Celebrating East African Writing!
The day was Sunday morning a few years back, I was getting ready to go to church and thank the good Lord for surviving that week. After all, I was in High school and in my teen years; where reputations, feelings and even the ratings on the cool guys’ chart in the community matter.
I looked busy walking around the house like someone doing some critical morning chores, but I was doing nothing, just buying time for operation-curl-my-hair. On the outside I seemed like a saint getting ready to be fed spiritually but on the inside I was twisted like a quack.
I had my clandestine motives and was just waiting for the right moment. In layman’s terms, I was waiting for my mother to get ready and leave the house to me for my mission to be accomplished.
Finally she left, and I had put on a straight face that suggested to her that I was right behind her, that is, once I was through with my grooming. I watched her disappear to the gate, and that to me was an assurance enough that she really had gone to church and there were very remote possibilities of her coming back and shouting at the door “Jimmy, open up I forgot my offering.”
Without wasting my time, I rushed like a run-away train to where she placed her hair conditioners. The names and ingredients of all those greases were alien to me. After all, I am a simple man but that day, I was a disturbed teenager who wanted badly to instantly curl his air with one of those mystery conditioners. I just did not know which.
The conditioners were hazy to me. Come to think of it now, I think it would have been better had I crushed and mixed an over ripe avocado and some eggs in a basin and applied them to my hair. I had heard that concoction worked wonders with some of my relatives’ tough tufts of hair. But no! I wanted to be more sophisticated than them so I settled on using my mother’s expensive jellies and chemicals. After all imagine my teenage anguish if word got out that I used avocados and eggs mixture to curl my hair. Oh dear my ratings on the popularity chart in the teenage community would nosedive. I could not take that chance.
Just a minute now, if you are reading this from America don’t rush to use the avocado and eggs mixture if you have not consulted your FDA. Hey, I am simple writer from Kenya who can’t afford to be sued before getting married. Trust me, if you used that homemade remedy and your hair turned to copper wires, and you decide to sue me, the writer of this column, don’t think you would milk millions from me, just a sympathy pat on your back and then I would run like an intoxicated warthog to avoid your wrath. It’s a disclaimer. I am glad that’s settled back now to my Sunday escapades.
Gazing at all those lotions, I got confused; don’t blame me, I am not a hair products connoisseur. Remember the target here was for my hair to be curled to the extent that if a slight gust of wind was present my hair would get blown just like cowboy’s hair on those Country Westerns movies I was addicted to watching. To me, all those lotions meant one and the same thing – curling my hair. So after a calculated decision-making process that took 37 seconds, I settled on a liquid jelly that had low viscosity and on the side there was a name; something shampoo. I didn’t pay attention to the name. After all I never knew what it meant.
So I proceeded to rub vigorously on my hair this mystery liquid called shampoo. The texture I felt on my hair felt like the foam gotten from soap but I just assumed this is part of the reaction of curling my hair. Surprisingly it never bothered me to use a mirror. Within minutes I was done and getting ready to go to church and bingo! With curled hair or so I thought, I was positive nobody would concentrate on the sermon that day because my curled hair would steal the show. I wiped off the excess mystery liquid that was dripping on my neck and proceeded to get out of the house.
As I was locking the door, I decided to just confirm by touch how my hair felt like. When I ran my hand through the hair, the texture I felt on my hair almost gave me a nervous meltdown. My beloved soft hair texture, now felt like a metallic scouring pad worse than the initial state. I felt conned and ripped off even though the hair products belonged to my mother. How could this be? Now my hair felt like glued feathers.
Thank goodness I come from Kenya. I am not famous, neither are there paparazzi on choppers taking photos on my door step. I could have been recommended to rehab or psychiatrist evaluation by the naughty rogue tabloids that hound Britney Spears when she cuts her hair. I rushed as quickly as I could to the mirror and what I saw was a sight to behold. My hair looked nearly as white as paper, and that was not my original intention when I used the jelly I thought could curl my hair.
The sensible thing then was to rinse my hair and as I did, I realized by experience the name shampoo meant something like soap. All I saw on the basin was foam, it hit me after I rinsed that my hair was back to the initial tough state. Come to think of it, I really don’t feel anyone could have concentrated on the sermon that Sunday had I gone without noticing my shampoo hair mistreatment. I have heard from the Bible, people perish for lack of knowledge.
Although that whole shampoo mishap would not have killed me, oh no, my reputation would have perished just because I lacked enough knowledge to discern the hair conditioners and cleaners.
Taking time in ones life to reflect is vital; it prevents rash decisions that have nasty implications. Take time to reflect on your life decisions before you make them, even if they involve hair treatment. Knowledge is power.
Please don’t feel bad for me I recovered from my hair treatment mishap with no counseling and may I say I am content with hair texture I am not insecure.
© James Karuga 2009
If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Friday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.