This is it. What you have been afraid of is here, glaring you in the face and there is no escaping it. What will you do? What choice will you make now? Will you run away and pretend you were merely a passer-by; blend into the background; become a wallflower like you turn to in all those other situations?
You remember the first time you tried being anything other than a chameleon. It was in the class group chat. Many had taken ill in your class at that point and your classmates—some of them—blamed God for it. Some others said it was payment for the sinful indulgences those affected were guilty of. But you knew differently and wanted to ignore them so badly like you would do at other times. But you couldn't; you knew that all those hours upon hours spent in Bible studies were for times like this one. So you told them in a few words what you understood to be true—that God is not vengeful or vindictive and has no evil. They disagreed with you and although you could easily refute their points, you backed down. Today wasn’t the day, you thought.
When you were young, probably eight years old, there was an incident. You were not the favorite playmate on anyone’s list and the few friends you had thought they were doing you a favor and you believed them. Remember you used to not cry when your hair was braided, daddy was proud of you for this. There was this weekend that daddy couldn’t take you to the salon to braid your hair—mommy was often busy—and a neighborhood aunt offered to do it for you and Gwen, your best friend back then. Although Gwen cried a lot when her hair was being braided and you didn’t, somehow Gwen’s braids were liked far more than yours by all of your friends and playmates. The adults complimented you on being well behaved while your hair was being done but no one refuted the children’s observation.
At nine, you decided to get a low cut like everyone else because you wanted to fit in. You basically took a pair of scissors in the night and chopped off your hair. In the morning, mom screamed at you for what you’ve done but your mind was made up. Later that day, you were taken to the barber’s shop and he gave you a proper low cut. You were proud of yourself; perhaps you’d be somebody now.
Later, at ten, you were fed up with having a low cut. You wanted your hair back and although your school frowned on growing out hair, you started to do it anyway. You have realized at that point that whether your hair was shaved or braided, to these kids, it made no difference. In fact, you noticed the silent jeers at you when you had the low cut. They were always envious of the fact that your parents let you keep your hair in junior secondary school because that was not the case in theirs. And in your ignorance, you decided to be one of them; but not anymore.
Growing back your hair while school was in session couldn’t have been possible if not that Tochi, the girl who sat adjacent to you in class, decided to do so as well. However, the time came too quickly when the teachers started making rounds and warning every student to stick to the school dress code. The warning went on for about two weeks but you paid no heed. You were going to get your cornrows back in no distant time.
On that day, a teacher came into your classroom with scissors and started making rounds. Those who wore unacceptable trousers and shirts had it cut in a manner that there was no fixing it—for the boys mostly—and the girls had many of their pretty earrings seized which were not fullstop. Short skirts were slit at the sides so that there was no going back to them and colored singlets were reprimanded for the last time; it had to be either black or white. When it came to hair, you were visibly afraid. You thought of lying but you have never been good at it, that wasn’t going to stop you from trying now though. Tochi was before you and she told a lie. The front center portion of Tochi’s hair was cut off neatly. You decided that lying wasn’t going to be a way out but you didn’t say anything when it came to your turn. Your hair was cut off the same way as Tochi’s but with a minor stray off the center. This was a warning hair cut.
Afterwards, Tochi said to you that she had changed her mind about growing out her hair to start braiding. That left just you and for once, you decided you’d go through with what you want without any partner. The next day was a school day and you didn’t go to school. Instead, you went to a salon and asked that rubber threads be used to stretch out your hair. You didn’t care the front was damaged; you believed that everything would work out somehow.
Fast-forward ten years into the future, you were tired of your hair being a constant ugly shade of brown, breaking at the tips, dry, dandruff plagued and scanty. This was the time for another change. You’ve talked about the change and gotten responses such as: ‘You are giving up on your hair.’ ‘You must be crazy.’ ‘Your hair isn’t all bad, there is hope salvaging it.’ Your mother’s reply: ‘No daughter of mine would dare carry that ruscafarian hair into my house.’ There were few encouragements such as: ‘Wait a bit. There’s still time for you to try other things before this.’ ‘It’s a bold choice you are making, you’d be really odd.’ That about settled it for you; you’d get your hair dreaded.
The day you got your hair dreaded or locked for the first time, a call came in informing you of a distant relation’s death. You were friends and he had been sick but you saw him about a week ago and he was getting better. Now, every time you remember the day you got your hair dreaded, you’d remember him. You didn’t tell anyone about the coincided dates; it is only for you to know or a stranger who I am.