The Hair Business.
I unscrew my hair; colour spoilt ropes of intertwined braids, licking at my shoulder blades.
I am at my window, leaning out slightly, the street below is quiet and lacking of life. That kind of life that cuts my being into nice jubilant pieces.
The stores are open but quiet, cars drive past with care, the sky is a clear, clear landscape with wide, fluffy hills. The flower shop angled sideways to my view has a celebration of bouquets outside their brick and glass outlet.
The gentility of dandelions, the crimson of roses, the brightness of sunflowers, calm aura of camellias, the paleness of lilies and carnations, the sharpness of chrysanthemums, and azaleas.
The bees roving over this brilliant cacophony grants the arrangement some drama.
On such days like this, this view, varied, always calms me. But now the pang of discomfort comes in when my eyes settle on the beauty store close to the flower shop.
At this time, the shop’s door has been opening and closing without count. From the lips, are women who walked in; unpainted, undecorated, bare, scarfed, concealed and anticipating some artificial transformation, and came out; in undercuts, bright weaves, shiny curls, stylish dreads in short clips. Sun-brown ringlets, twists and screws that sit with pride.
I finger my hair again. Well not my hair, but a redefined version of it- however attached. It feels scratchy on my fingers. When I looked in the mirror before now, I saw the colors fading; green, red, yellow, and black.
I’d made it to embrace home. To wear my Ghanian flag beanie, and enjoy the artistic merge it had with my tresses. I’d had it to the community church, and was gladdened with the hugs and pecks of approval from fellow Ghanaian brethrens.
Nana Constance ran her brittle fingers through it, as though to confirm their reality.
Mrs. Kofo promised to have it on her daughter’s head come next service.
I had intended to take it off today, a quiet Saturday, without much to do at the drugstore, and possibly a lot more to do at the bar, so maybe a bare head hidden beneath my work beret would have me around the seedy establishment with bearable grit.
But he is coming today. He just called a few days before. He told me he didn’t abandon me after the last date. Green card stuff, and apartment wahala, he explained.
He would like some ken-key or jollof rice to celebrate. He would come with the needs; turkey how many kilo? What kind of rice do I buy? Soy beans or groundnut oil?
I laughed. I promised to send him the details. I don’t know why I am thinking about this now though, there is nothing bad or extremely eventful about things in my life really.
Maybe the fact that I am leaving my two months braids for a man I have met once. But with us sitting in the far corner of a downtown pizzeria, castigating the tomatoes and the mushrooms and cooking up the possibility of founding a Ghanian restaurant in this town, or more realistically, paying a good Ashanti migrant to do that for us.
What were your favorite dishes, he asked.
Waakye, I said.
I bet you tried to get an alternative with rice and peas, right? He asked with a smirk.
How do you know? You tried it too?
I think every Ghanaian here as tried it.
So what was yours?
Kelewele.. Mmm that crisp, deliciousness.
Ohh.. Did you have to wait in line at a roadside for the woman to prepare the plantains?
Yes! I and my friends would even help her offload it from the wheelbarrow every afternoon after school.
Then there was our eyes, passing memories, exchanging sights, and making things abut promises.
And that also brought up a subtle notion of marriage. Something we quickly picked up on, and then laughed over.
But I can make anything Ghanaian as much as my sisters back home still can.
Really? I’d like to see what you can do before I hire you.
And yet again, we laughed.
I am looking out of my window, the girls are still coming out and in. I wonder if I should get some flowers for my eternally empty vase in the kitchen.
I wonder what he will think when he sees my hair, would he prefer it shiny, and slightly unpolitical?
I wonder why I should care about this strands, wooly, and unbraiding, but still unbelievably good to look at.
I wonder why this hair is my primary business, perhaps because I want to not have many things to do with my pressing business.