I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom. – Umberto Eco.
Your father is not a fan of changing barbers. When I find the one that treats my hair right, I stick with him.
I wish this was a story about how I cheated on my barber and regretted it. No, it’s not that.
Here is the story.
For days now, I’ve been forming beard gang, walking around with my scruffy beards and pretending I love it. Actually, it wasn’t bad. I looked like a modern day Genghis Khan. I don’t know why I assumed I looked like him; he was Asian, a military dictator and a genocidal ruler. Maybe that’s why I thought I looked like him; my beards were already on a genocidal path. Do you know who Genghis Khan is? No? Google him. That’s why I bought you the tab – and yes, some websites are off limit.
Last weekend, I had to go see some customers and since it was the weekend, I was casual enough – jeans and T-shirt, and nice slip-on to match. The first customer I walked into his shop immediately asked why I looked unshaven. He wanted to know if the recession had gotten that bad, that I couldn’t afford to go get a clean shave. I laughed it off and assured him I’d do that this weekend.
The second customer didn’t ask about it until I made the mistake of scratching my beards, trying to get the many lice and ticks that I was almost certain had taken residence in it to try and behave. I had forgotten that the best way to scratch is to gently place one finger on the spot, rub it back and forth, and then, with the whole palm, tap it gently. Two to three times will do the trick. Your mother has been doing this for centuries and enjoys her wigs longer than desired. I assured the second customer I’d shave to stop the itching.
The same thing happened with the third and the fourth. I also assured them both that my scruffy look will not follow me to church the next day.
Then I got to Maitama. Do you know where that is? No? Good. It’s a bad, bad place. Though, if by the time you’re reading this, we live in Maitama, fear not.
Ehen, back to the barber story…
I felt it was better to find a good barbershop in the neighbourhood. I was tired and pretty sure I would go straight home once I returned to our area. So, a Maitama barbershop it was then. I found one and from the moment I got in, I knew I was in a Venus fly trap. The interior was decorated to the nines – three televisions and four different comfortable chairs which excludes the couches in a corner. I was in hair heaven.
A barber ushered me to the unoccupied chair and after asking for the style I preferred, he quickly went to work. I was jejely enjoying the haircut when I heard what I felt had to be a joke.
“Our car will be missing us.”
My eyes widened. Clearly I’d heard wrong. I turned to my left to see the cute boy, maybe between the ages of 5-8years, whose father was by his side, lovingly holding his hand, as he was having his hair cut.
“Our car will miss us.”
There it was again. He said our car, not our cat. How does a car miss you? It’s inanimate, it lacks feelings.
“Yes son, our car will miss us, but it knows we are gone for a little while. It’s outside waiting for us, we’ll soon be through.”
OK, now the dad’s just crazy, feeding this overgrown baby with insane stories. And it seemed he was overfed, for his next sentence was, “Let’s do quick so that we’ll go to our car, I like it inside.”
Now I’m thinking how this illicit relationship could have been allowed to get this far. Didn’t the dad see there was no future here? How would the car feel when the boy dumps him for a better looking model? I was already seeing heartbreak in their future.
The boy was through and it was time for the father to have a quick shave. But the boy wasn’t having that. He started complaining, kept wanting to go outside. At this stage, the father was getting very irritated. You know, the way I get when you prefer to play with your food instead of eating it? Yes, that kind of irritated. If the man was not dark-skinned, I could have sworn he was turning red, the vein on his forehead was ready to burst.
The cute little son kept asking to go outside, in that annoying way you kids keep asking for that-which-you-should-not-ask-for over and over again. When the father had had enough, he turned to his adorable son. He called his native name – I can’t remember what it was – and then proceeded to say something in their local dialect. The transformation was immediate. The annoying cute little son became the quiet, sit-at-a-corner cute little son. It was amazing. It was glorious. I had learnt a way to shut you up in public – a stern stare and a subtle threat in our local dialect.
The father was soon through with his shave. He stood up, called his son ‘Raphael’ and asked for them to leave. Yes, the boy with the convenient native name is also named Raphael. The cute little son took his father’s outstretched hand and they proceeded to leave. Just as they stepped out the door, the father looked at his son and said, “See? Our car is waiting for us. Now let’s go have ice-cream.”
I was not able to see the car that was missing the boy so much, but I was able to witness the conflict most fathers have in trying to raise headstrong boys. That divide from when we want to shower our kids with gifts, love and all things nice, and when we want to spank their bottoms with a really beautiful leather belt.
But don’t worry, son. Daddy doesn’t keep a brown leather belt. I keep a black one.
Written by Anyibaba