Toronto – December 2015
Dolapo stood in front of the mirror in the beauty store critically assessing the sample short fringe wig she was trying on.
“That looks good on you.” the store assistant next to her said..
“Yeah, I like it too.”
“If you want to be adventurous, try it in color 33. The deep red would look really cool.”
Dolapo nodded. “OK”
As she took off the wig, she was careful to keep her wig cap in place before putting on her face cap.
Purchase done, she headed out the store. It was a fifteen minutes walk home. She lived in a one bedroom above-ground basement apartment in her cousin, Lola’s newly purchased home. Once she got home, she took off her cap and tried on her new purchase. The deep red color did suit her. A new wig in preparation for a new job seemed appropriate, she thought with a smile as she returned the wig to the package. She took off her wig cap and ran her palm across her close-cropped hair.
She used to have a long, thick mane. She’d had to shear off the entire thing after she’d picked off most it and gone half way bald.
Lagos – December, 2014
Her first wig – courtesy of mom – was a short curly monstrosity that failed at mimicking an Afro. She’d worn it with the confidence she’d lost along with her edges. Mom had walked into her room one day as she contemplated how to style her hair. She took one look at her receding hairline and gasped.
“Dolapo! What happened to your hair?”
Her mom was probably going to think she was crazy, she thought. She could go with the bad weave excuse.
“I can’t stop pulling my hair mom.” She’d blurted out instead. “With everything going on, I can’t help it. I just keep pulling and pulling when I get stressed. ” She turned desperate eyes to her mom. “I feel like I’m going crazy. Am I crazy?”
“I reject it in Jesus’ name. Craziness is not your portion.”
Without another word, mom retrieved one of her pieces and helped her put the wig on.
“Beautiful” she said, squeezing her shoulder affectionately.
She’d started picking at her hair about the time she found a rose on her pillow. The more frazzled and anxious she became, the more she picked at her hair. Her confidence was eroded. She couldn’t explain or control the compulsion. She came to think of her wigs as her healing costumes, helping to cover up her wounds.
Her hair wasn’t the only thing she lost.
“Wow!” her boss exclaimed when she’d arrived at work after one of her sleepless nights. “You could go shopping with the size of those bags under your eyes. Are you OK?”
She’d smiled. “I’m fine. Just a long night is all.”
“OK. But my door is open if you need to talk though.”
James had traveled to London on a short term work assignment earlier in the month. Before leaving, he’d insisted she move back in with her parents for security. When her parents found out about the stalking, they’d been alarmed and upset that they had not been immediately informed. Her dad had immediately hired a security guard to man the gates. She had also changed her phone number and limited the number of people she gave the number to.
Since she’d moved back home, she had not received any flowers or phone calls. But she remained high strung and was exhausted from constantly being on guard.
By the time the new year approached, there were no new incidents and she started to breathe a little easier. and she could see new growth in the bald spots.
Lagos – January 02, 2015
The office was relatively quieter as a lot of her colleagues had yet to return from vacation. In her team of five, it just her and Joke in the office and they’d decided to have an extended lunch break.
“I think we should just close a little earlier today. No one’s going to nice anyway” Dolapo said as she headed to her desk.
“I was thinking the same.” Joke responded. “Are you going with the staff bus?”
Dolapo stood frozen in front of her desk.
Joke looked her way when Dolapo failed to respond to her question. “Did you hear me?” Joke walked over to her desk to tap her on the shoulder. “Are you OK?”
No. She was not OK. Dolapo thought as she stared in horror at the single rose stalk placed across her keyboard.
She lost a few more hair strands that night.