Monday, 9 July 2012

Henna

Mama's eyes turned as big as saucers when Mama was picking up the kids at their play school cum nursery last week. Sis A's fingers and toenails were painted purple!
Trying to act natural, Mama asked her, "Kenapa kuku Yaya macam tu?" (What happened to your nails?). She replied innocently, "Yaya lukis dengan kawan-kawan" (Yaya painted them with friends' help). Oh Mama's little girl has grown up. Oh now she's into nail painting? Hahaha.. Mama laughed when Mama was reminded of an episode a few years ago.

A colleague, who had just returned from performing the Haj, gave a small tube of henna to Mama. Sis A was nearly one year old that time and Mama was very excited to make her look pretty and be more feminine. When Sis A was sleeping, Mama carefully applied the henna to her nails and toenails, hoping that she would be as excited as Mama when she woke up.
Alas, it was not to be. Mama heard shrieks and screams of horror from Mama's little girl. She kept crying and showed her nails to Mama. Until today Mama could still remember her frantic words, "Ddaroh, Ya Ddaroh" (Bleeding, Yaya's bleeding). Oh my, she thought the red colour on her nails was blood and she was really scared at that time. So, Mama had to wash the colour off her nails to stop her hysterical fits.

When Mama was a little girl, Mama and Mama's little sister were always excited during weddings. The bride in the old days (and in present days) always wear the henna. And of course after the bride used it, there would be some henna leaves left for the children .In the old days, henna didn't come in a tube. They came from real trees which can be found in the backyard of most village houses.






From Wikipedia:

Henna (Lawsonia inermis, also called henna tree[1]) is a flowering plant used since antiquity to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather and wool. The English name "henna" comes from the Arabic حِنَّاء (ALA-LC: ḥinnāʾ / pronounced [ħɪnˈnæːʔ]) or colloquially حنا, loosely pronounced /ħinna/.

Whole, unbroken henna leaves will not stain the skin. Fresh henna leaves will stain the skin if they are smashed with a mildly acidic liquid. Henna is commonly traded as a powder made by drying, milling and sifting the leaves. The dry powder is mixed with lemon juice, strong tea, or other mildly acidic liquids to make a preparation with toothpaste-like consistency, which can be used to make finely detailed body art. The henna mix must rest for 6 to 24 hours before use.
The paste can be applied with many traditional and innovative tools, including resist, a cone, syringe, Jac bottle or fingers. A light stain may be achieved within minutes, the longer the paste is left on the skin, the stronger the stain will be, and should be left for several hours.

Henna stains are orange soon after application, but darken over the following three days to a reddish brown.After the stain reaches its peak color it will appear to fade, as the stained dead cells ex foliate.


Mama, cousins and aunts then worked hard pounding the leaves into paste and put everything people said would make the stains stronger (in our case, dark red). Then we would take turns putting the paste onto our nails and toenails. In order to avoid staining our bed sheets (and the wrath of our mothers), we wrapped our little fingers with cellophane tape (just like the picture that Mama found with some help from Uncle Google).
The end result? We all thought that we looked prettier with the red nails and toenails. A bit like the bride.

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