by Joan Masinde:
As far back as I remember… I hated you! I believed your sole reason for growing was to ruin Sunday playtime with my friends. You were so painful and difficult. Mum never wanted to see me cry, but because I chose to keep you long she endured the sessions as well. In retrospect I don’t think the neighbourhood Salonist knew how to handle you either. You were always hard, dry and kinky. I really hated you.
Nobody thought I looked pretty in my napier-grass-like hair. Every time I went to school with you open and free, the teachers as well as schoolmates all looked at me like I was homeless; yet they knew where I lived. Surely, I looked like lacked money to go to the salon to keep you straight and ‘pretty’. I always wondered why God never made you straight and soft. You really made my childhood really hard.
Then, dear hair, you flipped the script. At some point, you stopped growing all together; and if you did you only grew in the middle of my head, never on the sides! I was perplexed! I hope one day you can tell me what the problem was. Your behaviour even made a teacher desire to shave you off on my behalf. She refused to believe me when I told her you only grew in one style: Mohawk. No one ever accepted me because of you.
“Nyoa yote!” (Cut it all off) is what I told the man at the barbershop. I had woken up one morning and decided it was time to let you go! I had taken enough from you.
I’ve never regretted anything like that in my life. I looked even worse than before. My forehead was more pronounced and my ears were all out. It was a disaster! Now everyone thought I was a boy and my dressing didn’t help the situation. O! I should have loved you. I should have treated you better.
I learned from my mistake and began to treat you like the queen of my heart. Slowly but surely you started to respond to my affection. You were not soft and straight like the girls in Ebony magazine but you were big and beautiful. You grew boldly and I loved it. You grew differently. You defied gravity and grew upwards. You gave me the confidence I needed to be at odds with the world beauty and I loved it. The buzz finally caught on about you and your comrades and people embraced the once ‘homeless’ look. People in magazines looked different. They looked like me. They had my type of hair. You became a statement of bold African beauty.
Never stop growing and glowing my dear, never stop.
Your true love,
Images by Moraa Ataya