The Braiding Shop

The smell of hair grease. The harsh texture of the synthetic hair, also known as “horse hair.” The soft black leather seats with a small tear on each of them. The 32″ Samsung television playing the same Nollywood movie. And my mother, sitting behind one of the black leather chairs. Her right fingers holding the strands of synthetic hair, ready to braid the customers hair. Her fingers gripping tightly onto the customers kinky textured dark brown hair. The customer’s soft hiss can be heard. She is wincing in pain, as my mother begins to braid her hair and the synthetic hair together. Her fingers move swiftly until she reaches the end of the synthetic hair.

When I was younger, I loved braiding hair. I did my best to learn how to braid at the age of eleven. I would use the dolls with soft textured hair to practice. I never gave up. There was this passion, that til this day I never knew why I had it. I would practice everyday after school. I would walk to the shop from my middle school, and the excitement rushed through my body, making me walk fast. My mother let me braid the ends of the individuals (single braids). Just as fast as I can walk, I was a fast braider. And, showed off a lot. The customers would tell my mom how fast I was. I tried convincing my mom to let me braid more but she never let me. Others would tell my mom to not let me braid, and let me focus on school. As if, my love for braiding could ever exceed my love for school.

I grew up with the shop. The first shop I was in was where I learned my love for braiding. My love for Nollywood movies. My love for reading and writing. My love for the closeness I had with my mom. But it was also in the first shop, my brother and I fought, I would lose and start crying. I was a wimp. It was in the first shop my little brother would come in with a bruised face after being hit by the bullies in school. It was in the first shop I had my 10th birthday party, with a piñata full of sweets. It was in the first shop, I had my first bag of hot cheetos and fell in love. The first shop.

The second shop wasn’t so bad. But it was in the second shop where my love for braiding started to fade. My mother finally let me braid the full head. Customers started to want me to braid their hair because of how fast I was. I never talked to the customers unless they talked to me. I always had my headphones in listening to the music. I was a tight braider, gripped onto my customers hair to make the braids last longer. Vendors would come by selling African clothes and scarves. There were other vendors who sold Macy’s perfumes for a cheaper price. Then there were the hair vendors called John, Victor, and Michael. My mother would introduce me as her daughter to everyone. I would come into the second shop with my head down. I would sit in the back, either reading a book or watching something on my tablet. It was in the second shop where my relationship with my mother didn’t go so well. It was in the second shop where I considered braiding hair as a job, and my friends would laugh at me. They would tell me that braiding hair wasn’t a real job.

My love for braiding decreased, and I began to dislike it. I disliked how tired I was after braiding someone’s hair. But I pitied my mother even more. As my mother aged, the shop aged as well. Her fingers were no longer as swift as before. People are no longer coming to the professional African braiders. They are now going to YouTube to learn how to do their hair. And, I don’t blame them.

Don’t get me wrong, I still braid today. I continue to do it to help my mom. I also wouldn’t say that the passion isn’t there. It still is. But as I’m getting older, braiding is just something I do. Not something I love to do. But just something I do. However, I will never forget where braiding has gotten me. Those two shops are everything. And these memories that I have will never go away even after my love for braiding is completely gone.

Written by Diaka Thiam.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

“What will happen if I lose this person?”

Who was it that said moving on was one of the easiest things to do? No seriously, who was it?


Moving on from any type of relationship is quite interesting. I’ve done it multiple times and let me tell you, the people who are no longer in my life needed to leave. It was time for them to go. But I’m talking about moving on as if it’s an easy process. As if it is baking brownies or solving an algebra equation. No, it’s really not that easy. Moving on from anything is like separating from the things you’re used to, the things you’re attached to, and the things you know. Yet, why do we talk about it as if it’s so damn easy? Why do we go on social media and say, “It’s time to cut all these people. I’m cutting these toxic people out of my life.” HELLOO? This is easier said than done.

Think about it. You’re in a relationship/friendship with someone. They become part of your daily routine. If you’re like me, you become attached to them because you love their company. You love being around them and it gives you this constant high. Yes, it gives you this high. You become so used to this person, you don’t ever pause to think, “what will happen if I lose this person? What will happen if this person leaves me? What will happen if I no longer want this person in my life?” Or maybe you do. However, something then happens which causes you and this person to stop talking to one another. Something causes you to delete this persons number. Something causes you to block this person on all forms of social media (this is not considered to be petty). Something causes these things. And guess what?

You now have to move on.

I am currently in this weird stage of “moving on.” Recently ended a friendship and a relationship. I’m not going to lie, it feels great. Yet, I now have to readjust things in my life. The routine I had with this person is now just a memory. I don’t know how to move on. I thought I did but I think we mistake the moving on process as being easy. In this case, the process of moving on is deleting the person’s number, deleting the pictures of this person, blocking them on all forms of social media, and never talking to them again. To others, this may seem easy but is it really? What do you do with the feelings you had for this person? What happens to all the memories you had with this person?

To me, that’s not the process. I can do all that, yet it doesn’t mean I’ve moved on from this person. We sometimes forget that people come into our lives for a reason. Some come into our lives for a season and others for a long time. I’ve said this before, we learn something from every person that comes into our life, whether our experience with this person is good or bad. Moving on means taking the lessons you’ve learned from this person and using it. Moving on means focusing on the things that really matter now. Moving on means not only readjusting to things, but accepting the change that comes with it. Moving on means constantly reflecting and being aware of your emotions. Sometimes, when people are no longer in our lives, we tend to have this bitterness in our hearts. If you let this bitterness and hatred stay in your heart for a while, it will only get worse.

Someone wise once told me, “Do not make someone your world, make them part of your world.” Make the person a part of your world. I made the mistake of making this person my world. I was lost for a bit without them being in my life but I think I will be okay. I’m accepting the change that comes with ending a friendship and a relationship. You have to be able to give yourself time. Although I may feel lonely now, I’d rather feel this way than to have people who weren’t meant to be in my life stay for long. If they stayed any longer, I wouldn’t be at peace.

For you, moving on could mean something totally different. And that my friend is okay. As long as you are taking care of yourself, and are accepting of change. It’ll be okay. And you may get to a point where you want that person back in your life, but remember the why. Why they left, why you left, and why you had to move on.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”– Steve Maraboli


Written by Diaka Thiam. Thank you for reading! 🙂