Sunday mornings at our home were all about appearances, especially for the church services. Mother took immense pride in ensuring that each of us looked our best. Our clothes, many of which she lovingly handmade herself, were always more crisp than our school clothes. And our hair had to match and be just as neat as our clothes.
On these mornings, I would find myself engaged in a spirited duel. On one side was my rebellious, nappy hair, and on the other was my mother's large, foreboding pink comb. To avoid the inevitable confrontation, I'd often try to style my hair by myself, sticking a comb just enough to give the appearance of some effort. I'd then hurriedly seek refuge either in the bathroom or outside, hoping she wouldn't get to inspect my hasty handiwork.
However, no matter how stealthy I was in dodging her, she had an eagle eye for spotting my unruly mane. As we settled into the car, I avoided her sight line through the rearview mirror. Inevitably, she would catch a glimpse and begin the rigorous process of taming my locks. With one hand holding my head firm, she'd wield the comb with the other, tugging and pulling at the knots. Each yank felt like she was pulling my brains out of my scalp.
"Keep those hands down!" she'd caution, or even threaten, "Do you want me to use this comb on you?" Amidst the struggle of my squirming and her persistent efforts, there would be a cacophony of my screams, the onset of tears, and the occasional reprimanding slap.
But I had to empathize with her. Mother had her hands full with five lively children to look after. Dealing with my particularly stubborn hair was likely a task she could do without. She attempted to maintain it by trimming it; more often than not, she'd do the cutting herself. While these hair-cutting sessions were intimate and had their charm, her inexperience sometimes showed. The lengths would be uneven, one side shorter than its counterpart, or an unintentional bald patch at the back.
I didn't hide my displeasure, and after repeated grumbles from my end, she eventually relinquished her role as my impromptu hairdresser. For special events or when my hair became unmanageable, we'd visit the local barbershop or enlist the help of a skilled friend.
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