High school, new experience, new life. I hear people telling stories of how hard high school life was. Not me. I had the best time ever. It was not your everyday kind of high school. It was a private school but unlike other private missionary schools, with freedom and liberty. Apart from my blouses and skirts getting stolen (I think this is a common denominator), I had a blast.
I got this friend who introduced me to the world of relaxers. It would make my hair longer, shiner and easy to maintain, she said. Unlike the blow-dry, this could last for a whole school term. Her point was valid. By the mid-term, the hair was back in its natural kinky state. Woe unto you if you sweat too much or got rained on. We had a lady who slept with a shower cap on the first day of the term. We were woken by her screams in the morning. Her hair was all shrunk. Anyway, my newly-made friend had convinced me. What’s better, she told me that knew how to do it. It was my lucky day. All I had to do was buy the relaxer and she would take care of the rest.
Oh, the naivety that was me. Others warned me. My hair was beautiful, they said. Why ruin it? Might I add that I can be quite stubborn when I set up my mind? I made the purchase. It turned out the lady was not an experienced hairdresser as she had led me to believe. Within a few minutes my head was on fire. I ran for the showers. My scalp got scalded and later had painful sores. I looked like a rained-on cat. That doesn’t quite picture it. On one side, I looked like a rained-on cat and the other I looked like Diana Ross. It was a catastrophy.
Come holidays, my mum was beside herself with fury. It was a pity I was too old to be caned. Being the wise lady she was she knew prohibiting it would lead to more of such antics. Temporary solution- gives me what I wanted. She would rather take me to a professional than have me experiment some more.
So every start of the term, I’d have my hair relaxed. At the end of the term, I would be back with damaged and falling out hair. This process went on until I finished my secondary school. I doubt my hair really grew. I liked how it looked at the start of the term though.
I got my hair break (I will call it that) after high school. That is when my hair flourished. I could go for treatments, wash and set and retouches. My mum didn’t mind doing this since her other daughters could care less about their hair. It became a long curly mane. I got many compliments and questions as well. What do you use on your hair? How do you make it curly? One day as I styled my mane (can I call it that?), I looked at the mirror and remembered my prayer as seven year old. It had come true. I had long hair.
Doing my tertiary education in one of the hottest, extremely humid places in Kenya posed one problem. The sweating. I thought girls did not sweat until I lived in Mombasa. It was not surprising to see someone walking and sweat dripping allover his face. The tales from the Mills and Boons’ series that had led me to believe sweat in a man is an endearing thing did not prepare me to the true reality. If you actually think about it, if you did not sweat, what other ways is this liquid discharged? I am not trying to disgust you, just don’t believe everything the novels say.
For a girl like me, it was a hair disaster. My hair lost its curly and bouncy effect. I’d get a compliment on how gorgeous my hair was and the dark, vain side of me would rear its head. “You should have seen it before I came here,” I would say, without noticing how arrogant I may have sounded.
My hair was limp and having tweaked my hairstyle with a bang (or fringe), by the time I arrived for my lectures, it was all plastered on my forehead. I’d hold the fringe with one hand and fan with the other. The struggle was real. Don’t even ask why I couldn’t change the hairstyle. I don’t understand my then obsession with the bangs. Tyra Banks probably.
To be continued…