You walk into Eyes Of The Beholder salon down the road with high hopes and aspirations of a harvest of compliments all week long. It is Saturday and your upkeep day. After walking a few kilometres, you happen on to the salon because it is the only one that has a generator. A group of girls mill around the front. They are all busy. But you know salons always have space to take one more. You appraise quickly and see Madam in a corner. You know her because she is different. Her hair is well done and she is smiling. You smile back, hoping she has time for you. But someone shows up from behind before you have a chance to speak. The first thing you notice is her bad hair.
“Madam, wetin you wan do?”
You look at her with a side eye. Your heart is slamming against the sides of your ribs.
“Ah, she fit do hair, the Madam calls. She will handle you well well”.
You’re not too sure, but you submit your hair and the prospects of your week long admiring glances to the mercy of this ghetto queen. You follow meekly as a sheep led to slaughter to the wash basin.
From the start, you find out this is going to be a tough ride. Once your head has been plonked down into the basin, you know there will be trouble.
W-H-A-M, W-H-A-M comes the ice cold water which then trickles down the side of your Mac powder.
“What is this”, you scream.
“Sorry madam”, she whispers, wiping your face and glancing furtively at her real madam.
And she proceeds to wash. The stimuli of the sharp acrylic nails scraping at your scalp bypass your brain and send a direct message to your neurones. You bite your tongue and squeeze your eyes tight to stifle your rage. And after another W-H-A-M, W-H-A-M, water trickling down face and a hasty sorry madam, the bath is over and your hair is wrapped up in a towel, turban style.
Now to locate a seat. You want one that is in full sight of Madam. You figure if she keeps an eye, not much can go wrong. You get one. Madam smiles. Your reply is weak. Your stylist asks for your style. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. A two hour internet browsing session has prepared you. You tell her what you want. Layered look, tapered at the temples, volume at the back, side bang swept off the face. Taraji P. Henson. You tell yourself that if she doesn’t understand, that surely she will say so. And so, when she proceeds to start without another word, you relax.
She hands you a magazine. Eyes Of The Beholder salon does not stock Vogue, Glamour or Essence. A frayed three year edition of City People will do. You glance at the headlines. Turai Yaradua’s assets are worth twenty million? Snort.
Occasionally, you look up to see how things are going but your hair doesn’t seem to be taking any recognizable shape or form. What was it you said again? Layered look? Do you keep quiet so that nobody will say you are a noise maker or do you say your mind? You decide to say your mind, but she is ready for you. She has seen your kind before. Mind sayers.
With a smile, she tells you to be calm. It’s all working together for your good. You think that has to be a Scripture, but maybe not…
Madam glances your way every now and then but when you try to catch her eye and give a pleading look, they move on before you’ve had your chance.
At last, you see that all the weave is gone and there is no space on your head.
You look up to behold yourself in the mirror and … and …
You feel the tears pool at the back of your throat.
For three hours lost. For human hair already shredded. For 2, 500 you know you must pay. For, for… Because not that it is particularly ugly. You see, you are pretty and you cannot possibly look so bad. But…. But… There is that but… and only you understands.
There are no layers, nothing tapers, nothing bangs to the side. And then, it hits you. Eyes Of The Beholder. You turn around.
The cries of ‘Madam, you hair is fine’ fills the air.