south african lifestyle blog
"The Big Chop" is a Scam

Yesterday I re-cut my hair after a mild flirtation with a head of hair and getting braids put in. I’m currently not in the mood for more hair. I wrote this earlier in the year and it's still true.

At some point during each night, since mid-February, I feel myself curse. The cursing is because, in my deep sleep, I've felt my bonnet slip off. I bought the bonnet sometime in 2015. I remember getting some money from a freelance gig and paying, like, three months' rent and buying some food and buying the bonnet. It seemed like such an off, luxe thing to have been buying at the time but I’m glad 2015 Nomali felt that she needed it and got it.

Now that I've cut my hair, the bonnet is too big for my head. I probably should buy a new one but what's the point.

My hair used to be a sun-bleached ginger growing up. My baby hair still is, so I'm not sure if it was wholly because of the sun or if it's a genetic thing. One year, I think it was the year I started school because the Decembers after that were not conducive to this (my father died the December I was in my second year of school, I don’t remember the 1999 December but I know life was unravelling, my grandfather was dead by the last December my father’s people were my primary people), my grandfather relaxed my hair.

I remember everyone at home making a big deal about the cream not being toxic or burn-y. And, unlike my aunt's adventures in curling my hair with a "thonger," I don't remember it burning. So he was right. What I do remember is him shaving the hair off come January. It wasn't a big deal because that's what was my default. We were not allowed to have long, or relaxed, or plaited or big hair in school.

This is how I remember my favourite grandfather, my only grandfather: doing my hair, planning a flower bed outside our dining room next to the veranda, taking photographs, bringing me my favourite pie and my father's sister her favourite food. Ironing his clothes and whistling along to his music on a Sunday. Telling me stories in the dark.

When I was in high school there were two things my mother wouldn't let me do: cut my hair or pierce my nose. I got the urge to cut my hair all the way down every other term and she, instead, came with a new hairstyle. I got it because how much salon relaxer money my ghel spent on me pliz.

Because she fell ill at the start of my matric year, I cut it by the second term. You know how the whole relaxer and growth thing goes. I haven't looked back since. I've cut my hair at every whim. 

Unlike the hyperbolic quotes that always equate haircuts with "she's coming for everything!!!" for me, haircuts are just an expression of how tired I am of myself. This year, was the first proper-to-the-roots haircut. Before that, I did an undercut in 2015

Other than the fact that my scalp was dry and irritated, 2016 had been the year when my hair had become a chore. While I liked conditioning it and seeing a difference every time I took the time to do a nice thing to it, I was just over having hair. I was also over "big hair" or "afro" as the pinnacle of natural black hair.

In the picture, I am 3 with my arm around a boy (I don't remember him) and visiting my mother "eGoli lakho Ma."