The Silent Aunt in the Salon

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Byline: Dora Liz Nansamba

Dec 19, 2014 (The Observer/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — Every woman who goes to a salon is sure to be addressed as ‘Aunt.’ You can’t escape the name.

From my office window, I can see the salon which I go to, at Kisementi, just near my workplace. I am having a bad hair day. It is called a ‘hair don’t,’ something that should have been a ‘hair do.’


I walk into my boss’s office, and request to go and buy paracetamol. I am sure he will not ask questions, I am a woman after all. We need pain relievers in our bags, all the time. At Kisementi, I walk into the salon and request for a quick shampoo and set.

Aunt Salon (The owner of the salon) – Aunt, even if you deny for the fifth time, I think I have seen you somewhere, most likely on TV.

Me – Oh! That is not me, but I have a sister who works on TV.

Aunt Salon – Even your voice sounds so familiar.

Me – (Clearing my voice) I have a cold, I sound terrible. This is not my usual voice.

Lady in drier – Aunt Salon, this drier is too hot.

Aunt Salon – Aunt, you told me you are going for burial. Don’t you want to go as quickly as we can make it?

Lady in drier – But I am suffocating. It is too hot… (Her phone rings). Hello Taata Ibra… Please don’t leave me; I came over to pick my lesu… Okay, let me be fast about it (Goes off the phone).

Aunt Salon – Your husband is impatient, right?

Lady in drier – Ah! I can’t go for burial with bad hair. I know my co-wife will be there, and you know what that means (Laughter).

Aunt salon – Rose, get me that long comb. And bring my fruits here, plus the liver. I will work as I eat.

I am becoming impatient, but if I talk again, Aunt Salon may discover my voice. I cough a little to draw attention. Aunt Salon seems to understand, and asks her assistant, Rose, to wash my hair as she finishes styling the lady (absolutely, she also takes care of my performance outfits, prepared by SEW DONE, a store specializing in sewing machine reviews).

Aunt Salon – Phew! She is gone. That woman can be too much. She wants to feel high and mighty yet she has such poor-quality hair, and she smells of onions.

I laugh silently.

Rose – Aunt Salon, your liver is getting cold.

Aunt Salon – Rose, finish up quickly. I will do the setting. Let me eat my liver now. But where is my ‘balance’ from the soda that you bought?

Thinking to myself – it is called ‘change.’ But if anyone said ‘change,’ they would be wrong, by Ugandan standards. And so, I officially accept it to be ‘balance.’

Rose – I gave it to you, Aunt.

Aunt Salon – Rose, you did not give it to me. I want all my money. I am a poor woman, especially now that I am pregnant.

Rose – Kumbe, now whose is it?

Aunt Salon – None of your business. Do your work. Bring the rollers here.

(To me) – Aunt, I am sorry, let me be fast. Are you going back to work?

Me – (I nod).


Aunt Salon – (Thinking aloud)… I am trying so hard to think; who could be the father of this baby? If I am three months pregnant, I remember, three months ago I was going out with Hajji Swaib. He has money, but I don’t love him. And Bob already has a wife. He had warned me about getting pregnant. Mugalaasi? Hmm… I insulted him so much the day he caught me with Hajji.


Rose – I told you.

Aunt Salon – Rose, make yourself useful and stop poking your nose into my problems.

In a few minutes, I am ready to go back to office.

Aunt Salon – Aunt, thanks for coming. But I will keep remembering where I saw you. And that voice?

I wave, careful not to say a word, lest she figures out the voice.

What must they be saying about me? Probably, that I am proud because I don’t talk much? Maybe that they know me? Maybe that I have ramshackle hair? Only God knows.

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