“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
I partition the hair on my head into six sections. I comb each section and loosely tie each into a knot. I don’t take my eyes off the mirror in front of me. I pick up my container of leave – in conditioner. Empty. I toss the container behind me in anger. I don’t have time for this. I walk out of the room and go straight to the kitchen. I go through the trash hoping to find an empty plastic bottle. I call out to my brother.
‘Get me either your compass or divider from your math set.’
The rat does not budge. ‘Please, Tola.’ When he brings to me, I hand him the bottle. ‘Puncture the cover like somebody who has sense o and bring it to my room with a sachet of pure water.’ He distorts his face like someone in pain. I look at him pointedly.
Back in my room, I lay out my oils – Argan, Coconut, Carrot with a hint of lavender, Olive with few drops of Eucalyptus, Castor with a few drops of lemon oil, Jamaican Black Castor oil with a few drops of tea tree oil, my coconut and olive and carrot oil and a mixture of all the oils I have. I settle for the Jamaican black Castor oil and tea tree oil. I put the rest carefully in my kit. I have a brother who is perpetually out to get me. I pour the sachet water into the bottle and cover it. I press the bottle in the middle so that the water spurts into my hair. I apply it per section. I oil each section thoroughly and finally lock the moisture in with my thoroughly whipped ‘aloe veraed’ shea butter. I sub divide each section into four and make tight bantu knots. I baptise the knots with my hair mousse and wear my shower cap. I have four hours to prepare for the date.
‘I love your hair. It is glorious.’
I give a small nod. I look at my fingers. Things are going south. It started when the oil in my hair began to drip unto my shawl. I feel the oil moving down my temple to my jaw. I move my shawl around my shoulders to clean up the oil on my nape.
‘Can I touch it?’ I catch his hand in mid-air. ‘Sorry. I didn’t mean to be so forward.’ I give him a painful smile. Then when he came to pick me up, the rain started. It’s been thirty minutes, the rain is not showing any sign of letting up. ‘So, maybe we could watch some of your favourite movies, you know, the ones you are always talking about.’
And so we are in my parent’s living room watching ‘Star Wars: Attack of the Clones’ on my parents tv. For a moment, I am beginning to enjoy myself until he tries to put his arm around my neck. ‘Mimi?’ ‘Yeah?’ ‘Why does your neck feel so sticky?’ He takes his arm away. The crook of his elbow is soaked in oil. I quickly apologise. We return to the movie. The scene is where Padme confesses her true feelings for Skywalker. We get lost in the moment and he leans in for a kiss. My alarm bells go off, a little too late. The kiss lands on my shimmering forehead. I scramble off the couch and put in some distance between us. I hold out my hands.
‘Sesan, this was a mistake. I am sorry I led you on and ….’
I notice his shimmering lips. He rubs the oil off with the sleeves of his shirt.
‘I am sorry.’
He smiles at me. ‘I had a nice time.’
I come closer to shake his hands, but he steals a full hug. He holds his face away from my hair but gets oil on his lips when he kisses my jaw. We both laugh. He says goodbye. I hope to see him again.