My daughters eyes looked at me searchingly, not wanting to offend the masseuse but also wanting to protect her 8 year old modesty.
She would like to keep her knickers on please, I told the beautiful woman dressed in a red, gold and green sari. The masseuse nodded the circular nod of Indian people.
A lay down nervously on the Ayurverdic massage table, wooden and worn, unsure of what was about to happen. I had already had a back massage with herby smelling oils and incense burning, I thought my daughter would like it too.
You can close your eyes, I told A, but she kept them open and fixed on me for trust. The woman started pouring warm oils on my daughters pale body, her brown hands contrasted beautifully with A's pearly-white skin. I smiled, loving seeing my child enjoy this completely new sensation but also a little envious as I hadn't touched my own daughter like this since she was a baby. The masseuses hands glided, stroked and gently kneaded every area of her little body, her limited English had me translating to A who could not understand the Malayalam accent. She massaged her way down to my daughters feet when a crack of thunder so loud made the lights pass out and we were in darkness. A few candles were lit, adding to the atmosphere, as the rain pelted on the wooden shutters of the small room we were in. I could hear the mosquitoes and we could see the flashes of lightening getting closer, illuminating the room.
"You OK, sweetheart?" I asked A, she assured me she was, and we grinned together, wide-eyed at the foreign situation. I felt emotional there in the thunderstorm, as my baby lay in front of me. I wanted to reach out and stroke her oily hair and tell her I loved her so very much.
"See this here?" the masseuse pointed to the brown birth mark on my daughters foot. "This is very good. Very auspicious. Very good, she will travel a lot your daughter. She will leave home and travel, travel, travel. She will work travelling away, helping people. Very good mark. Very auspicious!" she assured me.
I've always loved that little mark on my first-born's foot. I've loved watching it grow with her. I felt proud that it was a good omen and imagined her saving the world. A smiled wide again, extremely happy with her foot and her massage.
"How old you? How many babies you get?" the masseuse demanded of me, I told her the truth.
"Why you take so long getting babies?" she queried. The spell was broken as I mumbled something about our culture and she gestured towards the tips tin.