Madam started living in our one bedroom face-me-I-face-you before I started working at Happiness. Sometimes, I forget that. Before Madam, it was just my father and I. He told me, back when it was just the two of us, that there used to be another who lived with us. His wife. My mother. He said that she fed me at her breasts, but I don’t remember her. Continue reading
“Abeg oh, do better hair for me. Not the one that you will nod now and miss the point on my head.”
She looked at her friend as she spoke and they burst out laughing as if she had said something funny and I had really missed the point of it. I smiled at the picture of the pretty woman on her phone wearing long curly brazilian weavon. I have never understood when customers get angry because their hair does not look like the hair in the picture that they show me. They will bring a picture showing me either the side of the hair or the front of the hair and expect me to formulate a twin of the look. I always chuckle at their naivete. Like now. Look at this picture for example, this is a pretty woman with a slim, long face and big, round eyes. The chubby-faced, chinko looking woman on my chair now expects me to make her look like this woman? I am not a magician. What these customers don’t know is that what they like in those pictures is the entire look that their hair style gives the picture. But I am not a magician. I cannot even do make-up. If I could, trust me, I would. It makes me light up from deep inside when customers leave my chair looking beautiful and knowing it. It’s a pity, though, many of them, especially these ones that come with pictures, are always so carried away by the woman in the picture that they fail to see how beautiful the work I have done looks for them. Continue reading
Madam had been back for many weeks now and of course, we had all served our punishment for the major incidence that happened the last time. I say major because, you know, every day brought its own incidence. If Saida wasn’t firing her long tongue at Kelechi, then Iyabo and Mary were picking fights with each other silently. Me? I am not as trouble free as I would like you to think. You see, unlike Saida and some of the other girls at Happiness, I don’t have a quick tongue. It is very hard for me to say the things that I feel in the way that I feel them. This is why even Madam has never had a reason to call me rude. But don’t get it twisted, I am not quiet. A quiet person is quiet in both words and actions. What I cannot do with my mouth, I find other ways to do with my actions. Continue reading
When you work in a place called Happiness hair and beauty salon, you usually expect to walk into your workshop every day, with all of your teeth on display. You expect your far from white teeth to greet the smiles on the faces of the people you work with. You also expect these smiles to last the entire day. And then repeat the whole thing the next day. Right? Ha! I laugh at you for your naivety. I laugh at you because it may have taken five years, but I can tell you now that Happiness hair and beauty salon is very very far from a happy place. Hilarious, maybe, but happy? Okay, come with me. Let me show you.
There was a building at the end of Bankole close. It was a small, isolated building; not the typical building that closes end with. It was flanked by what seemed like two endless vasts of lands populated by greenery and shrubbery. Most of Bankole close mimicked the look of these pieces of lands. There were some buildings-in-progress and a couple of unpainted completed buildings. In the day time, most of Bankole close saw tens and tens of shirtless, sweaty manual laborers working to transform blueprints into concrete realities.
Occasionally, expensive looking cars would pull up at the lands populated by greenery and shrubbery and shielding their eyes with one hand, they would gaze far into the distance, trying to determine where the land being offered them at what was a ridiculously cheap price ended. They never quite seemed to see the end. These visits usually ended with firm, sturdy handshakes and very happy salesmen who took yet another victory to Aunty B’s, the beer parlour a few doors away from the building at the end of Bankole close.
The building at the end of Bankole close had not always been there. It had showed up almost a year ago when a small woman pulled up not in an expensive car, but by foot. She had looked at the small piece of land that the salesman had told her was the most that she could buy for the money that she had. She smiled, satisfactorily, undid part of her wrapper, and handed the salesman a small bundle of money. Her name was Telema and at the time our story begins, she sat on a small stool outside the building at the end of Bankole close, fanning herself with a small flap of cardboard, watching the usual movement of development on Bankole close accompanied by the loud sounds of construction. Continue reading