Shade stirred awake slowly, then turned over in bed to look at her husband who was sleeping fitfully beside her. It was a Saturday morning, and there was nowhere to rush off to which made a nice change from her busy routine. She touched his forehead with her fingers, and it felt hot, like he was running a temperature. His injured hand was lying on the bedcover , and she immediately noticed that the swelling had disappeared and the cut had closed, but there seemed to be a black line running across it. She shuddered as she remembered the events of the previous night, and after the strange dream she had had, she knew that something was definitely amiss. In the dream, she had been in a forest clearing standing between a stunning albeit bald-headed woman and Deinde. Surprisingly though, rather than being his usual swaggering self, Deinde had seemed to be cowering behind Shade, while the woman had repeatedly asked him a question which he could or would not answer. Shade had sensed the woman’s frustration at not being able to reach Deinde, but there seemed to be an invisible force around Shade that kept her at bay, even though the three of them could all see each other clearly. In the end the woman had raised up her right hand, rubbed it across her head, pointed at him, and had disappeared.
After the power cut last night, Shade had expected the generators to come on, but the houseboy had come to report that neither one was working, even though they were both full of diesel. She had used the light of a torch to locate the now-empty bottle of olive oil that had been prayed over in her church, and sticking her little finger into it, had managed to get the last few drops out. Muttering a prayer, she had rubbed her finger over the cut in her husband’s hand, whereupon a smell like singed hair had filled the air. Her action appeared to have jolted him out of his somnambulant state, and he had thanked her profusely as she wrapped a clean bandage around his right hand.
Determined to get to the bottom of things, she reached for his shoulder, and shook him awake.
Deidre arrived at Ayo’s Hair Palace in a jovial mood, and not even the news that Ayo had been called away unexpectedly could do anything to take her joy away. On being told K-Row had been assigned to do her hair, she settled back in her seat and sipped on a bottle of ice-cold Krest Bitter Lemon as she watched him finishing up another client’s hairdo. K-Row was short and stocky, but he was as graceful as a dancer as he flitted around his client, snipping away with his scissors until he was satisfied with his handiwork. She knew he was skilled, but there was something about him she had never liked, she just couldn’t put her finger on it. He was rumored to have lived in England for a few years before his immigration status or lack of it was discovered, which had led to his subsequent deportation. He was skilled in doing weave-ons, and plaits or cornrows as they were referred to in London, hence his nickname. His client stood up and pressed a wad of Naira notes into his hand in appreciation, before going to the lobby to pay the cashier. He tidied his station before coming over to her to say he was ready to do her hair. ‘You want to fix?’ he asked as she reached into her Coach tote and pulled out the hair. There was a collective gasp in the salon as he held up the Brazilian wefts, and various voices rang out as stylists and clients alike rained compliments on the beauty and quality of the hair. His dark eyes gleamed as he looked at the hair, and he whispered ‘irun Orisha’ as he touched one of the many strange medallions he wore around his neck. A couple of the stylists wandered near as if to touch the hair, but a glare from him sent them scampering away and they had to content themselves with gawping at it from a distance. She told him what style she wanted, and instructed him to keep the length of the hair intact, and he nodded silently in agreement as he started to weave her hair. Two hours later, her transformation was complete. He had done a masterful job, and it looked as if the hair was actually hers. He had left a small section of her own medium length hair out in front, and even after peering at it closely, it was impossible to tell where her own hair ended and the extensions started. She had had a manicure and pedicure while her hair was being done, and she looked liked she had just stepped off the set of a Hollywood movie. Not wanting to smudge her nails, she motioned to one of the stylists to help her open her tote, and she carefully peeled off some notes from the bundle she had placed just inside. ‘Please help me pay’ she instructed K-Row, ‘and then you can keep the change.’ Her mind went to Deinde briefly as she thought about how his jaw would drop when he saw her, and then she frowned as she remembered his strange behaviour the day before. ‘I hope he has gotten over whatever was disturbing him, and I hope that nurse of his has seen to his hand’ were her thoughts as she headed out to her car.
Deinde stared at his wife sullenly as she continued to talk. He had denied anything being the matter when she had woken him up, and had insisted that he cut his hand whilst in a barber’s salon in Rio after mistakenly picking up a shaving razor. He had laughed off her insistence that she had seen hair growing in his cut, and had said it must have come off the dirty razor. Shade was worried the cut was infected, but since it had apparently started to heal, he was in no mood to be badgered about seeing a doctor, and all he wanted to do was to get of of his house and go to Deidre’s so they could get into the party mood before going out to the party itself. He tuned in briefly to listen to his wife, and visibly bristled when she said she perceived that something was seriously amiss.
‘There you go again’ he roared. ‘You and all this your brainwashed talk. What on earth does perceive mean? Why can’t you speak plain English? And you had better get that oil stain out of my Persian carpet before I get home tonight, otherwise you’ll be perceiving something else.’ With that, he turned his back on her, and went back to sleep.
To be continued…