The Henna Lady


I love doing cliché, touristy things (to an extent) while I am abroad. So of course, I had to get henna in Morocco. The suk (market) in Marrakech was packed with women sitting outside with photo albums filled with pictures of their art. They would come right up to us to show us their work, and in some cases they would grab your hand and start henna-ing it without permission.

On our last day in Marrakech, Dominique and I finally gave in and followed a persistent woman to her henna stand. There were two other old women already there waiting. Two of the women were very nosy, peeking into our wallets and asking for more money when they saw extra Dirham. But the woman I was with, Mina, was very kind. She was veiled, head to toe, save for her eyes.  As she prepared her ink, she asked me, “are you Muslim?” I replied, “no,” and a smile creeped onto her face, which I could see under her sheer veil. She asked me if I liked Morocco (thank goodness she spoke English) and if I was a student. As she swirled the design onto my arm, she asked me where I was from and how long I’d be staying in Morocco. Mina didn’t ask me for more money, or call me a “Greedy American.” Our meeting was short, but she made me feel so cared for; a nice change to some other experiences in the market that day. She was also a beautiful contrast of her two pushy colleagues, so in that one instance I was able to see multiple personalities of women in the market.

When it was time to go, I grabbed Mina’s hand, looked her in the eyes and said,  “I’ll see you again, Mina, Enshallah.”

“Enshallah,” she replied, squeezing my hand.

My henna, five days later, in the SPU library. Thanks, Mina!


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