It was a free haircut


It was one of those normal afternoons; where I neither was in the mood to shop for groceries nor prepare a meal even if someone volunteered to get the groceries. But I had gotten used to psyching myself that those were not negotiable whilst I lived with my mum.

I walked sluggishly to that store just in the neighborhood for which I will be eternally grateful. Less walking to do! Upon arriving there, I got distracted. No matter how hard I tried, I kept looking at the scene until I lost the ability to be embarrassed.

There, seated on a bench was the father of the about 10 or 11-year old boy sitting on the lower-leveled stool. It was obvious the boy’s neck hurt. He had to bend his neck so his father could have better control over his quarter shaven head. The man worked noisily…dipping the shaving stick in a plastic transparent container that was a fifth-full with what now looked like a mixture of black kinky hair and water. Every now and then, he hit the shaving stick against the walls of the container to get the hair off. He dipped the shaving stick in the substance and did some more hitting before he began scraping the unwanted hair off his son’s head. For a split second, I thought his son had contracted the ring-worm disease on his scalp. But when I inquisitively looked around the head, what I saw was a healthy scalp.

Only problem was: it needed a haircut. And that was what happening.

I noticed I was staring too hard when the man’s eyes met mine about three times that minute. And for some weird reason, I looked at the haircut of the man. It was a clean one. Done probably by one of the local experts. And then I got angry. He sure got himself a proper haircut but was subjecting his son to a neck strain, public humiliation and hours of strenuous torture having his hair shaved with an almost blunt shaving stick! How shameless!

But then when our eyes met for the fourth time that minute, I saw it. It was too obvious to have been missed. Too clear to have been misinterpreted. It was shame. Pure shame.  Shame that came from his inability to give his son a decent haircut. Shame that stemmed from the expressionless face of his wife because the scenario was normal. Shame that couldn’t explain that he had to part with those cedis for his haircut because his son couldn’t have given him a free haircut.

I looked away from his eyes to the face of the girl in the oversized torn Christmas-like dress with several particles of sand in her hair. She watched the process like it was a movie she had paid to see. She scratched her own head and watched as dust particles fell out onto the ground.

I was forced back to reality when the vendor asked what else I wanted to buy. I had simply lost my train of thoughts. How would I not when I spent so much effort in being blind and judgmental? I think the shop should be opened now.

Who wants a free haircut?


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