If you are a woman who has attained the ripe age of marriage but still stuck in your father’s house, and living in a society where only married women are considered responsible, you will understand perfectly my exposition.
You will be so uncomfortable from the seeming isolation the society has left you in. Even your very own family will join the conspiracy. Your parents will call very often to remind you how old and close to their graves they are. They will compare you to your age mates who are already settled down. When the routine calls become incessant, you will enter into depression for a week or two. Then your gold digger boyfriend, a husband or lover of an old friend or a distant relative will gradually take you out of depression with a few inferior women stuffs as gifts, and a forbidden passion. You will decide to take a little break and think things over.
On your way to the grocery store one day, you will run into an old classmate who you had thought was not in your class. She is pregnant and is flaunting her pure gold wedding ring. You will exchange pleasantries and most importantly, phone numbers but jealousy and envy will occupy your thoughts for a couple of days, and will not let you ring her. You will try to brush it aside with the consolation that maybe she was pretending all is well. You will meet a lot more others like her. You will be tempted to empty their cards into the trashcan because they constantly remind you of your singleness, but on a second thought, you will reason that they may be necessary pointers to your quest.
Your parents will send a summoning letter since you have refused to pick up their calls for some time now. You will attend the meeting comprising of your aged parents and relatives, both paternal and maternal, in your family house. They will bombard you with questions only heaven or hell have answers to. The meeting will end in chaos – accusations and counter accusations.
You will take another decision to be more religious, assuring yourself this may help a great deal. The counselors will counsel that you should look around your old friends, for your future “would be.” But you are already in the future; considering your age, you will say within their heart not wanting to doubt your counselors.
You quickly remember that the only place you can look up old friends is Facebook. Sitting up late into the night until your back ache, you ransack the app for ex crushes and their likes. But all you see are photos of happy family men. You will put a little more effort, and you will come across one or two singles and you will message them with detailed intro of yourself. They will reply as though in conspiracy, asking you about your family – husband and kids. You will block them because they failed to understand your language.
Three months later, you will run to your family house to have a private chat with your mother, and she comments on your gloomy countenance which worries her a lot. You will tell her you have finally seen someone to marry and she grins widely, out of excitement. You will give a little more details, that the man is a two-time divorcee and a father of three teenagers. Your mother will furrow her brows. You will add that he is very mean and bossy, constantly reminding you of his sole purpose in your life - to give you a place in the society and nothing more. Your mother will frown some more and then settles suddenly with a wry smile which will make you even more confounded.
On the eve of the wedding your mother will remind you about making your wedding hair and you will tell her you have a great hairdresser to take care of that but she will simply and slowly shake her head in disapproval and will say she has a better option. She will grip you by the wrist and virtually drag you to her bedroom which is beautifully arrayed with purple drapes and lilac backdrops. You will sit on the soft bed adorned with the classiest sheets you have ever seen. She will go into her closet and emerge with a small box. You recognize it as her treasure box; where she keeps all her valuables. She will remove an old complimentary card and press it on your palm. The card has an awkward name and an outdated phone number. You will confirm the oddness of the number again by counting the digits with nods. Your mother will tell you straight to call the number but you will want to air out your observation concerning the old number but she will cut you short with a gesture of quietness. You nod in fear like a robot whose maker is about to destroy to prove an inconsequential point. She will warn you against talking to anyone about it and remind you that most times friends are enemies in disguise.
You will go into your bedroom and lock the door behind you. You call the number with a mind divided into four emotions – fear, doubt , anxiety and curiosity. To your amazement, the phone will ring and a deep echoing baritone voice will sound from the other end which will make you shake. The man will say hello twice before you remember you have to respond. He will tell you where he will pick you up at about 2pm. That is the honor he gives his clients. At exactly 2pm, he emerges in an old model rickety peugeot car . He walks straight to you and introduces himself and you will be taken aback before realizing slowly that he is the one you have been expecting. He will say, shall we? Rolling his deep green eyes like an owl. You will jerk up from the chair with intense fear and follow hypnotically. Scared to look at his green pupils, insanely protruding cheek bones and a puppetry mouth; an alien of a sort, you will sit there like a vegetable.
He will drive for about one and a half hour to an isolated house that looks more like a haunted one. He will open the old padlock with a rusted key that he fumbles out of a bunch of same fate. You will both enter a room that looks like a hair salon, with an old dressing table, a set of chairs and mirror frames without mirrors. He will beckon you to sit while he opens a dusty drawer to remove a large catalogue held together by tiny iron strings and twines. He will tell you to make a choice of your hairstyle and you will take a deep breath and exhale loudly, too afraid to ask the so many questions bothering your mind at the moment. Before he will start, he takes you on a tour as his tradition demands and draws your attention to a tattered wallpaper fastened on the far side of the wall to your left. As you move closer you will see pictures of your mother, grandmother who you only knew by pictures, all your aunties and many others you do not quite know. Yet again fear will not let you say a word. You will gulp down a lump that has been in your throat since arrival. He will tell you proudly but in a few minutes about the caliber of his clientele, and will add that you are next in line and will express his gladness by his squeaky laughter. On a serious note, he will tell you to study carefully the posture of others to avoid mistakes when it is your turn.
Every one of them is holding a part of their hair up, revealing a portion of a chopped chunk and smiling remorsefully but looking radiant at the same time.
The chair will creak as you sit. As more like mystery than reality, the hair will be done after he runs his pale, cold and shaky hands through your hair for a couple of minutes. All through the quick 30 minutes of the fabulous hairdo, your mind will be on the posture thing, learning and rehersing it quietly within the confines of your mind. He will say he is done and will ask you to take the pose for the snapshot that will seal the very essence of your patronage and the perfection of his profession. He will remind you of the smile as you take the pose. An old rusted camera will do the job.
He will drive you back to where he picked you up. Your mum will call the moment you get home to ask how it went but you will be too exhausted and frightened to talk. She will say, she understands.
After the wedding, on the next day, your husband will delightfully serve you breakfast on bed, afterwards plants kisses upon kisses on your forehead while you savour the delicious meal. You will be too shocked to respond and he will be too in love to even notice let alone pick offense.
When he has gone to the gym you will run to your mother to relate what you saw at the salon and your husband’s change of attitude. But she will motion you to hold your peace and instead say, welcome to the club. You will wonder what she is talking about. And she will continue and say, keep the card safe for your daughters if you will have, just for your daughters. It is our family long tradition, she will add, smiling mischievously.