Thirty-One

The number of months my hair was last touched by a comb.

Balpolam Idi
5 min readNov 1, 2023

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The decision to loc my hair was a well premeditated thing, but until it was done, I wasn’t sure I’d see it through. I had a thousand and one concerns, but I knew deep down, that it was how I wanted my hair to be. It was how I wanted to express myself. Also, it wasn’t me who was going to die in Abuja because of unreal hair-making prices and painful sores from wicked hairdressers. Nope. I travelled to Jos and told Era to put my hair in place. I was joining the dread gang. And that was that. I did my hair the day after my induction into the teaching profession. It was a long sit, but I believe it was worth it.

Now at first, I must confess that I was quite disappointed and even ashamed, of how what I used to think of as a sizable amount of hair and a decent length was just shrunk into some thin tendrils that had knots at the tips. I told him those knots made my hair shorter, but he promised that if I wanted to take them out after two years as I said I would, that was the best way to do it. Toh, in Era we trust. I just want to take this time to appreciate Gentle (God rest his soul), the one with the gentlest touch and who made me fall in love with locs the first time I did it in 2017.

If you’ve ever locked your hair, I would like to know what your initial reaction was. Mine was disappointment that quickly turned to shame. The hair was standing on ends like wet strands of a cat’s fur and it obscenely liked being erect, when it should be lying low. I used lots and lots of products to keep it in check in those early days. You should know that I’m scared of product build-up but for this, I was willing to take that risk. Soon enough, I just dulled the shame at the back of my mind. I behaved as I did when I got a bad haircut in 2008. E don happen. There’s nothing I could do about it, so why bother?

I decided to wear my hair in the best way possible. And as often as I went back to Jos from Abuja during that period, I had Era style it in a different way. They became my little pockets of surprise because, at that time, I thought my world was falling apart little did I know it was more in store for me.

Lovia and I, rocking our locs

Fast forward to when my locs grew long enough for me to pack them in a bun. I was ecstatic. But because I still had to travel to another country, it was installations that I put in my hair the night before. I truly was sceptical about my hair care in Ghana, but thank God for Lovia. She shared her hairdresser, Auntie Maggie, with me and I can swear that’s the best person to have touched my hair in my entire life. She was sweet as she was gentle, yes a little gossip here, but mostly quiet. It might have been the language barrier but I think it was more than that. Auntie Maggie is wise and always deeply reflective. Every time she took a pair of scissors to my hair to snip stray strands, I’d tell her ‘No, I hope to unravel my locs please don’t cut them’ She would sigh with impatience and exasperation then swirl to show me hers. ‘Can you see my locs? They are 4 years old. Don’t you want yours to get this long? And the person who did your hair was thorough, it’s neat. I love it, it’s gorgeous. Why do you want to take it out?’

Check out the fine girl and the fine hair

I told her I made a pact with myself but she didn’t understand. Auntie Maggie, I’m sorry oh, I don commot am. My sister and I were having a chat over the weekend, and we talked about how women change their hair as a sign of changing seasons in their lives or if something dramatic has occurred, the hair tells a similar story. I have transitioned. I miss my locs but it was time for me to emerge again. From the shadows and comfort of the familiar. I got used to it. To being profiled for my dreadlocks, being mislabelled, being misunderstood and I loved it as much as it stressed me. Here, I talked about the ‘origin’ of locs and why we need to make peace with this part of us. The piece is called The Locs you Dread. You should give it a read.

Today, I am thankful for a gravity-defying hair that does whatever it wants and demands to be cared for and nurtured peculiarly. I am thankful for my friend Melissa and her brand HairComesLissa, for helping me grow my hair and treat it with the kindness it deserves. I am sensing a new season on the horizon and my 100 locs have been companions for all these months. However, I’ve had to say goodbye and welcome the feel of a comb in my hair. Someone screamed about how he had only known me with locs and if I took them out, he doesn’t know who I’d be. I chuckled and retorted, ‘Still me. The one with unbound hair.’

What do you need to let go of? Are you holding on to things long overdue? Why? I didn’t keep to my word and let my hair free after 24 months, but I knew somehow, it had to happen. Better late than never dear reader. Instead of beating yourself up about unmet goals, maybe it is time to re-strategize and give it another shot. I hope you find the Courage to Change as Sia sang. May light guide you and love lead you.

Last days with my hair bound and at full length.

Welcome to November.✨🤗 I pray you are encouraged to shed off the things that you’ve held on to so tightly but are due for a change. I hope this month breathes courage into you and spurs you to action. May your struggles bring you near the cross and your challenges show you that God is good in all seasons. What is that thing you’ve wanted to do for a long time but have been procrastinating? Mine in dyeing my hair grey or a scandalous shade of wine. How about you? Look forward to hearing from you in the comments as always. Till then, flourish.

Love, Ballie 💖

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Balpolam Idi

Live, Love, Give. But most importantly, Dream. Learner. Teacher. Wanderer.