“I want to trim my hair na sitaki ubahatishe”
“Huku hakuna kubahatisha. Ni executive”
I smiled a little and made my way to where he was standing. Mimi naitwa Jim Murimi. I wasn’t sure why he told me both of his names so I nodded and asked him the price of this Instagram-changing algorithm. He pointed to an A4 sized paper stuck on the wall.
Dye with Subaru- 300
I stopped there and began looking around. The client on the next chair was dying his hair or should I say his scalp. It looked somehow like eye pencil mapped out a landscape view of his head or he is up next for surgery.
“Aki usibahatishe kwa sababu utaniglue strand by strand back”
His hair was shaven like one of those people from the 70s. Very James Bond meets Uhuru Kenyatta. He stood slightly taller than me and was bright as Blueband .His teeth were many, like God decided to make him human the last minute. The cut on his beard gave me assurance. You know a clean man from his beard; you also know his attention to detail. Kupe!
I sat on his chair, knowing that he will permanently be ‘my guy’. He flicked his Justin Bieber cover and placed it on me, covering my whole outfit and added a strap on my neck to secure the bag. Barbers are definitely more extra than salonists.
“Wewe unaitwa nani?”
I pretended not to hear and started typing on my phone. He combed my hair and looked at it from all angles. He patted it then looked at it again from the back and came back to the front.
“Mwenye alikukata alikata sana hapa” he said while pointing to an area of my scalp my previous stylist denatured with chemical.
“Unataka kunyoa aje?”
“He! Sawa sawa lakini ona ile picha pale”.
He points to a picture on a billboard across the parking lot. I agree and he starts combing my hair again. The buzzing sound of a shaver somehow reminds me of the tattoo parlor. The type of sound that makes you vulnerable; alarms you that death is close and one wrong move, your dignity and self confidence hits the floor.
I was so sensitive that I would sink in the seat or move forward gradually and he would pull me back to lie on the chair’s back.
The client with a full dye experience was directed to go get washed. I didn’t understand what was being washed so I watched his whole mass move in slow motion to the chair he was pointed to. One of the ladies was trying to get the water heated when Mutuma said that the man shouldn’t sit there.
Tsumo jerked up with his hand holding on to his towel.
“What are you saying?”
The tsumo wrestler had ten folds all over his face; he was one of those men with more facial hair than actual hair on the head- probably residing hairline made him shave it all. He looked at me while he beat his chest, I was probably sneering at his demented face.
“Kijana!Kijana! si umeniambia nikae hapa nioshwe ama umesema nini?”
The barber who had shaven/ dyed him was sitting outside but had a clear view of everyone in the shop.
“Eeh Lilian muoshe”
“Lilian kama huwezi niosha naweza kujiosha nkt!”Leta hiyo maji!
The tsumo wrestler struggled to wash himself and finally told Lilian to take over. He complained that the barbers wamemzoea and he won’t be coming back due to their indecency and shoddy services. The shop had everything apart from a camera crew.
I was finally done with and Mutuma told me that I should use a relaxer to achieve that specified look. I agreed. It then happened that there wasn’t any relaxer available and Jackie had to go to get one form the next shop.
She went for so long that the Tsumo wrestler got agitated. Jackie is responsible for massaging and Lilian only deals with washing hairless and hairfull heads.
“Hata sitaki hiyo massage,useless!”
He remarked when Lillian reached out for the massaging oil. He then shifted back to the barber’s chair and the other barber applied an ointment to his head. He got up again and sat on the chair next to the sink.
Jackie came running with the relaxer and Mutuma took over doing the application so precisely I got bored. Short hair should be less work.
I went and sat next to the tsumo wrestler and got Jackie to wash my hair over and over again until the chemical was rid off. She was stern looking but had a friendly personality. Those people who get your soul shook but you end up being best friends.
A vendor walks in…..
“Nauza Dolphin Massage pia tummy trimmer” he says looking at Jackie.
She ignores first and lets a weak ‘eeeh’ as if to tell him not to day or not ever. Mutuma assures him that he needs one but will not buy one that day. He will take his number and contact him at a later date. He removed his tummy trimmer from his bag and said it only cost 1500 shillings, not more but less can be discussed.
“Sisi hatuna tumbo kubwa” Mutuma says laughing.
“Labda wewe, sisi wengine”… Jackie responded.
I asked him for the prototype and examined it, I took out my phone to take a picture but before I hit the camera, the tsumo wrestler had already caught on the frenzy and was now interested in our discussion.
I swung the product to the furthest end and took several pictures for no reason, claiming that the previous ones were not clear. I could feel him getting agitated and I smiled once more. Instead of passing it to him I returned the product to the vendor who passed it to the tsumo wrestler. A game.
The vendor was in the middle of answering my questions when the tsumo eclipsed him and started making his own inquisitions. He took the dolphin massager and the tummy trimmer and scrutinized them so incessantly; you would think it was food. He then said he’ll buy both. And he did!
He then claimed that he can’t carry the newly acquired products to his car.
“Sasa untataka nibebee aje? I can’t carry these na mikono”
The last bit sold him out, I knew I have met his people before. A long way from Kesses I thought. His trouser had creased and seemed to have gone too deep into his crack. An awful sight. A look all affluent and wealthy men have whenever they sit for too long or two seconds depending on how far up they are on the food chain.
The vendor was still feeding me with information and this caused the tsumo wrestler to frown upon me. We had a straight 30 seconds staring contest and Lord knows how bad I wanted him to be rude so I could deflate his ego. Stalemate!
He walked off and commanded the vendor to follow him. The vendor was no longer enthusiastic but he did as he was asked. He was trying to close the zip of his bag and the tsumo jerked again and said he’ll come back for his things at his own time. The audacity!
When he left, all the barbers and beauticians shouted in joy. They complained about his irksome behavior and said that he was very entitled. Apparently when he walked in he had ordered Mutuma to switch off the TV.
That was when I knew that there was a Smart TV. He alleged that Mutuma was shaving him while watching Inooro. He also said it was too loud and he didn’t wasn’t to disrupt his thinking. I wondered why he had come to the barber with no hair but I didn’t ask.
“He is very rude na arrogant for no good reason!”
I had no problem dishing out on someone who looked like NYS money. The moment I finished that statement, everyone poured out their feelings. They all hated him but didn’t reserve the right of admission for some strange reason.
I paid my dues and left my number, apparently they take new clientele’s number, I gave them my ex’s instead and left.