The heady yet pleasant fragrance of jasmine and coconut wafts upwards, teasing my nostrils and sparking a flood of memories from twenty, no, thirty years ago. Has it really been that long?
My palms are slick as the oil gently soaks into the skin yet glistens engagingly on the surface, conjuring up a thousand thoughts- of mom’s fingers running through my unruly knots, gently teasing the strands apart, making sure I didn’t wince in pain as the movements nudged my head back and forth.
One eye on the clock: as always. There wasn’t time to do it at leisure, not with two girls, each with hair that dropped all the way down to their waists. Undone hair was never an allowance at home, not when it meant hours of straightening later, without the fancy tools we find at those upscale parlours. No, our tools were the fingers at the ends of our hands.
Models in the advertisements on TV were envied. How ever did they get those long tresses that swayed and curved so tantalsingly without any tangles, ever? Did those shampoos really work as promised?
I’m brought back to the present, to the sight of my daughter’s straight and slick hair, as she waits for me to apply the oil on her dried strands. Seated behind her, I draw her close, her back fitting into the curve of my body. Leaning back with a comfortable snuggle, she rests her head on my chin. Gently, nudging it forward, I run my fingers through the roots , inhaling the odour of coconut as it fills my senses.
Removing the knots, those tiny twisted strands that have made themselves at home inside her hair, I finally satisfy myself by combing down from the top of the head to the tip of the hair, watching as it glides in poetic smoothness through the surface. All done, I pull delicately on her shoulders and let her snuggle against me and I read a book over her shoulder, my cheek resting against hers.
And I smile.
There’s something therapeutic about combing someone else’s hair.
*I’ve been reading a lot on writing styles and am trying to experiment with a few, especially in the realm of non-fiction and memoirs. This piece I read touched upon using our memories to enhance our writing.