Sometime 2 years ago, I was in a hair salon sitting comfortably in the comfort of the air conditioner and also trying to accomodate the pain that came with making my hair.
5 minutes later into the making of my hair, a girl of about 10 years of age, walked into the salon.
This salon was a regular salon. It wasn’t very fanciful and tushed up. It was just normal and okay for a second class citizen.
Vera is the owner and the only hair stylist on ground, of the 10 year old hair salon. Vera had been sustaining herself and her family through it which served as the major reason why she couldn’t afford to employ other hair stylists or even tush up the salon.
Still wondering how and why this young girl was left to go to a hair salon all by herself, the girl got up from where she sat and came closer to me. She greeted the hairstylist in vernacular (Igbo Language) and in my little understanding of that language, I could tell that this little girl was the hairstylist’s daughter. After, about 2 mins, the little girl turned away and began to walk back to the chair at the back of the salon and the next thing I saw was blood coming out of her mouth.
Her mom had given her 3 heavy slaps on her lips for not greeting me. I jumped up in fear. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I screamed “what kind of a mother are you? You did this just because she didn’t greet me? Couldn’t you have just scolded, corrected or reminded her to greet? what do you gain from this?”
She didn’t even give attention to what I was saying rather she pulled the little girl’s ear so hard that it turned red immediately. Then she dragged her to the toilet and locked her up.
I was dumbfounded. I just walked back to my seat dazed at what had just happened. After pondering on it for a while I concluded within me that her reaction may have been due to stress.2 months later, I guess I had probably forgotten the incident that happened the other day I was there to make my hair. I got into the salon and she was full of smiles. I told her what I had in mind to be done to my hair and the hair styling process began. It was a Saturday and, all three of her children were there with her.
After she was done with my hair, she asked the older one to pass a jar to her, so she could apply the content to my hair but the youngest one who was about 6 to 7 year old ran to where the jar was and decided to give it to her Mom instead. As she walked towards us, she missed her step and fell down. Luckily for her, both the Jar and its content were intact so she got up and continued her journey to us. She handed it over to her Mom and the next thing I heard was a very hard knock on the head of this child.
I jumped up on seeing how this little girl rolled on the floor in bitter and painful tears.
At that moment I remembered what she did to the older one the last time I was there to make my hair and so I yelled at her… “What has she done this time Madam?”
But she told me to mind my business and that she didn’t need my help in looking after her children. Then, she looked at the little girl on the floor and said “you are lucky that the Jar didn’t break because you’d have seen hell”
I rushed the little girl from the floor and carried her in my hands with tears dripping down my eyes. How could a mother be this wicked. After calming the little girl down I looked at the Mom who was sitting comfortably, looking unconcerned as she scrolled through her phone.
I began to think of what I could do to put an end to this molestation and then it occurred to me… . It occurred to me that I could get her arrested. So I called out to her, “Madam, I think you owe the police an explanation for molesting these kids” She was surprised at that statement, then she went down on her knees and began to beg me not to call the police on her.
I saw this as the perfect time to get her to tell me why she was that cruel to her kids. All this while, all three children were around me and the middle child had whispered into my ears “Aunty, please take us home with you” which actually prompted my decision to call the police.
While she was still on her knees begging I asked her the reason for her wicked behaviour and then she began to tell her story…
“HHMMMM, 6 years after I was born my mom died and my father married another woman who was very cruel to me. This woman did to me 5 times more than what I do to my kids. She starved me for days and some times weeks. Other times, she deprived me from going to school and would beat me blue-black for any little mistake I made. But whenever my father was around, she would always pretend to be nice to me. I tried reporting to him times without number but he never ever believed me because of the very nice way she treated me whenever he was around. Apart from that, he was also under the intoxication and blinding effects of love which made it very easy for her to deceive him.
I never interacted with my step siblings and was made to sleep in the parlour like a house girl in my own father’s house. He wasn’t always around because of the nature of his job. Sometimes he would be away for as long as 3 months. I had to flow with her pretence whenever he was around just so that I wouldn’t get beaten up later on. And that was how things were until I lost my dad at age 17.