by Olaide Oluwafunmilayo Soaga (Features Editor, Afrihill Press)
As a poet, what is your writing process?
My writing process is the same regardless of the genre. It goes one of two ways after a profound thought worth exploring comes to mind. Sometimes, I ignore it and refuse to write until it’s fully formed. Other times, I write down the idea and scraps of any relative thoughts, then return to edit later. I am not the type of writer who sits down for a dedicated number of hours to write daily. It’s unrealistic for me. Moreso, the most tasking part of my writing is editing and revisions to make a single clear meaning of a piece.
For example, yesterday, I had an idea for a poem about the devil as a designer and jotted down the punchlines that came to mind. Then, during my break today, I spent an hour reading aloud repeatedly and editing until it was unified, concise, and coherent to pass the intended point.
Do you enjoy poems that convey opinions you disagree with?
What matters in my principles of knowledge acquisition is if I understand what the other person or work is communicating; if it is reasonable, meaningful, and applicable. Especially knowing how feelings are highly unreliable and implicated by other things happening in a person’s life, I don’t think it’s fair to oversimplify my reaction or relationship to any work of art or literature to my ability to enjoy it whether I agree or disagree with the opinions it conveys. Ultimately, I like to be conscious of what the creator is trying to achieve (if such information is available) and if it aligns with the outcomes of my engagement with the work.
Before you think it aloud, let me help you. A woman’s hair is her glory. But you looked pretty with your long hair. For how long will you keep cutting it? Wear wigs. How will a man find you attractive with a bald head? Is this not your 3rd time cutting your hair all over again? By all means, insert all other opinions here; you’re allowed and I’m not mad at it.
Now that we’ve gotten that over with… I am always surprised by people who don’t have intrusive thoughts. It doesn’t make sense to me that a person would feel safe or sane in our world without an invisible panel of judges, accurate timekeepers, and fellow co-debaters having a badass conversation in their head. Call it intuition, the holy spirit, vibes, angels, your ancestors, chakra, or whatever. I gave into mine when I walked into the barber’s shop for the third time in seven years to cut all my hair off because I am tired of O.T. and Young Dolph singing “Cut it, cut it, cut it, skrrr” every time I loosen my damn hair! Resisting the urge to cut my hair is the biggest temptation that has held me on chokehold this year.
I know my forehead looks like a quarter-life-crises at the moment but give me a minute; you won’t be able to differentiate me from Lupita Nyong’o. But on a serious note, my dislike for hair has shown me shege and almost consumed me this year. Unlike the previous times when I’ll make my hair and go into the mirror to find Beyonce, I didn’t feel happy about my hair for most of this year despite it being long and full.
My worst experience with hair was spending almost $250, including transit fare and 4+ hours to make twists at a salon, then returning home with a heavy chest because the hairdresser didn’t get the exact style I wanted. Around that time, I was dedicated to my fit-fam (gym) life and needed a hairstyle to throw into a ponytail when I didn’t want to stress in the morning. The most annoying part was that the hair stylist made it long-short enough to have a pony coccyx when I tried to pack it up.
And yes, you guessed right. I am that non-confrontational introvert who would rather cry in private than express myself to anyone on my sabbatical voiceless weekends, even if they are doing me dirty. The following days after that hairdo, I spent almost every morning in front of the mirror, turning the twist strands from left to right, trying to find a perfect alignment with its 4-6 weeks destiny while resisting the urge to yank $250 out of my scalp. It only lasted 2 weeks before I gave it an eviction notice.
To disappoint you further, I am one of God’s favorites who knows how to braid my hair. While I take pride in this, I just cannot can anymore. Sometimes I end up sitting overnight shift while metaphorically watching all 20+ seasons of Grey’s Anatomy as I build my shoulder muscles with pain. So, if you see me looking like bob the builder in 2023 and you’ll like to know my recipe, it is braiding hair with two mirrors perfectly angled to see the backyard of my head.
