In Jamaica, if someone tells you seh yuh “faas”, it means you’re too inquisitive.
Mi nuh faas. I’m just observant and curious. I don’t ask questions. I simply look on at whatever scene may be unfolding within my earthly space. And, who knows, sometime in the near or distant future, I may scrape off just a tups of that scene (likkle bit, like 2 seconds worth of action) and make a short story out of it. Like the piece below.
Let me assure you. None of the dialogue actually happened. None of the characters are real. It’s pure fiction.
So, to my friends, acquaintances and family that read this blog, no need to start dodging me or talking behind your hands 🙂
Enjoy! Let me know what you think, and if you would like to see more short stories–about Jamaican life, of course.
STRAIGHTENING OUT LIFE
Each time the little girl cried out, the women tapped their hands to their chests, screwed up their faces, shook their heads and mewed.
“Where’s her mother?”
“She went to buy lunch, Mrs. Gregory.”
“Buy lunch? At a time like this!”
“She said she hungry.”
“Oh, Lord . . . Never mind you hear, honey. Auntie Vinette soon finish. Vinette, you soon finish?”
“Yes, Mrs. Gregory.”
“Poor likkle ting.”
“Is so my daughter hair stay too, you know, Mrs. G. She has one massive head of hair on her head. Hell to shampoo and detangle. Whole-day thing.”
“Mrs. Chung, I don’t envy you.”
“Is my husband side a family she get it from. His two sisters have hair like you wouldn’t believe. Jackie sisterlock her own because she can’t bother with the headache. And, last Saturday, Tina cut off hers again and run likkle texturizer through it.”
“Well, thank God I have sons. Didn’t have those things to contend with while they were growing up.”
The chimes above the salon door jingled as a woman pushed her way in. She dropped her bottom in one of the leather sectionals and opened a Styrofoam box of mallah chicken and fried rice.
“You are this little girl’s mother?” Mrs. Gregory pointed to the seven year old sitting, legs crossed, in a salon chair.
The woman shoved a forkful of rice into her mouth and nodded.
“Then how yuh leave her so?”
“Is so her hair tek long to do all the time.”
“Is you she get it from. Look how your hair full and bouncy. Just permed?”
The woman nodded and bit into a piece of chicken.
“You not going perm hers?”
“I would love to, but her father will have none of it.”
“Men can say anything . . . I don’t wrong you for wanting to straighten out her hair, mi love. But the poor likkle ting look like she sliding off the chair, the way she afraid of the dryer. ”
“Imani! Sit up and stop the cow bawling! Yuh soon finish, Vinette?”
“Yes, Mrs. Bell.”
“Because I need to be leaving now. It’s almost midday, and I still haven’t reached the supermarket.”
“Supermarket you going after this?” Mrs. Gregory asked.
Mrs. Bell nodded, mouth full of chicken and rice.
“Then what a way things dear ee?”
“Nowadays, I just shut my eyes and surrender the credit card to the cashier. This government you si!” Mrs. Bell kissed her teeth. “They tax every striking thing name thing.”
“Not easy at all, mi love. In the evenings, I don’t even watch local news again—too upsetting. I just watch the foreign one and then call it a night.”
“But even foreign people suffering.”
“Imani! Yuh still crying?”
“Tek time wid her, mi love. Her scalp supposed to tender when Vinette done. All that pulling and tugging. And the blow dryer looks well hot. How often you wash her hair?”
“Anytime she says her scalp itching.”
“You are the same Bells from the auto place up Liguanea?”
“That’s the brother-in-law. My husband owns the car mart near Musgrave.”
“Really? Some nice BMWs over there. Where him import them from?”
“Anywhere he can get a good price.”
“That’s where you work?”
Mrs. Bell shook her head. “Insurance company.”
The chimes jingled.
“Hi,” Mrs. Gregory greeted the woman taking a seat beside her. “What you having done?”
“I don’t know.”
“How you mean you don’t know?”
The woman shrugged.
“Doris Gregory.” Mrs. Gregory stuck out a hand.
“Kamla McLeod . . . You’re the lawyer lady representing that government-contractor guy?”
“Same one, mi love. Mi face all over the news.”
“Then is what happening with you why you sighing down the place so?”
“My husband wants me to straighten my hair.”
“But you have a lovely, thick head of hair.”
“Tell him that, nuh. He says I look too ‘rootsy’.”
“Rootsy? What him mean by dat?”
“Ask him . . . From the day I did my big chop, he’s been asking me when I’m going to crème it again.”
“Some men don’t like natural hair you know, mi love.”
“But I like it . . . And you know the hurtful thing?”
“He had the gall to tell me I can’t go to the awards function if my hair going stay like this.”
“Is that so? But it fits your face.”
“He doesn’t think so. Says I should have consulted him before making such a big decision. What big decision? It’s my hair!”
“No, love, it’s not your hair. It’s his. You never know that?”
Kamla folded her arms and pouted.
“So what you going to do?” Mrs. Gregory asked.
“I don’t know.”
“When is the function?”
“Tonight. At the Pegasus.”
“Wear a wig,” Mrs. Chung suggested.
“Wear a wig.”
“Then what’s wrong with wig, Miss Kamla?” Mrs. Gregory straightened her back. “I’m wearing one.”
“Alopecia. Too much stress them seh, mi love. Too much stress.
©Dionne Brown 2016
Catch yuh next time!
Peace and love,
Image of “Hair Dryer to Dry Hair” courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net