We formed a little crowd on the edge of Aunty’s garden which was still under construction, waving sparklers and drinking wine. I clung unto bae as we stared up at the multitude of colours that lit up the foggy new year sky. Half amazed, half shaken. The fireworks looked heavenly but sounded like grenades and eternal bombardment. It was only natural for me to use bae as human sheild in case any dropped near us.
In the midst of all the beautiful chaos going on above, Aunty made sure I had my own glass and poured me some wine. Her third attempt at getting me drunk after I refused the Ramazotti and Dornfelder earlier in the evening. I pretended to enjoy the wine but envied the children as they sipped their orange juices. But despite my lack of appreciation for good ol’ wine and my shell shock and temporary loss of hearing from all the racket above, the first few minutes of 2016 were truly glorious and I was very grateful to have spent them with family.
A few hours of sleep and a cup of chammomile later, I reflected on the past year and thought about one other thing I was very grateful for. My hair of course! And our very special relationship filled with all the volatility and passion of any genuine partnership.
‘Gosh, how long has it been?’ I asked.
‘Hmm, about two years and nine months.’ It replied.
‘Wow. And we’re still here.’ I laughed.
‘Yep. Still here.’
‘We’re good. Right?’
‘What? Oh yeah, we’re good. But do you mind taking off this scarf now cos I can’t breathe.’
‘Oh sorry!’ I said as I removed my scarf.
That right there. That is what you call improvement. Even I can hardly believe it. There was a time when trying to communicate with my hair felt like the most pointless thing to do. A. total. waste. of. energy. Dan would laugh at me and say, ‘you crazy girl, how can you be talking to your hair?’ But he knows very well how crazy I am. I just think he would much rather live with me than be making weekend visits to a psych ward.
Ughhh! The countless times I’ve tried to engage this hair in conversation and it would totally ignore meee! Like, how hard is it for you to just tell me if something is wrong??? I remember the dreadlock incident when I completely got aired. I mean, I received maximum silent treatment the only thing left to do was cry. But now things are different. Not perfect but we can hold reasonable conversations. Sometimes. Okay, it’s more a sort of working relationship but let’s just say I’ve learned to communicate better with my hair.
Another thing I’ve had to learn is basically how to survive. My move to Germany has been one great adventure but certainly not what I anticipated. Having grown up in London with the privilege of being surrounded by my own people and a rich mix of other ethnic groups, I reached bae’s hometown and thought ‘Hol up! Hol up! Jus hol up! Where are all the Africans?’ Then realised, ‘Oh my God! There are no Africans and this is not a test!’ Okay, you’d find Africans when you travel to the city centre. But in my neighbourhood? There are only two African families I know of and one of them is mine. Can you just imagine? Survival meant susbstituting pounded yam for Kartoffeln puree and griess. Thank God we eventually found the real deal. But when it came to my hair, there was nothing to be found! No hairdressers, no hair products. Nothing. It was like being lost in space.
During the early days, I once saw a girl with braids in her her and chased her down the shopping centre. I was so excited, I had finally found someone who could help me. When I asked for her hairdresser’s number, her eyes shifted uncomfortably as she told me she didn’t think she could help me. My determined african spirit wouldn’t take no for an answer so I didn’t leave her alone till she gave me a number. But I never called. How could I? I’d probably get the poor girl in trouble for giving a total stranger her friend’s mom’s number.
That’s when I knew that if I was going to survive, I would either have to relocate to Cologne, Frankfurt, Essen or any other part of Germany with a longstanding african community. There, I would have easy access to all the hair extensions and hair products I could possibly wish for, African hairdressers that could save me on those mad days when I just can’t deal with my hair and not to mention all the pounded yam, ogbonno and real pepper I could ever dream of. And if that wasn’t possible (and sadly it wasn’t), I had to simply accept my fate and figure this hair thing out on my own. And I can tell you now, being a student at the outpost branch of the Independent School of Natural Hair has not been easy but it’s been fun.
For instance, I have learned some useful avoidance tactics. My personal notes:
HOW TO AVOID BOGUS FINGERS:
1. KEEP YOUR ENDS TUCKED AWAY. The ends of your hairs are like antennas that transmit electrical signals attracting fingers of strangers towards your hair. keep them out of sight!
2. IF THAT FAILS, WEAR A SCARF. A scarf blocks the signal transmissions. (Trust me it works). I wore a scarf and was amazed at Chriselda’s reaction. Think cats and cucumbers. The scarf poses a similar unexplained threat like the cucumbers to the cats.
Last year, I also made some intersting discoveries about my hair. I’ve been testing theories and discovering that I don’t need to do half the things I’ve been doing to maintain it. I’ve changed my hair care routine from weekly to fortnightly. I’ve even cut out my rich and creamy homemade conditioner from my routine. When washing out my hair and I would see all that yummy goodness going down the drain, I would always think, ‘damn, that could have gone nicely with some chips.’ I’ve stopped trimming too and still haven’t turned into Cavewoman. The funny thing is that my hair doesn’t even seem to have noticed any of these changes. If it has, it hasn’t complained yet.
This year I plan to keep putting my theories into practice. Hopefully they won’t backfire and take a detrimental toll on my hair health in the long run. Who knows, perhaps if I continue without conditioners my hair will become one great sheet of carpet, or a tree stump like I never washed out that Aphogee or maybe become totally lifeless and wilt like cooked spinach! Ok that last one is actually scary but in any case I am willing to take risks for love. If it doesn’t work out then I can only pray God grants me more time to regrow my hair, repent of my unorthodox ways and start doing things the conventional way. At this point, I’d like to include a little disclaimer.
Disclaimer: This statement is to ensure that I am harmless to any form of prosecution if you consider trying any of my preposterous methods mentioned above. Try only at your own risk because if strange things start happening when you do, it won’t be my fault . Don’t come looking for me or say I didn’t warn you! What works for one person might not work for the other. Just saying!
Me and this hair have come a long way. It’s taught me to fall in love and shown me how fun life can be with just the two of us. Our relationship has greatly improved and I am hopeful that this year it will only get better. Like with many relationships, we will still face challenges but like Obama once said, together we can-
‘Err nah, he actually said yes we can.’ Hair corrected.
Ok whatever! Gosh I was actually trying to say something nice about this hair but I’ll just not bother!! Honestly, this year, its all about simplifying everything. For my sanity. As much as I still hold on to my goals of reaching hair lengths that sweep floors and staircases, I still want to be sane while achieveing that. So if it is not necessary, I ain’t gon do it! And I mean that. I can’t be letting any hair stress me. This year I’m going to relax, take a chill pill and as best I can, let nature do most of the work. What’s the worse that could happen? 🙂