As we drove into Adeniran Ogunsanya street, one of the most popular streets in Surulere, I thought about my uncle with the same surname. I was about to ask my mum about it, if it was named after him but I didn’t because I knew the answer would be accompanied with some sort of family history I wasn’t ready for. I had seen a street in ikorodu with the same name so I settled for that instead since that was our hometown.
It has been two years since I was last in Lagos. I didn’t feel out of place like I feared I would, it felt exactly the same way I left it. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not because that means there was no progress in my absence. I kept looking left and right to take in all the images I could, I was only around for 3 months and I vowed to use every single minute wisely. We passed Adeniran Ogunsanya Mall and I made a mental note to come back to get the filmhouse schedule after I was done with my hair. Ify and I were going to come back later so we had to get the time right.
I saw Habib yogurt as we kept driving down, it wasn’t a big fancy building but I noticed it because I had always wanted to taste it. Fareedah had gone on and on about her dear habib yogurt, she lived in Abuja and apparently they have a lot of branches there. Most of the buildings were so close to each other, like siblings forced to sit together after a big fight, some only separated by miserly looking fences. There were hardly parking spaces, you could see the back of the cars shooting out into the road forcing the other drivers to swerve a little more towards the middle.
We finally got to the end of the road and my mum pointed at a building, ADA SHOPPING PLAZA and told me that was where the hair dresser’s shop was so I jumped out of the car with my bag and waved goodbye as quickly as possible because the drivers behind were already pressing the horns like mad people. I couldn’t blame them really, Lagos makes you at least a percent madder than you were before, if you were at all.
“Good afternoon ma” I said loudly because I wasn’t ready to repeat myself.
“Good afternoon my dear, do you want to make your hair? ” a woman replied. I guessed she was the hairdresser. I didn’t feel irritated, I often felt irritated when people I wasn’t familiar with used that term for me, ‘my dear’. I would think about why later, maybe it was only applicable to a subset of strangers.
“Yes ma, I want to make Ghana weaving”. “It should have side parting and I want it to be one big, one small and I also want two two on each sides but I want to wash it first” I continued while trying my best to describe the style by outlining it on my scarf.
“Okay I know it, two two like Alicia keys abi? ”
“Okay come and sit down here” “which colour of attachment do you want to use?”
“Colour 33” I blurted after thinking for about 5 seconds. I’m not sure why I didn’t reply immediately, it’s the same colour I’ve been using for about 5 years now.
She called her sales girl to go and buy from another hairdresser upstairs, not that I cared to know but she told me the customer before me used the last one. I didn’t believe her anyway. She said the attachment was 1100 naira so I gave the sales girl the money. A fat woman entered the shop and sat down, she seemed familiar with the hairdresser because she just continued watching TV like she was there before.
I removed my scarf and the bun inside and placed both on the chair beside me.
“Ah ó ò ti tú rún e” – you’ve not loosened your hair
“It’s just four, I’ll loosen it now”
I looked at her face for a reaction to my reply but I got nothing. We started loosening the four cornrows. She loosened two with a tailed comb while I tackled the other two with my fingers. We finished at the same time and we proceeded to wash it.
“Shebi irun re? ko n se bi Aunty bori bori yen to wa lojo yen ti gbogbo wa bere sin bo mu” – is this not hair too? Not like that hijabi woman that came that day and we all started covering our nose. It was the fat woman. I pretended not to hear and just continued to enjoy the cold water as it touched my scalp.
The two women proceeded to have a conversation about my natural hair not needing any blow dryer else I’d be screaming when it’s time to make it. The hair dresser also said something about my hair being soft compared to some people’s ‘strong virgin hair’ she had dealt with.
When she was done washing it, she towel dried it and true to her words, she started plaiting it damp like that. I had just completed transitioning into natural hair about 3 months backbso the process was still new to me, I just went with the flow.
She parted the first one and took a huge chunk of green hair cream from a transparent bowl like she was taking a morsel of swallow. I cringed and told her to reduce it because it was too much. I knew what would happen already, it’d all end up on my pillow anyway. She barely reduced it and rushed to put the rest all over my head, she probably didn’t want me to tell her to reduce it again, I wasn’t going to anyway.
I watched her do the first two and when I was satisfied that she really understood the style, I brought out a novel from my bag, Purple Hibiscus. I had started reading it at home and stopped where Eugene big head called Aunty Ifeoma, angry at her for making Jaja and Kambili live in the same house with a heathen, the heathen being their father. I continued from where I stopped earlier only stopping to look at the mirror once in a while. She sometimes went to blow her nose whilst still making my hair and I was disgusted because I don’t think she washed her hands after. She kept talking about how she wished she brought her Robb to the shop and she got into an argument with the barber next door about a towel she used to clean her fan and apparently refused to wash.
She finished my hair in about an hour 30 minutes and it looked really good. I said thank you smiling asked how much it was.
“EH??” I shouted. The last time I was in Lagos, Ghana weaving was about 1000 naira so I was honestly shocked.
“Ahn ahn, e pariwo ni? Se e ri pe o fine ni? It’s very fine and neat na” she seemed irritated that I shouted.
I replied immediately “e jo, o ti won ju, sebi ghana weaving ni? Mo de ti sanwo attachment lo to” – please , it’s too expensive, is it not Ghana weaving? and I’ve even paid for the attachment separately.
The two women started laughing at me , apparently they didn’t know I could speak yoruba.
“Ehn, oya bring 3000” she said reluctantly
“Thank you” I muttered , squeezing my face. I was going to price it further to 2,500 but I knew she wasn’t going to agree so I just didn’t bother. I paid the money, folded my scarf, put the bun in my bag and left.
I texted my mum angrily about how overpriced things in surulere were and how she should let me have done it at Agege where I wanted. She called me back laughing at me and telling me money is meant to be spent. She said she’d be there to pick me in an hour so I decided to walk down to SLOT to see the price of the new iPhone even though I knew I wasn’t buying anything.
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