Saturday, 07/01/2017, Robert and I went shopping in Deira, a commercial centre in Dubai. We went to buy a suit for my brother-in-law, Jason. We stopped at a shop that had a picture of a dapper looking man wearing a suit printed on its wall, just what we were looking for.
About 5 minutes later, we found the suit that I thought Jason would look smashing in. It was a blue single button suit. “Like the ones worn by investment bankers, news anchors and level c executives I had watched on television or project managers I had had the pleasure of working with,” I mused idly. Robert evaluated the quality, style, fabric and price.
Jason had sent his measurements the previous day. However, we thought that it might be useful for one of the shop attendants who is almost of the same build and body type as Jason to try the jacket on. So, we kindly requested Adam (let’s call him that) to try it on, he did. I requested him to turn around so I can see his back, he did and I smiled. I smiled because he looked smashing in the jacket. I smiled at the thought that Jason will look dapper in the suit. I then looked back at Adam, smiled and said thank you as he took the jacket off. Adam did not respond.
I was then tasked with finding Jason a shirt. A white shirt with light blue strips and beautiful dots in the shelf adjacent to the ladies’ section looked perfect. On inspection, the label had slim fit printed on it. Slim fit is not the usual 14, 15, 16 or other sizes Robert and I are accustomed to. I turned to Adam. Adam said he wears medium size slim fit shirts. We concluded that a slim fit medium size shirt would fit Jason too. Again, I looked at Adam, smiled and thanked him for his help. Adam didn’t respond; he did not smile or nod, instead he gave me what I thought was an expressionless face.
Adam’s coldness perturbed me; why did he not respond? Had I done something wrong? Was it because I had gone into the men’s section that I wasn’t perhaps supposed to go into? There were men in the ladies’ section too, i noticed. Could it be that he didn’t know English? but smile is a universal language, i thought. Could it be because I had looked at his back? or was it because I looked him in the eyes?
I was then transported back to the nineties, in my early teens. I thought about baba, my father. Baba forbade me from looking at him in the eyes when we spoke. He said, i wasn’t supposed to look people in the eyes, especially older people. I didn’t ask why. That Saturday, more than ever, I wished I had asked why. I wished I had asked my dad where he would rather have me look when talking to him.
With my hand in Robert’s, the shirt and suit safely in the shopping bag on his other hand. My wiggling bottom, head help up high and smiling away like a little girl in love, we continued our journey nevertheless. Fifteen minutes later, we were seated safely in the metro to Rhashidya, on our way home, bargains found!
Why did Adam not respond? Are women not allowed to smile with men? Did i misread him?or did he think I was flirting? I can’t blame him if his hormones kicked in; a smile is always charming. But how could i say thank you with a frown?