in and actually draw it on you?"
"Yes, one of the moms. She's from India. We all got one."
"Yeah, they do them in Trinidad, too. All the Hindu brides get them." And then suddenly, that's when I knew. "You, know, Alex, it's really beautiful. I think I'm going to get a really fancy one for my birthday this year." I narrowed my eyes. "I don't supposed I could get your permission to have one, could I?"
She grinned. "Of course you can. Mehndis aren't permanent. So yes, you may."
So, it was settled. As my birthday approached, I started Googling for henna tattoo artists in Houston. While I'd had small henna tattoos before, I knew that for this birthday, I wanted the real deal: someone who really knew what she was doing, a person to whom all the Indian brides who wanted henna tattoos in Houston would naturally turn for their big days.
And that's how I found Soniya.