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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a flash essay, based on true eye witness account, on girl trafficking through spas. It contains a is significant message for young adult (YA) readers.

Submitted: December 19, 2018

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Submitted: December 19, 2018




Innately every young Indian girl is a spa girl. When they are not watching birds chirrup across the skies, or when not assembling white champa flowers that fall from trees, they remain enthralled within four walls of a room where a mirror exists. There is a wooden table with a brush and a comb which becomes their morning and evening beauty ritual. They manage to stroke their hair one hundred times every day. Sometimes they massage their faces with fresh cream (malai) from boiled milk, or apply honey, making the most of their circumstances as they are not given pocket money for personal care. It is a skill in means to stay ‘in’ with minimum cost, as a bright and beautiful star in a stagnant sky. There is social and lifestyle added to their childhood day when they stay neat and tidy for their fathers passing nod. Beauty in young girls brings rewards.


Parents keep them away from the sun with vehement discussions they will get dark outdoors and nobody will marry them. Perhaps they are given milk for their skin at bath time with lemon and rose petals. Once a week cleaning with an earthen clay face mask and chickpea paste on the body is recommended. Turmeric and henna are arranged for supplementation to the beauty ritual. Egg yolk and coconut oil is applied on the hair for shine and conditioning.


Dried leaves, orange peel and rose petals are left in the sun for several days before the grandmothers Ayurveda recipe is beaten and grinded to develop a body and face scrub. It is mixed with milk for a glowing complexion. Rose water is applied to keep the skin moist and enhanced with a drop of glycerine. Betel leaves are rushed and dabbed on the lips for enhanced colour.


On special occasions the henna lady visits and designs exotic patterns on the hands and feet, similar to tattoos. Feet anklets with bells come on after the red ink design shows and traditional beauty becomes the daughter of the house. Deep red nail polish and matching lipstick completes the final ritual of dressing. Young girls raised in family communities are arranged to refresher trends and traditions for social equalization.


Not only is the tradition of beauty visible on hands, feet, face and hair, it is also applied to ground work and walls. Betel leaves and marigold garlands decorate doors, lawns and walls. Rose petals with white scented flowers are designed in a colour theme of red and white hanging flower curtains. This happens on special festivals and ceremonies with candles or diya’s. Perhaps these are more noted with Hindus maintaining a sacred order. Perhaps sacred Vedic chants and sandalwood incense accompany the atmospheric appeal.


As the environment changes, and the spa girl grows in her predicament, Bollywood scenes, magazine and newspaper pages draw a new vivid imagery of flowers on the face and hair, a bronze bowl to soak and cool any dirty feet, a scrub and oil to polish the skin. Makeup colours and metallic skin powders are branded for skin enhancement and allure. Nail polish becomes sophisticated with speckles and nail art that adds to the fashion of manicure and pedicure. Hair is styled with serum from foreign companies that reflect fashion awareness and trending. Girls must remain pretty for their careers and also secretly for the important day when they will tie the sacred knot. There are good markets in jobs and marriages for girls who have earnings and can obtain work abroad. This is presented from the government local representatives to the family.


Girls with beauty and innocence may not notice the secret works around them. They are marked by unseen ministries for specific labour that shows the government can draw their ticket for changing the lives of the girl. They flaunt that they are educating them and keep quotas for managing the community development. Foreign traders are asked to subsidize beauty products for girls so that they are beautiful in marriage, professional relationships and work. Special markets are known where styled garments can be acquired cheap.


The spa girl may attract a high paying job in the elite sector with lux body therapies for themselves and others. Their senses are enhanced in the captivating ambience of the trade. Beautiful white towels, robes, head turbans, eye masks, aroma oils and bath soaps invade the attention of the newcomer. Packaging of products, artificial lighting, highly polished glass and floors, trays and layouts become the new state or art and awareness.


Very secretly heads turn and nod at the girl talent turning their life force towards a sensory global space. Touts and managers know how girls bring the business and money in. A man comes and touches the girl, and waits to see her response. If she does not respond they book some appointments. They may arrange some generous tips.


Some remarks go on behind the doors. Hotels, owners and marketers want the business metrics. Some safety documentation is provided to show good neighbourhood ruling. Some more girls join the employment lobby, take turns at work, talk to each other, and acquire skills at another game which they are to know. Uniforms and etiquette are arranged equally to manage professional dignity. But lipstick becomes a shade less impactful than red. Nude gloss and minimum pout.


Other clans and communities watch the system of money making. The spa girl gets wise as competition challenges the pace of growth. Perhaps newcomers will step in who follow what customers really want and she resists in her arrangement. The big guys want it quiet and obedient. She is warned she may lose her work and employers feeding the grapevine will stop further jobs for her.  She knows the State has arranged special police counters for girls at work on demand with insidious intention. But employers and money brokers can trick the rules.


As the selections grow and the market bustles, cars and private busses seclude the employee. Families and childhood clans are erased from the scenario. Employers arrange contracts and controls for discipline in young women. The scent of money and new life hangs solidly in the air.


Innocence and incense. These words echo similarly to incest, enticement, 

excitement. The barriers of youth and culture that sealed the self with ornaments, clothes and a make-up façade dissolve before a hard and insidious demand. The fragile leaves of the champa tree fall, and the flower contained within it can no longer remain.  The Vedic chants of the temple priests are no longer heard when the phone rings.

How fragile the white dove with the broken wing that tried to fly. How cracked the painted lips in red that wooed the world with work.


To deceive or not to deceive, to be or not to be, to earn or not to earn?

That is the question.


© Copyright 2019 Malini Chaudhri. All rights reserved.

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