Sharon grabbed one of her Kente printed capes from off the hook and draped it around Zehira. "Kente for my African Queen," she said as she lifted Zehira's hair and fastened the velcro closure around her neck.
"I don't see why you're so upset," Zehira said as she pulled her arms from under the cape and placed her canvas handbag onto the floor. "You are always telling me it's just hair and you have plenty of natural clients," she added.
Sharon let out a sigh before she responded. "I am not upset. I just hope you have really thought about this. Like I said, I have many clients who thought they wanted to go natural because either they saw some celebrity with a cute kinky hairstyle or they are just trying to impress some Afrocentric brotha they have just met," Sharon matter-of-factly stated with her hand on her hip.
"And you and I know good and well that 99.5% of the time that celebrity is wearing a kinky lace wig and that brotha is gone within a month!" she added and the ladies in the salon all laughed and nodded in agreement.
"That's true, but I have really thought about this and I am ready for my natural journey," Zehira responded. "Well, I have to say you do have more sense than most of my other clients, so I guess you know what you're doing," Sharon decided.
Sharon pulled her cart packed with her hairstyling gadgets closer to Zehira's chair. She pulled out one of the drawers and fished out a camera. "If you don't mind, Z, I'm going to document this for my book," she said. "Don't mind at all," Zehira said. "In fact once you get them printed I would like a copy," she added.
Sharon put the camera around her neck and walked behind the salon chair. She untied the silk scarf Zehira was wearing on her head like a headband and combed through her hair with her fingers.
"You do have a lot of new growth, so you wont be completely bald," she said as she snapped a few pictures of the back and sides of Zehira's head focusing on the length. "You know, you have more than 10 inches of permed ends, do you want to donate it?" she asked.
"That's a wonderful idea, Sharon. I hadn't even thought about that," Zehira responded excitedly. "I haven't done this in a long time, but I'm sure we have a Locks of Love donation form around here somewhere," Sharon said as she walked over to the reception area and pulled open a file cabinet behind the desk.
As she searched through the files she said, "Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that makes hairpieces for children with long-term medical hair loss. They also take donations that you can write-off on your taxes," she added. "Bingo," she shouted and walked back over to the booth handing Zehira the form.
Zehira read over the form and reached down to get a pen out of her bag. While she filled out the necessary information, Sharon put her hair in a ponytail then braided it in a long braid. She snapped a picture of the braid and took the form from Zehira.
"Okay, are you ready?" she asked as she clicked the pair of scissors she had in her hand. "Wait one minute," this came from the stylist who was putting rods in her client's head. Sharon and Zehira watched curiously, as she snapped the last rod closed and directed her client over to the row of hair dryers.
After her client was positioned under the dryer she set the timer and walked over to the CD player. "I've got just the thing to set the mood," she said as she flipped through a CD book. She pulled out two CDs and put them into the player.
"We will start with track 11 on this one, and then end with track one and 12 on this," she said as she made her selections, pressed the play button and walked back over to her booth. The moment they heard the tune, both Sharon and Zehira smiled over at the stylist who was now sitting in the chair in her booth flipping through a magazine, bobbing her head to the beat.
The mood was set, India.Arie's 'I Am Not My Hair' poured through the salon. Zehira closed her eyes, took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I am more than ready," she smiled as she opened her eyes and looked up at Sharon now waving the scissors over her head to the beat of the music.
Sharon sashayed backed behind the chair and adjusted it, while humming the tune. Zehira felt a couple of tugs, and before the second verse of the song Sharon was by her side singing along with the song, waving the scissors as well as her braid in the air.
Pausing from her singing and dancing, Sharon said, "I'm going to wash this, bag it up and mail it off with your form," then she disappeared back behind Zehira. Zehira's head felt cooler and lighter. She had to restrain herself from reaching up and touching her hair, she just closed her eyes and listened to the words of the song. She felt a few more light tugs and in-between beats of the song heard a few more clicks of the scissors. A few moments later she felt the chair spin.
Sharon had turned her chair toward the big mirrored wall. Zehira opened her eyes and slowly raised her head. As if on cue the next track on the CD began to play - 'Freedom' from The Panther soundtrack. Zehira smiled from ear to ear. She was truly free.
"From the smile on your face I take it that you are pleased," Sharon said as she brushed off a few stray hairs from around Zehira's neck and ears, and snapped a couple more pictures. "It's actually better than I imagined," Zehira said approvingly as she ran one of her hands through her hair.
"Good, now let's move over to the shampoo station," Sharon said. As Zehira followed Sharon over to the shampoo station she noticed the approving smiles and nods of the other ladies as she walked by. As Zehira leaned back in the chair she felt the sensation of the warm water running throughout her scalp.
"Now, when you wash I want you to start off with warm water to open up the hair cuticles to clean all the oil and dirt and then end with cool to close them, which will make your hair shine," Sharon instructed. Zerhira managed to come out from under the spell of Sharon massaging her scalp with the palms of her fingers, and say "Okay."
After Sharon rinsed and conditioned Zehira's hair she patted it with a towel and led her back over to the booth chair. Zerhira sat down and Sharon patted a few more dripping spots and placed a towel over Zehira's shoulders, she kept the chair facing the mirrored wall.
"Your hair is short enough for you to wash or rinse it and let it air dry, but I am going to put you under the dryer for a few minutes. But, before I do that let me add a little moisturizer," Sharon said. She opened another drawer on her cart and pulled out a little round jar. She removed the lid and waved the jar under Zehira's nose. Zehira breathed in the heavenly cocoa-vanilla scent. "Mmmm, what's that?" she asked.
"It's called 'Whipped Pudding' made by Oyin," Sharon said as she placed a little on the palm of her hands and massaged it into Zehira's hair. "I'm going to need to take some of that home with me," Zehira stated. She noticed that '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Women' from The Panther soundtrack was now playing. That DJ hairstylist was on a roll.
"Well, you can take this one with you - on the house," Sharon responded. "Thanks," Zehira smiled. "Now, as they say the first one is always free, but you're going to have to check out the website and buy your own," Sharon added.
After she sat under the dryer for a few minutes Sharon led Zehira back over to the chair one final time. She added a little more of the Whipped Pudding to Zehira's hair and a few sprays of leave in conditioner. "That's also from Oyin," she said, 'Juices and Berries'."
"It smells wonderful," Zehira said as she admired the little shiny coils on her head. Sharon also added a small gardenia hair clip to the left side of Zehira's head. "Same side as Lady Day wore hers after her little accident," she said as she adjusted the flower, and snapped one last picture.
"Well, I wont have to worry about curling iron accidents anymore," Zehira said as she rose from the chair. Zehira jotted down the list of websites Sharon gave her, paid and thanked her for the gifts. She also waived to the other ladies in the salon and thanked them for their compliments. As she left the salon she felt like a new woman - a new natural women.
List of Sites Zehira left the salon with:
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