They say your hair is your mane. Others say it’s your reflection and it says so much about you. He says hair is a source of income, since he grows his then cuts it for sale. That only sounds weird until you know that he grows locs, like a farmer grows maize or tea. Answers to the name Amos. He happens to be the best loctician in Litein town. His shop is situated just opposite Litein Boys.
At first, he was an employee in a different salon. Thats where our journey began, with me asking a plethora of questions like how long my locs would take to gain volume or how long a client who had just walked in had had their locs. It was a fancy salon, with swinging chairs and a billion and one white towels. Over time, I have come to gauge the standards of salons basing on the number of towels available.
Amos and I got off on the wrong foot. I went in for installation after watching several youtube videos on how it’s done. There’s a particular video I made him watch as soon I was seated and he had covered my shoulders with a white nice smelling towel. I was determined to make my locs look old and puffy on day one.
Before the video was over, he looked me in the eyes and said, ” My dear, ninajua what I am doing. Itabidi umeniaminia sister, ama uende kwingine.”
I was offended. First of all, he had called me ‘my dear’ and secondly, he was rude. Did he not know that the customer is always right? I wanted to drop a note in a suggestion box and bang the door on my way out after yelling, “Nonsense!” But I did not. Partly because there was no suggestion box in that salon and partly because I did not know any other loctician in town. So I told him to do his thing, and I took my earphones then listened to soothing music.
He did a pretty decent job, but my ego never allowed me to admit it. At least not to him. I went back to him for the subsequent retwists, despite the fact that he did not cease calling me ‘my dear’. Turns out that that’s just how he called everyone. He would also flirt around with anything that came in a skirt. He put the play in foreplay. Suffice it to say that the man had more woman problems than a woman.
Then he got fired. One of his colleagues snitched on him to their boss about his flirting. He then moved to where he is currently. Now he was on his own. He must have sat himself down because he totally transformed after the experience. Business was slow at first, because the clients would go to the former salon he worked in. Instead of the swinging chairs and comfy sofas for the clients in line, there was a wooden bench and two plastic chairs. He must have had only three towels or thereabout because they would be still wet whenever he put one over your shoulders.
The guy had no dryer and so he served clients out in the sun so the wax would melt. We went there anyway. Most of us, or perhaps even all of us followed him to that God-forsaken place. Rather, we followed his skills. Aren’t we supposed to acknowledge that the artist is separate from his art? Artists are humans; I wouldn’t stop listening to Michael Jackson just because he changed his skin colour. But that’s just me.
ALSO READ; A TALE OF TWO CHILDREN.
Locs develop in five stages; Starter, budding, teen, maturity and rooted. The stages could go for a span of 18 to 24 months. They start out looking skinny and emaciated. It’s even worse when you were using chemical products on your hair before deciding to get locs. Then they thicken and look puffy at the budding phase. And at that point, you are thinking to yourself how the decision to lock down your mane was the best decision ever.
Then the teen stage arrives and the horror begins. The locs insist on standing upright even after laying them down. They also shrink and behave like unruly teens, hence the name. At this point, you begin to nurse regrets and even contemplate shaving it all down for a fresh start. The pictures in your gallery of your long afro before you interfered with your mane never really make it any easy.
The maturity stage then comes and that is about the time you begin to see the magic. Locs get denser and there’s no frizz. You begin to sing Hallelujah. The final stage comes unapologetically and people begin confusing you with Skip Marley. Okay. Maybe not. But the point is patience. Galore patience.
I was misled to think that locs are low maintenance and that was one of the main reasons why I got them in the first place. Then I found out that I was very wrong to think that way. In fact, lots need more attention than regular hair. My friend Ivy burst my bubble when I went to her for tips on maintenance of locs. Her mane is way past the maturity stage and she has only a thousand stories and experiences she’s had because of being loc’d.
Guys, meet Ivy. Ivy, meet the guys.
“My locs have taught me patience, endurance and humility. Turns out when you have locs, people think you are friendly. Especially those who have locs too. It could be touts or just random guys. Juu when I walk past these type of guys, they say, “aaaah mras niaje? Gota gota !” And I bump their fists. When I do so, they feel so honoured and seen. I even at times feel like a member of a very loyal group.
However, these same locs have made me look like a crook, more so because of two incidences. This one time, I had gone to Think Twice( a thrift shop whose name has nothing to do with the story). I was at the blankets section and some old Indian lady was right in front of me. I wanted to get something that was closer to her. So as I stretched to get it, she looked at me, shock written all over her face. I thought to myself that it was probably because she had not known I was behind her .
A few minutes after that, we both coincidentally went to the pillowcase section. I noticed how she took her bag from her shoulder and held it tight against her bosom. She then walked away from that floor. Then it hit me that perhaps she thought I was following her. Well, in her defence, my mom tells me I look like a mungiki.
The second incident was when I was headed to my house from school after class was over. A neighbour of mine, a peddler, was new in that neighbourhood of ours. So I didn’t know him that well. As I opened the gate, a girl approached me and asked, “Unauza?”
Of course, I didn’t get what she was talking about. So I asked what she was talking about. She came closer then whispered, “Ganja”. It finally clicked that perhaps the new neighbour sold some. I decided to go with the flow and failed to tell her that I wasn’t a peddler nor affiliated to any.
Instead, I asked , “Kwani hujapata kevo kwa keja?”
“Hapana. Sikumpata. Lakini uko nayo sahi? Si turudi kwa nyumba uniuzie hata kamoja?”
With a straight face I told her, “Aaaah.. Leo ata si unaona ndio natoka class. Sina any sahi but kuja kesho, nitakuwa na stash.”
When I told her that, she left happy. The next day was a Sunday and I went to church then, later on, I ran some errands in town. I can’t tell if she came back or not.
Anyway, dreadlocks need lots of care if you want them to always look good. Did you know? What you eat affects your locs.
If you wish to dye your hair, always use shampoo dye. The least harmful colour is black. Colours like blond, blue, red, neon need great care when applying. It should not stay for long before it’s washed off because of sulphates. Otherwise, it will take up all the essential oils found in the hair and that will leave your hair vulnerable to breakage. (No, maintaining locs requires no degree in biochemistry. )
Apply oil that is in liquid form at room temperature. Avoid shea butter, nice and lovely hair food or coconut oil.
Njugu, peanut butter and herbs like rosemary, ginger and mwarubaini also help keep your locs very healthy. But don’t beat yourself up if the herbs are expensive; water and njugu work perfectly too.
When moisturising or washing your locs, massage the scalp slowly and thoroughly. Happy scalp, happy locs, happy you.
Avoid stress. It kinda stunts loc growth. And have I said take lots of water? Taking water prevents the locs from drying up even when you forget to moisturise.”
PS: I loved chemistry with all my heart soul and mind back in high school. Which means I would emerge as the best in the subject. Then at some point in form three, Ivy began giving me a run for my money. And that, ladies and gentlemen is how she and I became friends. Well, I always say keep your friends close and your Ivys closer.