When I was young, my father brought his friend home. He was a constructor, a white man and he gave my mother some exotic plant wrapped in newspaper as a gift. Later, my mother planted it and it blossomed into pretty flowers I later came to know as, Roses. I remember the garden being full of it. They were so beautiful but their thorns were frightening. Once, it pinched Mother and she bled. Visitors came and admired Mother's garden. Friends talked about how lucky we were to have them. But when I thought about the thorns, I thought otherwise. So, a rose strewn path became a symbol to me. The path you took to grow and hope to impress people, even though you bleed for it.
Her learning in Màmá Àríkẹ́'s place began quick. Thanks to Aunty Simi's kindness, Seyi bought her practice doll and enrolled in the salon.
Making hair wasn't easy. At least, not quite as easy as it seems. Sometimes, one would bend over a customer's hair for four hours straight. And Màmá Àríkẹ́had a lot of customers. Many came directly to her shop but most booked time on the phone. Asides from Seyi, Màmá Àríkẹ́had two other apprentices. Both paid thirty thousand naira each. But, from Seyi, she took nothing. Frequently, Màámi would send yields from her garden to Màmá Àríkẹ́whenever Seyi went to work.
Màmá Àríkẹ́made wigs, but, her style was old fashioned. Seyi thought that wigs would be a good start.
After all, most students preferred that. So, Seyi had to find where she could learn that from. A fellow apprentice, Bolutife however, knew how to make more modern ones, so, Seyi made friends quickly with her. The salon was great. And although sometimes, it got tiring, their boss was considerate. Bolu was an interesting person. Most times, they talked and laughed and made jest of each other's work. The other girl, Hannah was more introverted.
Seyi was learning steadily. She didn't go to school now, she had taken a year's absence so, she had a year to learn. She wasn't a very fast learner, in fact, the others were most times ahead of her but, she was dedicated. Sometimes, customers gave them tips. They usually kept it in the shop to save so that they could share later. Slowly, Seyi began to learn, and steadily, she began to grow. She had a wish, and most times, she dreamt about better days ahead. Days when she would start her own hair business and grow a brand, days that she would have gathered enough funds and returned to school, days when she grew big and Màámi wouldn't have to sweat a lot, of Bolu and Peju and Timi, All in their respective schools.
She dreamt of days when their lives will have some seasoning, something off than bland. She loved to dream these, and sometimes, when she dreamt, she feared to return and find out that it isn't true. She saw a blooming garden ahead of her. But could she manage to struggle past the thorns?
It was still very early when Seyi left the house. She had a job now. She worked part-time in a drinks store as a salesgirl. Her duty usually fell mid-evening until nighttime. The salon opened at seven am and closed at three pm but Seyi usually left around two pm to attend to her other chores.
The house was still. Even the dogs around didn't bark when the gate creaked open loudly. Maybe they knew that she was the one. It was a bit over daybreak but not so bright. Yet, she was on her way. As she was, every morning. Normally, she walked first to Màmá Àríkẹ́'s house then, to the shop. But since
Màmá Àríkẹ́wasn't around that morning, she moved directly to the salon.
Two ladies were at the shop already by the time she arrived, and so was Màmá Àríkẹ́. Sometimes, they had early customers like this.
Seyi watched as Mama Àríkẹ́deftly weaved tiny braids in large ones. She perched on a stool that she had been leaning on for the three long hours they took in making the hair. It was long and a lot, but Màmá
Àrikẹ́was good, Seyi had to admit, and Seyi was learning a lot. Customers often came to her place. Some would stay for hours, sitted with tilted heads. They talked a lot to while away time. Seyi learnt, that this was the way those in the trade kept themselves sane. Imagine how uncomfortable hours of silence would be.
Making the ladies' hair took so much time. But the ladies talked a lot. About people themselves and Màmá Àríke knew, and some, fictional tales with gossips sure to be filled with lies. But there was something her grandmother taught her siblings and themselves when she was young...
To listen where people talk.
Gossip flowed like running taps in the salon. People carried all sorts of stories, true and untrue. Dried and seasoned with salt, grounded and baked. As much as gossip flowed, relevant news sometimes got entangled in discussions.
"Didn't you hear, she got a bursary. That's why."
"Uncultured girl! Does the university still offer bursaries ni?"
"Yes, Now. My cousin's coursemate just got one in fact. I heard it's thirty k or something.
Out from garbage, pick what's relevant to you. Her father had said that. It's for something.
So, Seyi spoke up.
"Can I apply for it?"
Ep7: Rose strewn path 2
To be continued