Fiction

‘A part from the whole’

Hair!

She had always dreamt and desired to have long black shiny hair which would fall beyond her shoulders, but Pamela had never really had the will to grow her hair. Throughout the weekend, she had considered the pros and cons of the matter and after thirty minutes of serious internal dialogue, she took a positive decision and proceeded to inform her grandfather, if not for anything else, for the fact that he would be responsible for footing the bills.

For her, hair making was not like for the others. She knew what it would entail; time, money, speculations at school, and even her not so strong skull. As she expected, he said no completely to the whole idea.

“Say yes, please.” She begged

“No” he answered

“Yes” she insisted

“No” he maintained

“Yes”

“Oh! Come off it, Pamela. We are talking about your health here. Your skull, as you know better than I do, is as fragile as an egg and there’s nothing we can do about it”.

“That was way back then, when I was younger” she protested, shaking her head vigorously as if to prove him wrong. “I’m bigger, better and stronger now. Several times, I’ve accidentally hit my head on the wall for example, and I had expected death, fracture of my skull or amnesia, but nothing abnormal happened. And today, I’m not just alive; I’m normal, hale and hearty”.

“Have you considered internal injuries?” he asked

“I never considered that” she admitted, frowning.

Alex had taught her the act of manoeuvring and now the situation called for it. She stood up quietly, and walked gracefully to the window overlooking the small garden where she spent her leisure caring for the plants, and with her body stiff, she concentrated her attention on the plants, as if they were all that mattered.

She stood like that in silence for about two and half minutes and was almost giving up the act when she heard footsteps behind her. Her grandpa was coming. A genuine smile came to her face for a fraction of a second and was quickly replaced by a blank expression; she remained still and waited.

Of course, he knew that she was putting up an act – after all, he had once been her age and even more, he was her grandfather – and he knew what she was trying to get by doing so. But, he decided to play along and in the end, indulge her as always. He was lucky he had a sensible girl for a grandchild. He came to stand beside her.

One look at her face and he almost burst out laughing. Anyone who didn’t know her would have been deceived by her expression, but definitely not him. He decided to start a conversation.

“The plants are beautiful, aren’t they?” he asked

Pamela almost cried. This wasn’t what she had expected to hear, but she managed to keep her cool.

“Yes, they are, especially the flowers,” she replied, her expression blank.

“Still thinking about the ‘hair’ issue?”

“No” she lied. It was part of the act – to pretend as if it didn’t mean anything to her, anymore.

He smiled and commended her inwardly. “May I ask why?” he asked

“Well”’ she shrugged carelessly “because I’ve learnt to take whatever you decide on, as law. You know, what an elder sees sitting down, a child will not see it, even if she climbs a palm tree”. She said, quoting him. It was yet, another lie.

Not wanting to push further, he said “Permission granted”.

“To do what?” she needn’t ask because she knew the answer, but it was part of the act to do so.

“To start growing your hair; I’ll put no objections in your way.”

The greater part of her wanted to hug him tightly and say a big thank you, but that would mean breaking the rules. So instead, she replied,

“You‘re too kind … to me”

“And you are a good actress, my lamb”

“Oh! Grandpa,” she said, giggling, hugging him tightly. “You always manage to see through me, no matter how hard I try.”

“That’s because I was once your age, and back then, there was no trick under the sun that I didn’t learn and use in order to get people to do what I wanted; to be in control of a conversation or situation.”

“I’m so grateful, grandpa. Thank you.” As an afterthought, she added, all thoughts of breaking the rules forgotten. “I guess this is warmer and better than the formal ‘you’re too kind’.”

“One last question” he said and seeing a mild frown flash through her face, he quickly added, “I promise you that your answer will not change my earlier decision. My yes remains yes.” He said firmly

“I’m all ears”, she said, relieved

“‘The hair is the beauty of a woman’ they say, but, sometimes, there are exceptions to that rule. I’ve seen lots of ladies that low cut hair like yours fits them more than longer hair. So, I ask you” he finally said “how do you know, in fact, what makes you think that having a longer hair will make you more beautiful?”

“Um, um …” Pamela was at a loss as to what to say. She hadn’t anticipated this and thus, hadn’t thought about it.

“I just know that it will, I feel it, I can sense it, somehow” she tried to say, thankful that she had the assurance of his yes despite her answer whose argument was committing the fallacy of petitio principii – which means ‘begging the question’.

Her grandfather silently went to his room and reappeared with an old long hair wig and a weave-on brush. Wordlessly, he motioned to Pamela to come to him – she thought she saw his eyes shining with tears but she kept her observations to herself. She came to him and still silent, he wore the wig on her head, adjusted it and brushed it down. Without stopping to admire it, he asked her to check it out in the mirror. Pamela looked at her reflection for half a minute and she liked the completely different face that was staring at her from the mirror. She turned to face her grandfather,

“How do I look, grandpa?”

“Cute” he replied matter-of-factly “I must confess; I knew it was going to look good on you, since you have the same shape of face as your late grandmother. The wig belonged to her” he added with a catch in his voice.

Pamela understood now – the tears in his eyes.

“It’s been almost twelve years since your grandma died and I still weep at the memory of her. Each time, I remember her death; I’m reminded that I had lost the best thing that ever happened to me, then”. Taking the wig from her hand, he added with a half smile “But now, my love, you are the best thing that ever happened to me, and seeing you fills me with light and happiness.”

She smiled “Thank you, grandpa. I’m glad that you’re happy with me”.  She said and ended it there, trying to avoid committing the blunder of continuing the discussion about her late grandmother (whom she had barely known), knowing that it would evoke sad memories for him.

“It’s settled” she said with a tone of finality, bringing the topic back to her hair. “Next Monday, I’ll go to school with my hair made, right?”

“Right”

“You know, grandpa, I wonder what their reaction at school would be on Monday, especially with the helpless fact that since my hair is very short, I’ll be using rubber thread for a start”.

“Alexia will be surprised and maybe she’ll sing a litany of praises for your courage. For the others, I cannot predict, because I do not know them, but I see no reason why you should be laughed at. Take my advice; keep your cool and your smile, laugh at ridicule, don’t let others’ insolent words get through to you, and despise the bogey of whatever people may say”.

“Um-hum, that’s a nice one. I promise you, I’ll surely remember that though I do hope I won’t need it anytime soon” she said, referring to Monday. ‘Would that their overall reaction will just be so-so’ she wished, but if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride…..

©2014

Amaka Anozie

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