I walked into the yard with mild apprehension. I had experienced all sorts of family things with my family people, and no matter what I have done, this place was home. And I could never go anywhere else. I stepped through the door, hoping to find no one in the lounge, so that I take that chance to steal to my room and put a doek on. But my grandmother was sitting there in her corner chair, staring at the foreign person I had become. “Child, what have you done to your hair?” she asked slowly in disbelief. At that very same moment I could feel my kinky coils being tugged by two hands, undoing knots and creaming every possible strand. The relaxer felt cold on my warm scalp, tight with anxiety and excitement. A little plastic cap was put on my head covering all my creamed hair, for a long forty-five minutes. Then, as if in one entire motion, all that was taken off, shampooed and dried. The comb ran through my hair in swift tangle-free strokes. And then I knew I had done it. I was finally beautiful. My hair was no longer knotty undisciplined coils, but flowing tassels of dark silk.

But my grandmother thought otherwise. She motioned me to her and I fell at her feet. “Child, you are desecrated. You have changed yourself to suit standards of beauty you were never meant to chase. Your curls, they are your heritage, your true self. Who you are was never in the straightness of your hair but the curl of it. You are you, with no modification. God the artist painted you brown beautiful, and crafted you kinky. And a true honor to Him, even to yourself, is maintaining the design of your beauty, with no shame.” I ran fast to bring a pair of scissors and a doek. I was uncultured, and I had to go back.

May no child ever feel inadequate enough to try and change, be weakened to a point of alteration. May you grow up to embrace your deep shade of delight, your coils of culture, for you are the blueprint of a special man. For every sun-child wondering if they are beautiful, remember the shade of your skin and the curls of your hair, Difference is beautiful. You are the epitome of just that.


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