It’s my fault, really. I should have known with a name like Ebeneza, the services in this Barber Shop will be mediocre. I know… I know… It’s a Biblical name that shows how the business is grounded and aligned to the word of the Lord, but no serious trade names themselves Ebeneza, unless they offer Repentance and Healing services, which I wasn’t looking for at that time. When the barber was done with me and suddenly my neck looked longer and the remaining patch of hair on my head resembled that of a Kulukulu (Bata Mzinga), I knew I was fucked. I watched him shift his weight to his right leg and tilt his head in a manner suggesting he was proud of what he had done.
“Boss, I was hoping to walk out of this place looking sharper and dapper. Now I just look like a Kulukulu that’s hit menopause.”
“No, you excuse me. What the fuck have you done to my hair?”
“It looks nice, what are you talking about?”
I was looking at him in the mirror but now I had to turn to face him. He is a short, muscled man, wearing grey sweatpants hauled to the knees, a floral jacket and a beenie. He is also wearing flipflops and my first impression of him was that he tried to be a gym instructor but all his clients ended up looking like Johnny Bravo and so he was fired.
“It looks nice? You think with this hairstyle a girl would agree to marry me? What kind of dreams do you think I will have at night?”
“I can rectify where you feel needs to be rectified.”
I sighed. When I sat down on his chair and he wrapped that silky cloth around my neck, I had, slowly, explained how I wanted my haircut. He listened keenly and though that was no evidence that he was paying attention, I chose to trust him. Different barbers work in different methods. Some work like painters, the kind that paint upside down and you can only make sense of what they are drawing when they flip the painting and your jaws drop. I thought this one worked like such a painter. That after he is done I would go home and my wife would ask me to marry her again. That my daughter Natasha will take a selfie with me and show it to her friends because kids can’t lie. In the eyes of a child, you are either cute or you are not. They have no in-betweens. And they have no reason to lie.
Anyway, you can imagine my shock when he announced that he was done. I thought he was joking, so I smiled and shifted on the chair, waiting for him to continue with his masterpiece, but he was actually done. And proud.
“The only way you can help me is to perform hair transplant, can you do that?”
He shook his head.
“I didn’t think so.”
I refuse to let him touch my head and I silently curse Edu. Edu has been my barber for more than a year now. I found him after months of experimenting with different barbers. He did exactly what I asked him to do and from there on it was clear I was going to stay loyal to him. And I did. Until I walked into that barbershop on Sunday only to be told he quit.
“Does anyone here knows where he went?”
“He didn’t say.”
I called him but his phone was off. On my way to the digs, I saw this barber shop aptly named Ebeneza. I thought the name was a joke—and so are their services—but it looked swanky. Glass doors and all. I imagined no one works hard to put up such a showy barbershop only to employ dimwits. And since I wasn’t sure when Edu would switch on his phone, or whether he had changed careers and was now into Mani-Pedi, I decided to risk it and try out this new barbershop.
And I paid heavily for it.
The lady who washed my hair was nice though. Unlike the typical girl in your typical barbershop who has boobs so massive, you would be asked to book them their own seat if you were travelling via easy coach, this one was petite. But not that petite, you get? Haha. As in she had a lean body, and you could tell that she was proud of her hips with the way she kept holding them. She welcomed me with a smile and said, “Tell me if the water temperature is okay, okay?” and poured some water on my head.
“Too cold,” I said, “But I like it.”
“No, let me warm it.”
“No, really, I like it cold.”
She started washing my head, her gentle palms and fingers working in harmony. I closed my eyes but made sure not to smile because I didn’t want it to appear as though I was deriving too much pleasure from this than it was normal.
“Are we scrubbing?” she asked.
“Is it not enough that your barber here has messed up my hair, now you want to scrab and mess my face too? It’s like you guys want me to leave here with nothing but inner beauty”
“Haha. Scrubbing will leave your face looking and feeling smooth.”
“Like your voice?”
She laughed because her voice was hoarse, thanks to a terrible cold that made her eyes tear up. She, unlike the barber whom I was avoiding eye contact with, did her job.
Later on, Edu called and apologised for missing my call. He laughed when I told him about the terrible haircut. “Don’t worry, your next haircut will be by me and on me. Nowadays I am in town.”
“Perfect,” I said.
When the person who breathes the same air as me asked, “Why are you guys loyal to your barbers yet you can’t be loyal to your women?” I left God to answer that question because I was not ready for this war. Some wars, only God can fight for you—Exodus 14:14.