It was a bright Saturday afternoon, I dropped my children at the salon to have their hair done. The youngest one; T3, the one that will kill me with questions one of these days if care is not taken read this for example, tried all the tricks in the book to escape the visit to the salon but without success. I laughed inside of me and thought, if only this girl knew all the tricks that I, her mum had in my kitty and still did not succeed in escaping the weekly hairdressing ritual when growing up, she would just give up and make the most of the situation by cooperating and enjoying enduring it.
Growing up, there was no weaving of hair, (weaving came later with the migration of Northerners who worked as Maiguards, accompanied by their wives who introduced the milder hair plaiting style called weaving)what we had was the almighty painful ‘didi’,
you know, that one that not even the tiniest of your hair escapes the painful clutch of the ‘onidiri’ the hairdresser , I am talking about the type that even your eyebrows are plaited along with the hair on your head (those with bushy eyebrows will testify to this I am sure)and as if the pain was not enough, you also had to endure the odor, scent of the inner recesses of the underneath of the onidiri,
|T3 enjoying the perfumed inner recesses of the underneath of Naijamum|
because it is essential that your head be gripped tightly in between their two thighs to get the best result. And also this was an ordeal that would take a minimum of two hours if the onidiri is good and fast. If the onidiri was ‘wicked’ as we used to think she was, she would from time to time give you a knock on the head with her ‘cutting comb’ ‘ilarun’
|Cutting comb (ilarun)|
to make you cooperate by keeping your head still. No wonder we had a permanent runny nose when we were growing up( from crying from weekend to weekend).
A typical Saturday was a day set aside for hairdressing, or hair plaiting if you like. After breakfast, the onidiri would come with her tools, we would in turn get ready for her, she would usually commence her business of the day starting with my Mum’s hair followed by all the females in the house and we had quite a few being an extended family system, aunties, cousins, nieces, house helps in fact every female member of the household.
One of my tricks was to be the last to have my hair done although this was what the onidiri herself wanted,she would not want me to be the first in the queue so that I will not infect her with ‘bad market’ and all the time I would start praying frantically for some life threatening emergency to happen so that I would escape and go free for that weekend. But Sorry, nothing of such ever happened. When it would almost be my turn, I would sneak out and run away, but some busybodies would outrun me and drag me back. Not giving up, I would cry so hard and so loud and roll on the floor, that too would not work but it would sometimes make my Mum buy a whole crate of soft drink, to bribe me with,( and these were the days when two children used to share a bottle). In between sobs, I would consume the whole crate almost half of the crate and I would still refuse to give the onidiri easy access. The onidiri would be exasperted but would dare not leave because plaiting of my hair was a tacit condition for her retainership by my mum.
My final trick was to beg to do ‘kiko’ this was the one done with thread, the Chimamanda Ngozi
Adichie’s favourite, but that too had its own downside, after doing it, I would develop boils at the back of my head, I would not be able to lay down to sleep for about four to five days after the hair plaiting and my neck would be in a permanently stretched position like a giraffe’s. I would beg to go back to didi. The cycle continued until my mum gave in to my request to have my hair cut and after a while I could not stand being mistaken for a boy as a result of the new hair cut, so I started growing my hair again and the cycle resumed.
So when I look at T3, and her ajebota style of crying, I just laugh and wonder,is this mild whimpering what they call crying? I can bet that she has never rolled on the floor before, she has never cried till she would lose her voice.
To the discussion at hand, T3 just got back from the salon laughing and skipping, I asked her if she had stopped crying; Trust her to answer my question with another question….
T3: Who was crying?
Me: Where you not the one crying that you did not want o have your hair done?
T3: But Mum, seriously ( that is the latest expression in use in my house) children’s hair should be left free
Me:What about Mummy’s hair?
T3: (eyes rolling) But Mum, seriously nobody forces them to do their hair.
So what type of hairstyle would you recommend for an African (girl) child or would you go along with T3’s suggestion that children’s hair should be left free?