I did try to go and get a proper shave on Tuesday, but that’s the day the barbers go on holiday. Or is it their superstition that they are not allowed to cut hair on a Tuesday? I know in some places, shops close on Mondays because it is bad luck to buy or try on a new cloth on a Monday, therefore the shopkeepers, foreseeing bad business, take a day off on that day. I forget which day is not good for travelling – Tuesday? Or visiting, or showing up at work for the first time. But Tuesdays you’ll never find a barber shop open. So last Tuesday when I found it locked, I lost whatever courage I had to get a proper shave.
And it takes a lot of courage for me, for the moment I sit on the barber’s stool, a crowd gathers, curious to see my hair. The barber will take his time, studying the hair, because this is like nothing he has ever seen before. And the crowd will touch my hair, a million fingers fondling my head to feel the texture of the hair. On more than two occasions, I have seen people pick up and take them home as souvenirs. Hopefully, they only use them for souvenirs and not other evil purpose, like witchcraft, or worshipping their gods, or some such superstition.
Well, by Friday, I was fed up of the way my hair looked. Not that these people care – they think it’s very cute hair. The girls especially love the way it curls, and the way the cornrows form themselves. Some boys asked me how much it costs me to make my hair like that, and for a minute I was tempted to make money out of them. Yet it amused me, that I leave my hair uncombed, and poorly kept, and uncut, for two whole months, and these people think it’s a fashion!
But the hair really bothered me, had started to itch, and while taking showers it consumed a lot of soap.
So I picked a pair of scissors and cut it off myself. A tedious task. I was sort of pleased with my work. No one mentioned anything to me. They wouldn’t tell the difference between badly cut hair, uncombed hair and poorly kept hair. To them, whatever is on my head is a very unique hairstyle that must have cost me a pretty good sum of money.
But then we come to this volunteer conference, and a fellow Ugandan asks me, ‘You man, did you use a knife to cut off your hair?’
That’s how bad it looks. I smiled and whispered to him to hush it, ‘You are the only one who knows that my haircut is awful. No one else does, so don’t tell them anything!’ He roared with laughter, but still kept mum.
Never in my life had I thought i would ever shave myself. Of course I shave in certain private areas :-)) but not the head. And not with a pair of scissors. My friends could not believe when I insisted I used scissors.
Maybe next time I will buy a shaving machine, for they say it cuts smooth and really nicely, so my head won’t look like I shaved it with a knife.