A new series is kicking off today, it should have kicked off yesterday but life happened. For now, it is centered around a young woman who is dealing with a major loss in her life, I might just change my mind about that tomorrow. I struggled on what to call the series, nothing seemed to fit… The only word I kept coming back to was rainbow, maybe because I’d written a Rainbow Series once upon a time… or maybe not. Anyway enjoy part one of this series and let me know your thoughts on it. Criticisms are highly welcomed too! They might not be accepted 😉 but they are welcome.
SHADOW OF A RAINBOW
My name is Bilquis Ademola, however almost everyone calls me Biliki. I hate Biliki but I can’t do anything about their insistence on the name. Isn’t it annoying how people in Lagos spoil beautiful Arabic names? From Mariam to Moriam or Moriamo, Aisha to Aishatu, Amina to Aminatu or Ameeno. I could just scream! You might not understand just how annoying I find it, after all it isn’t your name they’re spoiling, is it?
I am called Bilquis at work, work is a big hair salon and spa in Lagos, one of those places where rich women come to show off and oppress each other. Men come here too, they call themselves metrosexuals (God knows what that means) and they are even more fussy than the females with their penchant for oatmeal facials and daily massages.
Speaking of massages, my best friend Ogechukwu is a massager here. Sorry! The word is masseuse, thank God Manager did not hear me say massager. People have lost their jobs for lesser things around here.
“We have to talk through our noses around here, in other to attract upscale clientele”. You can tell that those words aren’t mine, our manager says a lot of things that coat the brain and you find yourself parroting his words even in your thoughts. If I slipped up and spoke in the speech patterns of my childhood and my neighbourhood, I’d probably lose my job on the spot.
How did Biliki get a job in Optima salon and spa? I swear the story of my life would make a bestseller book and high grossing film, higher than Thirty days in Atlanta even. Have you watched the movie? When I entered senior secondary school, I was immediately placed as an apprentice in Iya Risika’s salon. It wasn’t unusual, most of my classmates were doing the same thing too. After school we would rush home to change and do assignments before heading to work, it brought pocket money for us and we learnt the skills that would feed us for life. Tertiary education was not in the cards for us, Lagos state made secondary education free in public schools and it was even hard to buy uniforms and textbooks.
“Bilqis your husband is coming” Jane’s giggle cut into my thoughts.
I hissed beneath my breath as I watched William Braithwaite Cruz (III) saunter out of the back seat of his G-wagon. He stood to study his reflection on the tinted window and smiled as he lightly stroked his lush beard.
My job is to condition hair; I do all the deep conditioning, steaming and simple conditioning treatments. I also condition beards and it is the most dangerous and lucrative part of my job, those beard gang rich kids come all the time. Many times as I apply conditioner on some young man’s chin, he would try to slitter his hands up my blouse. Over time I perfected a system that prevents them access to my breasts but that doesn’t stop them from trying and from tipping well, that’s the lucrative part because we get to keep our tips.
“Where is sexy Bilquis?” He asked in his posh voice as he entered the salon area. All the other girls and some of the guys too, giggled and I swore that I’d kill them one by one, slowly.
“I am getting my tools ready” I answered from the storage area where I had sat to eat cake, gather my thoughts and from where I had watched him approach.
“I have missed you Bilquis” he waited until I was halfway through before he spoke.
“Don’t talk, do you want conditioner to get into your mouth” was my stern reply.
“For you, it is worth it” he drawled and I rolled my eyes.
I was preparing Mrs Owonikoko’s (not real name) hair for steaming when I felt soft hands trying to massage my shoulders.
“Your shoulders are too tense, and you even work in a spa. You should get a massage or something“. WBC the third breathed in my left ear
Rich people can be so clueless, I should get a massage indeed. When I have money to earn? Do I blame the mumu? Has he worked a day in his pampered life?
“Who is that stupid idiot who is distracting you” my client’s shrill voice blasted through my musing and his soft fingers stilled their inept massage.
“Let me see his face, the irresponsible fellow” she bellowed.
“Good afternoon Mummy Titi” he said with a smile.
“William omo mi, bawo lara?” her voice softened
“I am very well Ma, I didn’t know you come here too”
“Anyone who is Someone in this Lagos comes here” she replied.
“How is your fiancee?”
“Mummy Titi, you know I do not even have a girlfriend. I am too busy for women right now”
“But you are not too busy to chase this salon worker right?” she said archly and they both laughed that contented laugh that is exclusive to private jet owners.
“You can go to the steamer now” I said with thinly disguised impatience.
“Will your mother be in Lagos this week? I’m having a mini lunch party on my husband’s yacht on Thursday and I want to invite her”
“I don’t know Ma, I live in my own place now”.
“Aren’t you a little too young for that? Besides wouldn’t your mother be lonely in that big house?”
My phone rang, my ringtone is the chorus of Olamide’s Eyan Mayweather and it always attracts attention. I walked to a quieter corner to answer my sister’s phone call.
“Egbon mi kilonshele?” My sister would not call me in the middle of my working hours if something wasn’t happening.
“Biliki, Baba says you should come and see him before he departs”
“I am on my way”
I don’t know if I hung up or if she did, I was racing to the manager’s office to get permission to go home.
“I can’t just let you go like that” he said when I told him I wanted permission to go home.
“This is a serious place of business and not a local salon” he continued.
“My grandfather, the man who raised me and my siblings is dying and I have to see him before he dies. Will you give me permission or do I have to cut off your tongue to get it”
“You can go” he replied and gestured to the door with a tortured smile on his face.
“Thank you Sir” I reply and walk out of Optima into the fierce Lagos sunshine without a word to anyone.