Yesterday was my very first time in Peckham and I hope my last as well. My friend had taken me there to braid my hair and it was one hell of an experience. Now for those of you who know me I am the Queen of paranoia. Oh heavens no, I am one hell of a paranoid person so be in for a treat as I share my experience.
On getting to peckham, my friend was a few minutes late so I waited by the station for her. Then I noticed people staring at me and I got scared. I know I was indecent so what was it? It was then my friend said I looked like an outsider, now I wasn't even dressed fancy or what not, but I pretty sure I looked fear stricken. Bear in mind I aint no posh girl either. We then set out to get my hair extension and go to the salon, I had to ignore the call of desperate hairdressers and the stares being cast on me. Anyways we got to the salon and just before I walked in, this lady came out pulling a blue and white Ghana must go and said "I have jollof rice oh, even white rice plus yam porridge" as I politely decline her offer I'm thinking "Dear Lord, what has Irene gotten me into?" The salon has about nine hairdressers and one man who disturbingly sounds like a woman with a number of children running about and shouting at the top of their voices.
Not even quarter way into my hair, a fight broke out in the salon against two competing rivals and they take it out to the streets; ghetto style. And trust Naija women now when the lady returned back into the salon, they were still trying to add fuel to the fight. But then the lady doing my hair tries to calm everyone down by quoting the scripture and everyone calms down. I am well impressed by this. Before I could say Jack Robinson though, she turns to her fellow colleague and says "you fuck up sha, why you no follow them outside get more gist for us na?" And I'm sitting there thinking wasn't she just playing pastor like some good 2 seconds ago and now she's the devil's advocate?
The fight seems to have opened up the floor for Aproko Committee meeting because from there on it was gossip all through. The ladies that would come in and laugh with the hairdressers would later turn into the topic of discussion as they depart. Now I'm scared of what would be said about me when I leave. Thinking all was calm, my heart returns to normal beating race, but of course I had to get all the experience in one day. Some minutes later another fight breaks out in the salon opposite me. And then over the voices of the women yelling is the sound of an ambulance siren. Ghen! Ghen! now my heart is pounding against my chest, it could probably make you a decent pounded yam. Aproko committee gets to work and send one of the little children in the store to see what is happening. The little girl later revealed as Ejiro, happily reports back with news that some rival hairdresser named Esther had broken her arm. And the hairdressers start yammering about fighting and how they would go about it if they were involved. Then someone mentions pouring acid and in my head all I'm thinking is " God please let rapture take place now and take me with it".
Well rapture doesn't happen and I have to deal with the chaotic bunch of people in the salon. From the girl who was fighting with her hairdresser because she didn't like her hair and was being charged more than she bargained for, to the baby crying and screaming his lungs out to get his mothers attention, who by the way was ignorant of his attention seeking mission and was deeply concentrated on her customers hair to the man with the feminine voice, whom I'm pretty sure is gay, that was trying to bargain a hair cut price with some dude that stirred fear in my heart. Finally after some good 3 hours, my hair is finally done and I just want to zoom out of there; away from the noise and drama. As I walk out of the salon, I notice a sign that says "we sell Brazilian, Peruvian, Mongolian, Indian hair here" Mongolian too?! At this rate all races would be bald for Nigerian girls to look pretty.
It was one experience that left me with a pounding headache and an imprinted memory in my heart. So when people have been complimenting me on my hair, in my head I'm like "you damn right better like it, I went through hell for this".