Prince of Bel-Air

I didn’t post here last week, just when I thought I was getting the hang of this but it’s the block you see, the block. We should all point our fingers at this beast, we should make a fire and dance around it half naked so it can feel ashamed, so it can run away and hide, so it can tuck itself away safely in Maralal and never show its ugly face again. Seriously, this thing makes guys like me feel like they’ve been clobbered by a log, they should make this block a thing in hospital, you walk into a room and the doctor asks you what seems to be the problem, “I haven’t been sleeping, I look at the cursor blink and then I have the urge to hang myself, I can’t seem to grease the page like I used to, what do you suggest doc?”

“Just take four bottles of beer then you will be fine” wouldn’t that be so cool? But what’s cooler are the kind of answers I get to give to those who ask me why I haven’t posted, ‘This block had kaliad me proper’ don’t even pretend you don’t like how that sounds. Anyway let’s not make this post about another block, let’s talk about more interesting stuff like hair, I know what you’re thinking, I’m about to talk about the beard but stick around, there’s a story here, even you ladies, we could talk about weaves if you want.

So I got a haircut on Thursday, meaning I had to go back to my usual place, Bel-Air Barbers, the place where I’ve had my hair cut since I was a minute old. If you are in town and use Jogoo Road to get out of the city you will find yourself in Makongeni, (a jang’o will call it Okongo to make it clear they own the place) if you go on a bit longer you will find yourself in BuruBuru, you have already gone too far, turn around, go to a place called Jericho, on the other side is a village called Jerusalem,(and no, this has no relation to the Bible, that joke is tired, leave it alone) that’s where my roots are planted. Go there and ask for Zakayo, and you will be asked ‘Zakayo mgani? Fundi wa nywele?’ just to show you they know what they’re talking about but don’t be fooled, there has been no other Zakayo there since 2006. Zakayo is my lunje barber. This man never smiles, and he never says much, instead he listens to Fred Machoka on Sundays and smiles from the sides of his mouth, and he doesn’t like how people admire themselves after he’s done, like they have no faith in him. He is one of those guys who look like they wouldn’t support the gay bill for shit. I’ve not always liked this cat; he was my second after Oloo left us one weekend.

Oloo had this deep voice that like those chaps from Congo, which when you think about it, Oloo could be short for Olomide; I never got the chance to ask him. His voice was enough for you not to introduce your lady to him, because when you walk away she will point it out, that he has a nice voice and that will sting, she will see it in your eyes that you wish you also had an Adam’s apple like that and she will pat your back and tell you not to worry, you compensated it elsewhere, and it will hurt even more that she’s lying.

Bel-Air isn’t one of those places where you get your head massaged by a pretty number called Beth about to do procurement in KU, no; you get your hair cut, slap on some spirit and leave. But as soon as you sat on Oloo’s chair he made you happy that you went there, he talked to you and asked you how everything is at home, and if you couldn’t keep your head steady he would give you a lollipop to distract you. Oloo had a beautiful beard, which further fuels the Olomide theory; it ran down the side of his head thinly like it’s afraid to touch his cheek then it would come together and gather around his chin. Oloo would ask your twelve year old self if you wanted side-burns like his, you couldn’t say no, it was art the way he used to chonga the side of my head and thus the dream of the beard was planted in me. A picture of this man was hanged on the wall; it greeted you as you walked in. Now it’s not there, Oloo is not there, death crept into soul and ran away with it towards the sunset.


Now I have Zakayo, another great barber although we got off on the wrong foot. The first time he shaved my head he overdid it, it was all gone, and the bump at the back of my head was exposed, yes Njeru, I know it’s there. The next time I went there I wanted to go for another barber, and he saw it but he looked at me like he didn’t give a hoot what I did, so I went back to his chair with my head down. We have learnt to live with each other, he knows how I like my hair and he likes how I don’t start random conversations with him, also because he scares the shit out of me. I couldn’t get a picture of him even if I wanted; me and Zack don’t like each other that way.


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