Jenna was ecstatic when she heard the news that her mom was telling her. Pops got a big promotion before end of July and they were all going to visit his sister. A few things to consider about Jenna’s daddy: he was born in Nigeria, born and raised, he met his wife at a Singapore restaurant and they hit it off. He thought his mother would kill him for dating an American girl with red hair and was whiter than snow but she also was pleased with his choice. They got married on the 7th of September and moved to America for business reasons.
Jenna knew she about her granny and aunt in Nigeria but she never really got to see them much. Her aunt would come by plane from decade to decade and when she did, it was like the pope choosing to come and bless some old Indian village. And she would bring gifts for her niece, traditional gifts from her homeland.
So you would imagine how excited Jenna was to finally be able to fly to her aunt’s. To be frank, she would’ve died from that excitement but it had time to dissipate on the long flight. It took almost eight hours for the airplane to reach the country. Jenna couldn’t even stand up for a while as she to rejuvenate herself with some good walking.
Her family took a rental car out into the countryside where her pops used to roam. The village he lived in was quaint but had some essential things: school, market, and a small post office. People there hailed him as an old friend and caught him up on the local lore as his wife and kid made their way towards his sister’s home.
”Jenna!”the sister of Jenna’s pops sang out, giving her a big hug,”Oh, how I missed you”
”I missed you to, auntie”,smiled Jenna.
They all ate dinner that day and talked through the night. Jenna’s aunt had become an organizer for the school and had brought many a child under her wing and roof. She loved children but bore none herself, although she did joke she could have one because of her plump figure. It was just amazing to be in her home, listening to her stories.
Jenna and her folks stayed at her aunt’s until it was only a week before school in the village. She thought her family would head back to America but that was not the case. One day, her aunt said to her mom,”Oh, you guys haven’t been here long and you are a housewife correct?”
”That is so”,replied her mom.
”Well”,the aunt went on,”I would like you and Jenna to stay here , my brother will not mind”
It was a radical proposal and Jenna’s mom knew it so she asked,”What about Jenna’s education? Do you have the resources available?”
”It’s not as glamorous but why not let Jenna learn from the land”
”I’ll have to talk it over with my husband”
At that moment, Jenna clapped her hands and ran to mother, crying,”Mom, mom! Can we, can we stay?!”
Her mom did talk to her husband about the proposition, he was unsure if he should but surmised they were in good hands. They agreed that he would return home alone and Jenna would go to school in Nigeria for a little while. The news couldn’t be greater for Jenna to hear. She and her mum escorted her father to the airport and hugged and kissed him goodbye.
The next day, Jenna woke up to a partly cloudy morning. She walked into the kitchen where her mom and aunt were eating breakfast. They were discussing something and smiled at her when she entered. Eating alongside them, Jenna was playfully nudged by her mother who said,”Today is a big day”
Jenna smiled,”How so?”
”Your auntie is going to prepare you for school”
”I am”,Jenna’s aunt grinned,”I will admit, it is quite different here than in America. There is a dress code and you will need to follow it”
”Dress wha-?”Jenna was confused.
”A uniform is required to attend”,her aunt went on,”And how do the Americans say it? Let’s nip it the bud, you will need a haircut”
Jenna couldn’t believe what she was hearing. A haircut? She hadn’t cut her hair in years, mom only gave her trims from time to time. She didn’t want a haircut but her mom convinced her it wouldn’t be so bad and her aunt did all the children’s hair in the village. Jenna just smiled and said,”Okay”
As the day progressed, Jenna’s aunt took her measurements to make the uniform. She was a bit smaller than she had expected. Around 1 in the afternoon, Jenna and her mom and aunt walked to the village square. Tables and plastic lawn chairs were laid out and on the tables, were clippers and combs and scissors. Black caps laid over its respective chair and all the children of the village were there. Jenna made a few acquaintances as her aunt opened the event with a speech and a blessing for the new school year.
When the clapping died down, Jenna was called to a chair by her dear aunt who had the cape draped over her right arm. The girl walked nervously to the chair and sat in it cautiously. Her aunt spread the cape around her niece and snapped its buttons behind her neck. Another girl, about Jenna’s age, was also covered in the black vinyl. She had short, tightly curled hair that Jenna thought didn’t need cutting. As she watched, Jenna saw her aunt reaching for the clippers that had no attachment to it. Her heart pounded in her chest as she saw that all the barbers in attendance were doing the same.
”Head up”,Jenna heard her aunt say, then she heard a soft pop and her aunt say,”Head up, please”
Not knowing, Jenna let her head be tilted back a little as she saw the vibrating blades moving toward her head. She wanted to scream but she was frozen to her seat as the clippers slid into her red curls. Her aunt went slow, taking a little more off with each little pass. When she could feel the wind cooling down her crown, Jenna’s head was put back to a regular resting position. Those red curls she always had were going away quickly. They littered the ground but a sweeper boy made sure they were disposed of. Able to see most of her surroundings, Jenna saw all the girls getting clippered down. They did not mind to lose the hair as they had lost a school year prior.
But this was Jenna’s first time and she didn’t know how to feel about it. She was just told she would have to get her hair, not get her head completely buzzed!
”We’re almost there sweetie”,her aunt told her, tilting the girl’s head down some to get the back of her head. She gathered up her curls and cut the strands with the blades, cleaning up the area in separate passes. With that done, the aunt made sure all the remnants of curl were short stubble before turning off the clippers. She dusted her niece off with a brush and loosened the cape.
”You look good”,Jenna’s aunt nodded proudly, giving her niece’s head a rub,”It’ll look even better when it’s shaved”
”Sha- shaved?”Jenna stuttered.
”But we won’t do it today”,replied her aunt,”I’ll do that the night before you head for school”
She gave Jenna a nod as the girl ran to her mother. Her mother was sympathetic but told her this was for the best as she then said,”Hey, at least you won’t be alone”
Jenna looked at her mother, seeing her smile.
”We’re staying here together, aren’t we”,her mother gave a giggle as she walked with her daughter back to her sister-in-law’s chair. Jenna tried to stop her but the mother was insistent on trying the style.