Obedience

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Tamara had been growing out her fro for good, long while now. She liked to fluff it up and style it in many different ways. Every day, she would show up to school with a new hairdo. The boys loved her hair and her timid and shy nature, perfectly polite and nice to everyone she met.

Her mama though was a stark contrast to the maturing girl. She came from the old country and carried some heavy baggage with her. She loved her daughter dearly but would always speak her mind on how her daughter should dress and act when in company.

One day, as Tamara was teasing her fro with a comb, her mother came and said,”Come on, let’s go”

Tamara wasn’t one to ask where her mama wanted her to go, always just wanting to enjoy the car ride there. When her mum’s car came to a stop on the curb in town, the young lady looked out the passenger side window. There was clothing store right outside. A beautiful mannequin had on a long dress that had the colors of a warm sunset. The only problem Tamara thought her mother would take an issue with was that the sleeves were short and puffed out at the shoulders. Other than that undeniably fact, Tamara thought it was the most beautiful dress she ever had the pleasure to see.

”Here’s a twenty”,her mother said plainly, handing the girl the dollar bill,”There’s a barbershop right on the corner. I want you to go in and ask the hairdresser for a 00 buzz cut all over. You understand”

”Yes, ma’am”,Tamara nodded. She then opened the car door and stepped onto the sidewalk.

”I’ll be at the thrift store across town and will pick you up in an hour, is that clear”,her mother said.

”Yes, ma’am”,Tamara nodded as she shut the door to the car. The car then drove away and left the girl standing outside the clothing store. She could’ve went inside and defied her mother by buying the dress but that wasn’t who Tamara was. Her feet started to walk down the sidewalk in a sort of good-lucky skip. Even the cloudy sky couldn’t dampen the young lady’s mood.

She arrived at the shop and took a moment to read the sign. “Little lady barbershop” it read. Tamara smiled,”This must be the place”. Her hand pulled open the door, which tinkled the bell above the door. The hairdresser inside turned her head and seeing the young lady, smiled warmly.

”Good afternoon”,the middle-aged woman curtsied,”Please, come and take a seat and then we can get you started”

”Thank you”,Tamara sat in the leather-bound styling chair daintily and smoothed out her dress after she made herself comfortable.

”What can I do for you today?”the woman tossed a blue cape around her new comer’s body,”Could I interest you in some braids or would you like just a cut with some color or no?”

”My mother wants me to get a 00 buzz cut all over”,Tamara replied.

”A 00 buzz cut all over?”the hairdresser was perplexed by the request,”We would be basically shaving everything off. Are you sure that is what you want, luv?”

”It’s what mama wants me to get”,Tamara said plainly,”She knows what’s best for me so yes, it’s what I want”

”Alright”,the barber lady shrugged, grabbing her teasing comb and clippers. She picked through Tamara’s hair until it all was good and fluffy. Fitting the comb into the young lady’s hair and lifting some of it up, the hairdresser breathed and switched on her clippers. There was a humming sound as the clippers started to mow the hair off. Stick the comb into the hair, lift, and clip off the excess, this process was repeated again and again. The young lady’s Afro shrunk smaller and smaller as more hair blanketed the floor thickly in tight curls.

Tamara had a moderately short fro when the hairdresser clicked off the clippers to ask,”I must ask, luv. Do you really want a 00 buzz cut all over. I mean, this is nice and short. I’m sure your mama will approve of this”

”Mama said she wants me to get a 00 buzz cut all over”,Tamara playfully teased her short fro, stopping only to give the hairdresser a nod to continue the haircut.

”What’s your mama’s phone number?”the hairdresser asked.

The young lady spouted off the sequence of digits like she had rehearsed it a million times. She always had her mama’s phone number on hand in case school got out earlier than expected. Tamara wasn’t allowed to walk home alone. Her mama made it clear that if school got out early, she was to go to the office and call home for her mama to come and pick her up.

”I’m going to call her real quick”,the hairdresser said,”There must be a misunderstanding”. The hairdresser dialed the number on her phone and when Tamara’s mama answered the phone, she told the hairdresser to give Tamara the phone. Reluctantly, the hairdresser handed the phone to the young lady.

”Hello”,Tamara said.

”Did I make myself clear on what haircut you’re supposed to get”,Tamara’s mom replied.

”Yes, ma’am”,Tamara nodded as if her mother was in the shop,”I keep telling her what you said but-“

”Ah-ah ah”,her mother said,”You sit still for the hairdresser and tell her you need a 00 buzz cut all over or I will make a formal complaint and take you somewhere different to finish up the job, is that understood”

”Yes, ma’am”,Tamara nodded as they said their goodbyes and hung up. The young lady gave the hairdresser back her phone as she was profusely apologizing to Tamara and said,”My mama would really appreciate it if you would continue giving me a 00 buzz cut all over”

The hairdresser nodded and clicked her clippers back on. What was still a bit long was cut down into very short stubble wasn’t visible to the naked eye. And soon, Tamara had barely a millimeter of hair on her head. She looked at herself in the mirror and smiled a tiny smile at herself.

”It’s all gone”,the hairdresser took off the cape and shook off the shorn hair that had stuck to it during the haircut.

”Yes, it is”,Tamara said,”Like I wanted”

Tamara stood up from the chair and gave the hairdresser the twenty dollars for the haircut. But the hairdresser refused the payment,”You smiling is payment enough”

The young lady smiled and put the twenty in her dress pocket. She wanted to give the hairdresser a hug but her mom’s car pulled up at that moment. Tamara said goodbye to the hairdresser, who meekly smiled on as the girl left the shop, and hurried out to the car.

”You did as I asked”,her mom said, impressed,”I’m glad. Did you remember to pay the hairdresser?”

”That’s the thing”,Tamara said, almost ecstatically,”She didn’t want the money and let me keep it”

”What?!”her mom bellowed,”That makes no sense. Come, let’s go”

”Mom, she-“

”Don’t argue, come now”,her mom and she marched back into the shop. The hairdresser was throwing Tamara’s curls in the disposal when she saw the two coming in.

”My daughter says that you refused the money I gave her for her haircut”,her mom said to the hairdresser,”Is that true”

”Yes”,the hairdresser answered,”I just thought she should buy something that would complement her new haircut”

”What?”the girl’s mom was indignant,”She doesn’t need anything to compliment her haircut. I provide everything she needs. You have some nerve”

”Well, I’m sorry”,the hairdresser shrugged,”But I’m not taking the money”

”Unbelievable”,the girl’s mom threw up her hands,”Fine. Tamara, let’s go”

The two left the shop and entered the car. Tamara looked out the window as her mother muttered something in her first language and started the car. But before the woman even gripped the steering wheel, she looked at Tamara who had the money in her hand ready to give it back.

”No, mija”,her mom shook her head,”You did as I asked. If you really want to buy that dress, I’ll buy it for ya”

Tamara looked at her mom, as if not believing the words that were coming out of her mouth.

”I don’t know how much it costs though?”the young lady confessed.

”We’ll look”,her mom gave her an approving smile,”It’s my treat”

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