In the light of my recent temporary joblessness, I have been doing a bit of reminiscing about different parts of my life. I have recently painted my nails, had a manicure and pedicure, shaved my eyebrows, basically pampering myself, and doing things I wouldn’t have sat down to do were I going to work daily.
So at the salon where I went to shave my eyebrows, which is just a make-shift container used by a neighbour of mine, this neighbour, Aunty Kemi, looked at my hair, and sang the usual “so this is how you will be carrying your hair” song. In order not to sound like a broken record, that is not my entry for today.
She then went ahead to say “Anna, you don’t even come here again.”
Mind you, the last time I went to her shop was when my hair was moving from TWA stage to the awkward phase. She did something to me that actually made me stop.
Remember I said her ‘salon’ was just a converted makeshift container, and she is a roadside ‘hairdresser’. However, when I started growing out my natural hair, I didn’t know anything about caring for my hair. In fact, I didn’t know how to wash my hair by myself, as unbelievable as that may sound. As newly naturals do, I was soaking up information on the internet about how to care for natural hair.
I used to go to her to wash my hair only, cos I didn’t want her to style my hair. I would then wear my hair in afro with an Alice band. Shortly after, I learnt about Tea Rinse, and decided to add the tea rinse to my wash routine. I asked Aunty Kemi if she could do it, and she said only if I prepare the tea brew from my house, which is just three buildings away from her salon. Since a beggar had no choice, I agreed.
Every Sunday, I would carry a kettle of hot water brewing two tea bags in it to Aunty Kemi. She would ask her girl to mix it with cold water to become warm, wash my hair, and do the tea rinse. I would then pay her N200 for washing my hair. After a while, Aunty Kemi began treating me like I was disturbing her. I believe it was because of the tea brew. I think she just didn’t understand why I was making so much fuss about the whole hair, and not just wash my hair normally like everyone does. I wondered what her issue was. After all, I wasn’t using her water, gas, electricity, or even tea bag to brew my mix.
One Sunday evening, I quickly popped into Aunty Kemi’s salon to ask if I could come with my brew to wash my hair. Believe it or not, she had two men in her salon with her, singing Christian choruses and reading bible. I was so confused as to what was going on, so I engaged her in a dialogue.
“Aunty Kemi, I want to wash my hair, what is happening?” I started.
“We are having fellowship.” She answered.
Silently, I thought “on a Sunday evening, when you are supposed to have your highest number of customers, such that there will be no room to take them all, you are having fellowship.”
So I proceeded to ask her “Okay, so when will you finish? In how many minutes can I come and wash my hair?”
“I don’t know when we will finish, but as soon as we finish, I am closing.”
… In other words, go home, and don’t come back.
I was so sad, but I had to sit myself down and truthfully ask myself. “How long would I continue to go through this, how long would I continue to have hairdressers despise me and my tea rinse, simply I don’t know how to wash my own hair? If I want to embark on this natural hair journey for long, then this has got to stop.”
That evening, I went to my bathroom, and learnt how to wash my hair. I washed my hair for the first time ever, and have never allowed anyone wash my hair since then. I owe it all to Aunty Kemi’s rejection.
So when she said “Anna, you don’t even come here again,” all I could do was smile, and mentally say “Thank you. You made me learn, and eventually start my own diary.”
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