They say that a woman’s hair is her crown; her glory, a crucial part of her womanhood. And if we are comparing the intensity of the glory of our hair, not that anyone really is, but say there was a scale that measured how glorious the hair of different women was, then mine would shine as bright as a firefly’s butt. To begin with, terming it as tough would be to terribly understate. I lose a couple of teeth every time I comb it, consequently combs are bought as frequently as I make my hair. Secondly, it grows just up to a certain point- the point where you can almost hold it firm at the centre of your head with a hair band-and then just stops. And it doesn’t just stop, it begins to clump into tiny annoying knots at the end that fall off at every combing combat, like sailors in a capsizing ship. It is a dreadful sight to behold my friends. Anyway, long story short that is the reason why I always have my hair in braids.
I traveled home during the holiday season, like most of Nairobi folk, and thought it wise to get my hair braided because of the obviously cheaper prices as compared to the city. I usually just do the normal braids, but because I had resolved to be a different person this year, I opted to have a little improvisation done, I would have what they call Bensouda lines on the sides of my head, and the usual braids in the middle. I have seen a couple of people looking good with this style before and I knew I wouldn’t be any different.
So I get to town, hop into the first salon I set my eyes on, and explain to the three women I find there what I want done. The first one, who is standing right in front of me with her hands on her hips, looks at me like I have just asked her to make me a cure for cancer. The second one is seated at the corner furiously attacking a plate of githeri continues to do just that and says nothing. The third woman, who seems a little bubblier than the rest, smiles and says that she knows exactly what I am talking about. She calls it ‘The Mohawk’, and then adds that she will be the one to do it.
I should fake a phone call or pretend to have someone waiting for me the minute she mentioned Mohawk. Instead I smile like an idiot and let her sit me down, put a towel over my shoulders and comb my hair, knots falling off like snow from the sky in those winter movies I’ve seen. I should have stopped her as soon as I notice that the lines on the left are a size bigger than those on the right side of my head. I should have asked why the braids were only being done halfway, but I figure she intends to do the finishing later, so I say nothing, and continue to enjoy the town gossip that is in free flow.
Two and a half hours later, she is done. I look at the final outcome and I swear I almost cry out in anguish. Staring back at me is the human version of Nemo, looking like bouts and bouts of electricity have passed through her. My head looks like an inappropriately written D, with about 5764 corners. There is a depression and a conspicuous bulge on the right and left side of my head respectively, as if something displaced the flesh, a punch of some sort. The ‘mohawk’ has a high peak; she must have been aiming for the sky. Literally. All the while everyone else in the room is giving congratulatory remarks and making sighs of admiration, one lady even says she is going to have the exact hairstyle done on her next visit to the salon. The culprit is rubbing her palms together, beaming with immense joy.
Now, I am not the type to cause a fuss or to speak out about injustices that are usually done to me. Heck, I couldn’t even scream at my baby sister when she took my phone without my permission to play Candy Crush and dropped it, shattering its screen to pieces. Similarly, fighting back tears from both disappointment and from the Mohawk being too tightly sewn in place, I say nothing, take out the agreed amount and give it to the woman then leave.
I get home and find as many available hands and toothpicks as I can find. This travesty of a hairstyle has to come off my head; Now.
I miss Nairobi.