I have recently written a blog about our basic human need to be touched. Sadly, so many people are saying how lonely they feel and how much they miss that caring hand on their shoulder. On my last trip to India I had the luxury of a daily massage from Maya, a young woman in Bangalore. The sense of being cared for as she applied oils to my body was wonderful. We both relaxed and, as she massaged me, our conversations became deeper. It’s so true that having physical contact with another person allows us to not only to relax but also to open up and share more personal thoughts. I wrote about this at the time and it seems relevant to the earlier Follow Grandma blog about the sense of touch.
I lie down for my daily Indian massage. For the last three weeks, Maya, a gentle spirited, young woman has been weaving her way every day on her moped through the ghastly Bangalore city traffic to give me an early morning massage. We have become good friends and she has dealt with the knots and stiffness that afflict grandmas, especially grandmas who are exploring India and have been experiencing unmade country roads.
During the hour long sessions, Maya and I chat about our different lives. She has never been outside India and is very interested to learn more. She asks about London and Scotland and is fascinated that I live alone, cook my own meals, drive myself and don’t have servants or a daily masseuse (I wish I did have the latter!). She’s interested in my life but it’s all without any hint of envy.
She lives in Bangalore and has a boy friend who is starting his own IT company. She has developed a successful business as a masseuse and beautician and travels to the homes of professional middle class clients. Most of her earnings go to support her siblings and she tells me that she’s seen so much hardship and struggle in her family that she’s made a conscious decision not to have children.
Today, as we talk about the future, I ask her if she has a particular ambition or something she would love to do in her life. Her response is unexpected.
” No Ma’m”. Yes, she uses that word M’am in such a confident way that this grandma can accept it. There is no servility no bowing, scraping or any of that nonsense. I am lying naked on a table, enjoying her professional attention to my knotted muscles, and she says Ma’am with a respect that is equal and I rejoice. “No Ma’am I am very contented and I don’t wish for more. I love my work. When I started I had no mobile phone. Now I have a phone. Then, I had no transport, now I have a two-wheeler bike. Now when my clients phone me I can plan my day and travel easily to work all over the city. I love my clients and, (she pauses) I am grateful for all that I have.” Her smile lights up her face as she speaks and she radiates an inner happiness and joy.
What a positive response. ” I am contented and I am grateful for all that I have”. That certainly was a massage with a message.