With only eyes

by Gabriella Sonabend

One beautiful moment.

I am in Dalmandi again, buying more fabric for my artworks. I am standing in a shop, which sells trimmings and edges to adorn saris and dresses; borders and bells, reels of these, shimmering on shelves; stacked ceiling to floor. The shop is dark and narrow and packed full with women, Hindus and Muslims. Half of the women wear beautiful saris; they are wrapped in shades of magenta, turquoise, teal, buttercup, amber and cobalt. The other half is draped in black fabric, covered head to toe; they stand in a cluster. I stand beside this cluster. They watch me asking to see my various trimmings, they are curious, it is not common to find a foreigner in this market, they are whispering to each other, only their eyes are visible and they dart back and forth towards me. I turn to them and I smile, it is not forced, although I am exhausted, I am suddenly extremely moved by this group of shaded women and I smile a smile I did not plan. Suddenly I see the corners of theirs eyes creasing, the fabric covering their noses begins to twitch and rise slightly, their eyes sparkle and I know that beneath their shield they are smiling back at me.

For some reason I shake my head in laughter, I am not laughing at them, I am not laughing at the situation. I am simply sharing a strange, inexplicable, uncontrollable moment of joy. I pay for my things and incline my head to say goodbye. Within moments I’m back on the streets, there are no women here for me to laugh with.