5th October 2013. I had made up my mind. I was going to weave my hair and deal with the consequences later. I love my hair but had been mistreating it by retouching it all the time and rarely plaiting it. I hate plaiting it. The long hours seated in a salon full of gossip. The pulling and straining of my precious head skin. The itch afterwards. The dandruff. The strands coming off after a week. The feeling that I wasted time and money in the first place.

Then of course there are those moments when it comes out the complete opposite of what you thought you’d look like. There’s nothing like wasting an entire day at the salon only to look yourself in the mirror and hate yourself. A weave takes a shorter time to get done. Rationalization one.

Anyway, I woke up and headed to my favourite salon in Kikuyu. Between home and the town, an evasive Metrotrans bus conductor disappeared with my Ksh 30 change. I was determined to push through with my goal so that did not get to me.

Only one lady touches my head most days. This decision was made the day I had my hair retouched by an amateur. What followed next was heart-breaking. I would comb my hair and it would fall off. The horror! In the end, I was left with a patch of hairlessness in the middle of my head. Thankfully, since I have loads of hair, I could comb the rest over that patch to cover it up. Thus the only people who noticed were those who touched my head. I think. This is why I needed to hide my hair for a while. Rationalization two.

My favourite hairdresser happened to be very heavy with child this Saturday. Interesting development. I did not think it had been that long since I was at this joint. I announced my intentions and told her I had finally heeded her call to weave my mane. (Okay, it is no longer a mane now. Poor weak hair.) She asked me what kind of weave I wanted. I told her (very confidently) that I wanted short flat iron. I had recently learnt of it from twitter advice and Google. She thought that a longer weave would make more sense but I was quick to remind her that wearing a short one was already hard enough.

I sat down and had my hair washed. Meanwhile I was still thinking it was not too late to change my mind. Soon enough, the synthetic hair addition was brought to me, in that Darling wrapper. I became a little sad.

I was the ultimate anti-weave crusader in the house. Mum stopped wearing weaves ages ago after I hated on her dos continually. She now does her hair short. Very elegant. I was also the one who talked our house help into not weaving hers during her wedding in June. Yet here I was, waiting for my hairdresser to cut open the packaging and start sewing threads and fibre onto my head.

The baby inside my hairdresser decided it was time they felt nauseated. So she walked out for a bit and some other lady took over my head. For you who does not know how weaves are done (my dear men), you need cornrows under there to sew the thread into. The process ensued. Wincing every now and then, I thought that I would actually look perfect if I just walked out of the salon in just the cornrows. I mean, why not? I already look like a primary school kid.

Then I remembered that I needed to start looking mature. Third rationalization. This lady, with a sufficient amount of weaving on her head, completed her task and handed me back to the expectant hairdresser. The sewing began. Every time she picked up a piece of the weave to sew onto the cornrows, I died a little. First from the pain from the yanking. Second from what I was consciously doing to myself. I was going back on a principle. I never do that. Oh well, let’s see how it turns out.

After an hour of my hairdresser juggling between sewing the strands onto my head, finding the perfect standing position that would not strain her baby, changing into more comfortable shoes and sipping an Afia every now and then to get rid of her nausea, I was done.

I looked at myself in the mirror. I had ensured they left a little bit of hair at the front so that no one would see where the weave started. As if that would make it less of a weave. Hairdresser lifted a mirror behind me. Yep, it looked exactly how I thought it looked. Like a weave.“Iko sawa,” I declared. Yeah right.

“Nilikuwa nadhani hutaipenda,” she quipped. Perfect. That makes me feel so much better.

I was pretty much confused after this. I could not even calculate how much change she owed me and neither could she. I am guessing the baby in her and the weave on me had made us complete blondes. So we calculated for about 10 minutes. Phone calculators came in handy eventually, amidst the banter of the other women in the room.

I walked out. I could not look people in the eye all the way to the capital. I needed to get my busted Samsung Galaxy Pocket back to the Safaricom Shop since it was still under warranty. But that is a story for another day. I eventually came back home, anxious to hear what people would say.

First person I met was my baby sister.

“Wow, beautiful!” she exclaimed.

Of course she was going to say that, she’s only seven. On to the next person.

Haiya, kai wekira mutwe wothe?” our help joined in. “No nimagwikira wega.” (Haiya, you have weaved the entire head? But they have done it well.)

So far, so good, I thought. That was until my mum and dad walked in.

Ngai! Uguo niguo weciria?” mum made her thoughts known. (Lord! Is that what you’ve decided?)

Kai wekira gakofia?” dad quipped. (Are you wearing a hat?)

Sigh. This is about me, right? Not them. Be strong!

To cut the long story short, I lived through the first week. The strain of the tightly sewn in weave left and was succeeded by the itch. An itch you cannot do anything about because there is no space to squeeze your finger into to relieve it. You can only hit the weave gently and hope that the effect is transmitted through the layers into your head. I also learnt that weaves are maintained by applying Babycare petroleum jelly on them. Apparently every woman I asked knew that. Who comes up with these things? You have got to love Kenyan women!

13th October 2013. I got myself braid spray. I thought it would make the experience a bit more bearable. Zero effect. This was the weekend it dawned on my brother that I was actually in a weave. I have my doubts that he had not noted before. He was clearly making a point. My colleague at work added salt to injury by giving me a story about how weaves can carry worms that can eat into your skin. Jesus Christ!

19th October 2013. I had had enough. It was going down! And down it went. It was a beautiful feeling getting rid of it. Mum protested. I had wasted money. Apparently a good weave should give you two months of service. Not on this head it won’t.

I weaved. I will never weave again. I will find another way to keep my hair healthy. If it fails, I am going for a pixie cut. That do is hotness redefined if done by a professional. I will wait and research.

By the way, this decision had nothing to do with men’s distaste for weaves. However, I have always been on their side on this one. Weaves suck. I have learnt my lesson.

Written by Shiku Ngigi

Mum and dad’s daughter. Shouting big sister. Learning to listen. Jesus freak. Recovering tomboy. Mouse potato. Bass addict. Waking up the writer in her.

    3 Comments

  1. asingwa August 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm Reply

    Hahahaha. I weaved once, Babe Cut. It looked just like my hair, so I was told. Got tired of it by week 2. Itched all the way to week 4, got it out and said ‘never again.’ Thing with most ‘never agains’ is they are not true. A year later, after being bored by all the normal styles (braids and corn rows) I decided, why not. Babe Cut once more. This time it was, “Haiya. Umeweka weave? But it looks nice.” I persevered to week 3. I am now in the natural hair band wagon.

    • Shiku Ngigi August 5, 2014 at 1:09 pm Reply

      Lol. Mine is a true ‘never again’. You can take that to the bank. I am now in the natural hair bandwagon simply because I itch all through the period my hair is braided and whatnot. Plus my hair weakened and all after chemicals. Now I am just there waiting for a sign to cut it. 😀

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