The Silent Aunt in the Salon

Every woman who goes to a salon is sure to be addressed as ‘Aunt.’ You can’t escape the name.

From my office window, I can see the salon which I go to, at Kisementi, just near my workplace. I am having a bad hair day. It is called a ‘hair don’t,’ something that should have been a ‘hair do.’

I walk into my boss’s office, and request to go and buy paracetamol. I am sure he will not ask questions, I am a woman after all. We need pain relievers in our bags, all the time. At Kisementi, I walk into the salon and request for a quick shampoo and set.

Aunt Salon (The owner of the salon) – Aunt, even if you deny for the fifth time, I think I have seen you somewhere, most likely on TV.

Me – Oh! That is not me, but I have a sister who works on TV.

Aunt Salon – Even your voice sounds so familiar.

Me – (Clearing my voice) I have a cold, I sound terrible. This is not my usual voice.

Lady in drier – Aunt Salon, this drier is too hot.

Aunt Salon – Aunt, you told me you are going for burial. Don’t you want to go as quickly as we can make it?

Lady in drier – But I am suffocating. It is too hot… (Her phone rings). Hello Taata Ibra… Please don’t leave me I came over to pick my lesu… Okay, let me be fast about it (Goes off the phone).

Aunt Salon – Your husband is impatient, right?

Lady in drier – Ah! I can’t go for burial with bad hair. I know my co-wife will be there, and you know what that means (Laughter).

Aunt salon – Rose, get me that long comb. And bring my fruits here, plus the liver. I will work as I eat.

I am becoming impatient, but if I talk again, Aunt Salon may discover my voice. I cough a little to draw attention. Aunt Salon seems to understand, and asks her assistant, Rose, to wash my hair as she finishes styling the lady.

Aunt Salon – Phew! She is gone. That woman can be too much. She wants to feel high and mighty yet she has such poor-quality hair, and she smells of onions.

I laugh silently.

Rose – Aunt Salon, your liver is getting cold.

Aunt Salon – Rose, finish up quickly. I will do the setting. Let me eat my liver now. But where is my ‘balance’ from the soda that you bought?

Thinking to myself – it is called ‘change.’ But if anyone said ‘change,’ they would be wrong, by Ugandan standards. And so, I officially accept it to be ‘balance.’

Rose – I gave it to you, Aunt.

Aunt Salon – Rose, you did not give it to me. I want all my money. I am a poor woman, especially now that I am pregnant.

Rose – Kumbe, now whose is it?

Aunt Salon – None of your business. Do your work. Bring the rollers here.

(To me) – Aunt, I am sorry, let me be fast. Are you going back to work?

Me – (I nod).


Aunt Salon – (Thinking aloud)… I am trying so hard to think who could be the father of this baby? If I am three months pregnant, I remember, three months ago I was going out with Hajji Swaib. He has money, but I don’t love him. And Bob already has a wife. He had warned me about getting pregnant. Mugalaasi? Hmm… I insulted him so much the day he caught me with Hajji.

Rose – I told you.

Aunt Salon – Rose, make yourself useful and stop poking your nose into my problems.

In a few minutes, I am ready to go back to office.

Aunt Salon – Aunt, thanks for coming. But I will keep remembering where I saw you. And that voice?

I wave, careful not to say a word, lest she figures out the voice.

What must they be saying about me? Probably, that I am proud because I don’t talk much? Maybe that they know me? Maybe that I have ramshackle hair? Only God knows.

Source : The Observer

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