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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My barber and my dandruff!!!!!!!!

No, I don’t have dandruff. And I know I don’t have dandruff because my wife, who should be the first to complain if I have dandruff, is not complaining. And there is no itch on my head, which I understand is a symptom of dandruff. So in summary, in totality and finality, I don’t have dandruff. But my barber insists I do.

You see, my barber is quite popular with ‘honourable’ heads. At the salon the other day, I bumped into an honourable member of the National Assembly; and the other other day a couple of honourable Commissioners. So all in all, my barber does some brisk business with top heads. And because the price of a haircut is fixed, and not every customer remembers to leave a tip, my barber has to invent more ways of survival. His fundraising way with me is with my ‘dandruff’. Almost every time I go to have a haircut, the first thing he says when he reaches near my scalp is that “Alhaji, you have dandruff.”

It began like a joke. I would laugh and say, “Hey, I don’t have dandruff!” Then he would scrape my scalp and show me some powdery white stuff: my very dandruff. So I gave up resisting. The third time he said I had dandruff, I said, “Yeah, yeah, I have dandruff, and it’s killing me. What do I do about it?” He had the right remedy: a big bottle of hair shampoo which he assured would do away with the irritant in no time: “Just rub in at every shower and you are bye-bye to dandruff”, he said. So I bought the hair shampoo on which was written Head and Shoulders. (I still wonder what my shoulders had to do with it). I took it home but actually never got round to using it; so convinced I was that I had no dandruff for a start, but not for a finish. And that was the beginning of my travails.

At the next visit, he commended the healing process of my dandruff, but announced with a flourish that yet another, better, remedy had come into town. This time, it was an ointment which you would rub into your scalp after every morning shower. Rather than argue, I bought the stuff. And took it home. And put it on the side of the big bottle of shampoo on the shoulder of my bathroom mirror. Out of curiosity I one day opened the ointment bottle to smell the content; it was so strongly ghastly I nearly threw up, and so threw it away.

A couple of weeks later, I went back to my barber. All this time I had not used any of those remedies. Yet he complimented me for a job well done: my dandruff (which I knew never existed), had all but disappeared, he commended. So I was on my guard for any further recommendations he would make. Lo and behold, he offered an after-dandruff rub which, he claimed, would ensure it never came back. I bought up and gave up.

Over the few years I have been a ‘patient’ patient at this dandruff ‘surgery’, I had been coaxed into buying an ear- and nose-hair trimmer (“the perfect thing for busy people such as you Alhaji”). And he recommended a new apron, and a new set of clippers. By the time he was done with me, my bathroom had as many gadgets as he had in his show glass. Over the course of a few years, my barber has made me buy a range of hair-care products I can well do without. So far I have several shampoos, a couple of ointments, a set of brushes, two clippers, a napkin, an apron (yes, including an apron), and that ear- and nose-hair trimmer which needs batteries that I haven’t come round to buying. Simple predatory marketing, I must admit, but I was the fool for it.

So how did I fall into this trap? I am otherwise quite a thrifty person with my scarce resources, yet look at this barber who has made sure he parted me with my hard-earned money over time. He must have something which I don’t. On closer scrutiny, I found that the one who holds your head (and has a weapon to hand) brooks no argument. So it was instinctive buying.

So there is no conflict at the top of my head. As there is no conflict at the top of our national government. If the top is at peace, the bottom should fare well. So it is with concern that I warn people who look at our top man and comment, “Kai! This guy really looks ill”, to sheath their swords, or clippers, as the case may be. Who said he is unwell? Is he complaining to you? Is she complaining? So what is your own commenting where you are not required to comment? As there is no conflict on my head, there cannot be conflict at the nation’s top. People just scrape some powdery white stuff and claim it is dandruff. It is not.

Even if I had dandruff, come to think of it, was I complaining? But the barber had this scary theory that, left untreated, dandruff can descend into one’s eyes, and one’s teeth. Fie! If dandruff can sit unobtrusively on my head without the head-owner complaining, why can’t our top guy sit safely on his seat? The nation is not complaining of any itching and/or scratching on its head. The head is perfect.

Therefore, O my barber, just leave my dandruff alone. I am not complaining. We are not complaining whether the top man looks ill or doesn’t; whether he is up and doing, or down and undoing. There is no conflict whatsoever. My dandruff only affects me. So let him be. And let my dandruff be.

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