It’s 4.30am in the morning and I’m wide awake…why? Because I’ve had a traumatic trip to the hairdressers and I keep wondering if when I take off my gorgeously sexy make shift hair net, if I will pleased with what I see. Will it remind me of the cunning hairdresser with whom gave me a bish bash hair job for hard earned cash? Will I count the days until the monstrosity is removed from my head?
It’s 4.35am…still can’t sleep, replaying my hair journey in my head. Every niggling painful plait and stitch, every word of idle gossip her over arched eyebrow friend laced her ears with and then the utter disappointment that struck me when she’d finished. With each replay, my voice is the commentator, telling me what I should have said, should have done. As the drum and bass beats of my husbands snoring fill the room, I decide that the classical sound of birds in our humble living room would be a better soundtrack to my early morning insomnia.
Switching on the laptop, I run to my solace of hair wisdom, the encyclopaedia of hair, my ultimate consultant of all consultable – you tube. Just as my heart is getting reassured with remedies of how to fix my small but majorly relevant hair issues, I think to myself – why do I bother? After all, it’s just hair.
I blame my husband.
There are a number of things that we do, simply because of our beloveds. These do not include the basics like basic hygiene – these things I hope you would do for yourself and the rest of humanity particularly, if you are boarding public transport. I am referring to going that extra mile even, when it is out of your comfort zone, out of things you do or like to do. Personally, this goes into the precious area of my hair.
Prior to marriage, I would have a different drastic hair do – each month. One month, it would be very short and edgy the next long and wavy. Last year, I made the drastic move to chop all my hair off and go natural – no relaxer. My hair is like barb wire; my big sis refers to it as indestructible. I’ve broken countless blow dryer afro pics and had hairdressers looking in need of a cocktail of ibuprofen and paracetemol after trying to relax it. When I first cut my hair, my hubby and I concluded that I looked like a village African school girl. I promptly decided to grow my hair out with the help of braids and I was pleased when my hair grew long enough to rock an afro – big and proud.
To make my hubby feel involved in my hair journey I asked him one day, ‘how would you like my hair?’
To my hair and I’s horror, he replied ‘long and straight’.
My hubby had landed a Muhammed Ali sized punch on my dreams. They came crashing down to the floor harder than Joe Frazier. All sorts of thoughts came to my mind. Did he not understand what I was trying to achieve? Did he not watch the Chris Rock DVD on Good Hair close enough? Did he not appreciate my natural beauty? And my mind just rocketed to all sorts of thoughts till it landed on
‘But you didn’t meet me that way!’
That thought rattled in my head for a while. The Martians and I were walking around on ‘Nonsense Thoughts Neptune’ questioning if my hubby had forgotten who I was. Had he forgotten my creative hairstyles? Was he comparing me to some fantasy he had or something he had seen somewhere? Did he not find me attractive in my natural state?
Resentment brewed strong within me, so decided to do just the opposite to what he’d so innocently said. I wanted to be ‘Miss Nubian Queen’ so badly that, I was prepared to risk being Mrs Emina. I relinquished my hubby’s hair consultant partnership rights and just informed him of appointment times and dates.
Having enjoyed the summer experimenting with afro styles and surrendering to a short curly scarecrow looking like weave for my sisters wedding, Christmas/New Year hair ideas had started to formulate. I caved in and finally out of a selfish, bitter, angry and full of attitude heart, I thought ‘I should give the man what he wants’.
There were many who appreciate this new look but, some who were encouraging me in my natural hair journey questioned me.
‘Where’s the afro gone?’ they’d ask. And I’d feel as though I had betrayed my natural sisters, I’d answer with guilt and impassion,
‘My hubby doesn’t like it’.
I’ve lost count the amount of times, I said that. I’d see someone else with a big bushy afro and immediately start hungering for my own. I’d look over at my husband with dagger eyes. Last weekend, I’d taken my hair out of my weave and inspired by one of my all natural colleagues from work; decided to dye it deep red. To my disappointment and my hubby’s gratitude to God, it didn’t work. My black brown wild hair, just stared back at me as if to say ‘are you dun? do sumtin!’
‘But, I don’t like red hair.’
If only my hubby could see the colour of my anger when he uttered those words ever so sweetly. I awoke on Sunday morning, twisted out my twists and magnified the size of my fro in defiance. I got to church and someone who is an admirer of my hair questioned why I didn’t just rock it all the time. Again, those bitter words came out…
‘My hubby doesn’t like it’.
Those words followed me through to Valentines Day. After being wowed by my most amazing Valentines Day gifts ever, I rushed to get my hair done accompanied with the ‘let’s do what the man wants’ attitude. Later on in the evening I was asked, what happened to the afro and yes you can guess what I said…
With my hearts paced slowed down from its Hussein Bolt’s speed and the back drop of Thurrock’s birds symphony playing, I’ve somehow been cleansed of my hair nightmare. Instead of my hairdresser glossophobia (inability to express dislike to hairdressers) taunting me, those defiant words and my behaviour is pulling on the reigns of my valentine heart.
‘My hubby doesn’t like it’.
I must admit how terribly wrong I was, how silly and close minded. Retracing my steps I can see that my hubby never wanted me to change. He didn’t insist. He never complained about the extra large, Cleopatra style braids on my head or the Bob Marley length twists. All he had expressed was a preference. The same way, someone can prefer scrabbled eggs over poached eggs, or sleeping with the light on or off, music or silence. He didn’t love me any less or any more with my hair straight, afro, curly or uncombed.
Love is a conscious decision and many times, it requires of us what we are not prepared or even what to give.
Sometimes, it may mean letting someone watch re runs of CSI, sometimes it may mean doing your hair in a particular way, washing the dishes, tidying up the house or sending a card. It is costly and it can be painful but that’s love. Granted there are some requests that go out the acceptable limit – appetites in sex or physical abuse. The vast majority of them though, will be perfectly reasonable.
It’s 6.09am in the morning and I’m signing off. With my mind and heart, safely landed on Planet Earth, I am prepared for whatever I see underneath my head scarf…with my straighteners, hair products and you tube on hand.