Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A Million Tiny Braids

It is Saturday evening. I am lying on my bed and can hear the loud, highly amplified music and singing from down the road. As there are three funerals in Wegbe this weekend, the village is very busy and loud all the time, even at 1:30am, when I am trying to sleep. And at 1:30am last night, one of the funeral guests decided it would be a good idea to use a whistle to accompany the singing. Lovely, right?

There is a large tent set up in our compound for one of the funerals. Luckily, the main activities are not taking place in our compound or else it would probably be impossible to sleep at all. However, it means that there are a lot of people here. And it means that the village of Wegbe has become a sea of red and black.

Earlier this week, in preparation for the funeral, one of the women in my compound decided to purchase a goat. She bought the goat on Monday and kept it tied up all week, until yesterday. After dealing with the goat’s extremely loud and obnoxious cries for a few days, I finally decided to ask why the goat was tied up. As I do not recognize the goats that belong to the families in this compound, I did not realize that this was a different goat, one that had been purchased from the market. And the reason it was purchased from the market, of course, was so that it could be slaughtered.

Luckily, I happened to take a little walk yesterday late in the afternoon with some of my kids in the village. By the time I returned, the goat was dead and lying with its legs up on a table in the compound. I couldn’t watch as the two men skinned the goat and then proceeded to cut it up. However, I couldn’t help but see parts of the process as I went about what I was doing, which included occasionally walking across the compound. And as the process of getting the goat meat took awhile, it would have been highly unlikely that I would have totally been able to avoid witnessing parts of it. Although I am a vegetarian and refused to eat any of the meat, I do have to admit that I am happy that I no longer have to deal with the goat’s loud, obnoxious cries at all hours of the day and night.

On Thursday afternoon, after a long morning at the orphanage, I decided to go into town with Roland and get my hair done. I had asked Essie, the woman who cooks and cleans for me if it would hurt and she assured me it wouldn’t hurt that much. I didn’t know how to take this answer as it was coming from someone who picks up burning coals with her bare hands and scrubs clothing until her hands are raw – things that I cannot do.

As Roland and I arrived at the beauty salon in Hohoe, I started to get a bit nervous. Alex was out of town so it was going to be a surprise for him, something he had told me a few weeks earlier that he wanted me to do for a family celebration that would be happening this weekend. I showed the girl which style I wanted – small braids and she went to find some fake hair. I was not very excited for the fake hair part. It would add a lot of weight to my head and it kinda grossed me out at first.

Two women began working on my hair and I was impressed. They did the first few braids and they did not hurt at all. I was glad as I was basically sitting in the middle of this salon, in which about 6 other women were getting their hair done as well. I relaxed and was happy now that I realized that I would not be in pain. Unfortunately this quickly changed.

The braids started getting tighter and tighter and the women started pulling so hard on my head. I was in so much pain it was pretty ridiculous. My scalp was so sore. There were five women working on my hair and I was pulling away, trying to ease the pain as they yanked my hair. About two hours into the torture, I made the women stop and take a break. I needed a break and my head needed a break. And I was hoping that by allowing the women to stop working for a few minutes, they would come back and not yank my hair so hard. I returned to the chair and the yanking resumed just as hard, if not harder than before. I somehow dealt with two more hours of this before they finally finished. I regretted my decision to get my hair done but was not going to stop midway through the process. I think that I managed to thoroughly amuse the other women working and the other customers in the salon but I did not care because I was just so happy that they were done. I gave the women a nice tip as I felt bad that I was such a difficult customer. I think they were probably just as happy to get me out of the salon as I was to leave.

I returned home and was complimented by everyone on my hair. I still wasn’t sure at this point if I actually liked it or not. It was long, black, and heavy and my head still ached. I took a pain reliever in an attempt to relieve the pain and went to bed. This was not as easy as it sounds because every way I attempted to lye caused pain to my head. Even sleeping on my stomach, although it meant that I would not be lying on my hair was painful. I woke up many times throughout the night but luckily by the next morning, most of the pain was gone.

Alex returned from his trip the following evening and was impressed by the fact that I actually went out and got my hair done. Like everyone else, he loved it. I am getting more and more used to it as time goes on but it is somewhat annoying. I decided that this is going to be both the first and last time that I get my hair done. I can’t wait til we have to remove all the braids from my hair. That will be fun!

No comments: