I recently got rid of my Mohawk. I just thought I needed a new hairstyle; after all I’d been sporting a Mohawk for a year now, and a change was definitely needed. So one fine Thursday evening, I dragged myself to the barber’s to get a haircut. Now let me explain my situation to you. I’ve got two barbers; a Nigerian one whose salon is in Dalston, East London while my other Barber, a Jamaican, is in Wandsworth which is near my home in South London. I chose to have two barbers because it makes my life easier. I have one near the office when I’m working and another near the house – you see how my life is simple?
I like the Nigerian barber. He’s a correct guy (shout out to you Jeff!), he’s funny, cool, we generally have a lot in common, and that makes for good laughs. The only thing is Jeff takes very long to get your shape right, but in the end it’s always tight and sharp. Then there is my Jamaican guy by the name of Henry. Good guy, decent man, but can’t shape your hair to save his life! However he’s close to home when you need a quick touch-up. Usually, I’m quite sensitive about who touches my head. I just don’t want any pair of hands touching my scalp. It feels like an invasion of privacy from my head. Allow me to take you on a trip through my hair-story.
You see, about three years ago I decided to cut my hair again. I first cut my hair in 1997 when I went into secondary school (an all girls school). School rules were that all students were to have low cut hair – you can imagine that lots of girls were not at all pleased. I wasn’t one of them – I was rather pleased. I so hated braiding my hair, I found it nothing short of torturous. You would have to go to the salon every Saturday afternoon where you would sit down for hours waiting for the ‘aunty’ who was going to braid it and if the ‘aunty’ was not around, then mama ‘Helizbet’ would step in and this was a very bad thing because even to my own child-like senses, I had a feeling this woman never bathed. She always had a smell about her. Imagine yourself sitting on a little wooden stool, and mama ‘Helizbet’, wanting braid the back of your hair, pushed your face between her legs in one quick move.
“Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!” I still scream from the flashback. Damn it was bad, and when she stopped braiding, you’d came up for air and by this time your eyes have gone red, your nose blocked because the stench ‘down there’ is ripe enough to kill. Having experienced all that trauma in the name of ‘making hair’, you can imagine my excitement when I was told “you are cutting your hair for school”. I didn’t care that I might look like a boy or lose my ‘crowning glory’, I didn’t even care if my head was shaped weird; all I cared about was not braiding my hair, not sitting for two hours with my face thrust into the ‘vajayjay’ of a woman who hadn’t bathed in ages. Hallelujah, my prayers had been answered! I had to live with my haircut for all my years at secondary school and I got used to it; in fact I was quite pleased with it.
Then I left school, and I was told I had to do something with my hair so I decided to braid it. That didn’t sit too well with me, especially the part where I had to sit down for about four hours. Surely there were more exciting, life-changing things to do with my time. Considering the fact that I had gotten used to a maximum of thirty minutes in the barber’s chair, four hours was mere punishment. So you can be sure the ‘braid phase’ didn’t last too long. The next thing I decided to do was to lock my hair. It was fine with me, but the ‘elders of the church’ pulled me aside one Sunday morning and told me I was behaving like a child with no home training, (“Anino you are living like the touts on the street with this devil’s hairstyle on your head! We give you a week to cut it all off!”). Off course I didn’t cut my hair immediately because I got really vexed. How did the hair on my head become their business? Was it their head? If the people in my household did not complain, what was their own wahala? How dare they? Please! Like my hair is the reason why people won’t go to church? Abeg jare make I hear word.
After the dreadlocks phase, I moved on to an afro which didn’t last too long. I got bullied (again) into plaiting the hair, which I did for another year or so. One day I just got to the point where I couldn’t take it all anymore. One Monday evening after work, I stopped by a barber and told him to scrape it all off. Yes, I did the Alek Wek style, or no hair on my head or “gorimpa” as we say in Naija, and since then I have not looked back.
The downside of having your hair like mine is that people will forever think you’re a boy. It amuses me when I hear “hey boss how can I help you? Or hello young man”. You should see the look on their faces when they find out I’m a girl; many are so embarrassed, I actually do get a kick from it. What am I to do? Surely getting angry at them won’t solve anything, so I let my sense of humour take over or what else am I to do?
PS: My new hairstyle is a simple cut till I figure what to do next. Any ideas?