Can we talk about slicking edges too? I’m ashamed to say I’ve slicked my edges more mornings than I’ve read my bible this year, and that has to stop. In addition, all the years of letting hard-hand stylists pull and tug my edges are finally catching up with me. So, before I become a bald sibling to the egg that broke the internet, I am taking matters into my own hands.
And for the one thinking, “she’s trying to be like a man,” who am I to argue against your conviction? You know what? You’re right. I have always been envious of men’s luxury to pour water on their heads anytime they want! I have also been super jealous of the fact that looking that good in their natural state costs only about $30-$80 when they visit the barber’s shop. Even the best treatment my head and hair have gotten this year was at the barber’s shop. As the dude washed my coconut head, he asked almost every minute if the water was the right temperature, unlike the last hair-dressing salon where the lady yanked my hair with a comb and hair dryer mercilessly to “straighten it” for cornrows while the fume and heat filled the small room. Of course, my non-confrontational introvert ass sat there, mute and obliged because this isn’t the first time something like this will happen at a salon.
While I am building new relationships, I am also breaking old ones. I mean, the lustful affair between my skin and hair products birthing acne. I’ve had lesser acne every time I cut my hair. While my acne cleared up before I cut my hair this time, anyone who has suffered from acne for over 10 years will understand my pain when I say I’ll take smooth skin over hair any day and any time. It’s a non-negotiable! Plus, nothing compared to the relief of dressing the day after cutting my hair, and I didn’t have to look at my two big, full cupboards with all types of hair oils, sprays, gels, clips, headbands, shampoos, conditioners, wigs, flat iron, and hair dryers to decide if I will possess Tina Turner or Ariana Grande for the day!
I can crack jokes all day about being a #freckledbaldie. However, all jokes aside, I’ve been the happiest with my almost bald head in the past week than I’ve been with a head full of hair this year. Every time I think of the sum of money I’ve spent on hairstyles, weaves, and wigs I’ve disliked this year, I think of that vacation I should have gone to, that bougee restaurant where I could have eaten my soul out, or books I could have bought. Even, when my friends saw me recently, most of their responses were “you’ve been saying you want to cut it for a while now.” I’m definitely that person who says something they really want 50+ times before having the guts to do it. Lord knows, I almost clogged the ears of anyone listening with my rant about wanting to cut my hair.
Will I miss having a bush on my head, and will I grow it back? Absolutely yes, but right now, I feel free and happy. Maybe once in a while, I’ll bring Labisi, Halima, and Turaya, my favorite wigs out – yes, I name them. But for now, I don’t have to plan a weekend around my hair. I can exercise as much as I want without worrying the sweat will make my hair stink. I can pour water on my head mid-day if I feel overwhelmed. I can use my money to eat well and be satisfied. I can also play ping pong with my head nonstop when I am bored. Lest I forget, the characters in my head now have better access to oxygen - #Climatechange lol!
Cheers to being a #freckledbaldie in 2023!
In high school, we had a house mistress that many students disliked. As unruly high school seniors, we were bent on frustrating her by breaking the rules, such as not returning to the hostel by the required time, making noise or moving around excessively during siesta, and more. One of the final straws was when this house mistress’ room was “mysteriously” flooded. If you think hell is hot, try being a house mistress to a bunch of raging high school seniors. Eventually, the news broke that the house mistress had resigned from the job and packed her things.
I vividly remember the day she was leaving. She waited in the sick bay, and I stopped by. We talked briefly, and she told me that she thought I was one of the “good students” and that I should continue being good. I thanked her for all she did for us within her capacity and wished her farewell. In the following days, the guilt that ravished me wasn’t tiny. While I wasn’t actively participating in the antics to torture her out of her job, I was fully aware of most of my peers' plans. The part that ate me up the most was that because of my introverted nature, she didn’t think I was one of the “bad students.” Unfortunately, this won’t be the first, and neither would it be the last when someone would look at me or observe me and make an untrue assumption.