When I was eighteen, I was going through what I have realised in retrospect was a rebellious phase. I was hell bent on doing anything my parents forbade. When they told me they didn’t like a friend’s piercing, I went out and got one. When my mother made a comment about a cousin who had dyed her hair red being irresponsible, I decided to dye mine blonde.
One day while watching a movie, my parents got into the conversation of tattoos belonging only on convicts. Naturally I asked if I could get one. I got the expected “God forbids” and “not in my house” and of course knew I had to get one. The only problem was, I didn’t know where anyone got tattoos done in Lagos. I did some lazy digging, didn’t come up with any tattoo parlours and soon forgot about getting one.
A couple of months after the conversation with my parents, a hair salon opened up in a little corner shop on my street. Only that it wasn’t like the regular hair salons I was used to, with their overweight madams who spent all day screaming at the under aged girls employed to get the work done. This one has an assortment of what my mother described as “colourful characters”, when she was forbidding me from getting my hair done there. I wandered into the shop one day, more out of curiosity than to spite my mother, which used to be a good enough reason for me to do anything back then. In front of the shop on a haphazardly painted placard hung above the door, the salon’s services were listed. They included “hair, nails, tattoo, pink lips, barbing, spa works and more”.
When someone in the shop asked what I came in for, for some reason I still cannot explain, I replied, “I want a tattoo.” The girl told me to take a sit and went to fetch the guy to get the job done. I knew I should have backed out the minute I saw the supposed tattooist. He was large and toutish and only gave me a once over before asking me to come with him to his “office,” which was really just a table and couch right next to the hair dryers at the back of the salon.
He thrust a catalogue of tattoos he definitely hadn’t done at me and asked me to pick one. I settled for the cliche butterfly and asked for it to be put on my lower back (tramp stamp I know.) He told me it would cost 3,500 and I agreed.
Large, toutish guy brought out his tools from one of the drawers in the table, asked me to lie on the couch and got to work. The process was more painful than I had anticipated and I kept jerking involuntarily, to which he just muttered something rude in Yoruba.
About an hour later, he was done, and led me to a mirror to take a peek at it, I burst into tears immediately and it took hours and the intervention of everyone in the salon to calm me down. My new tattoo looked nothing like a butterfly, in fact it looked nothing like anything I could describe. It was just a mess of ink black lines and curves on my back.
Unlike with every other time I had defied my parents, I hid away out of embarrassment, and I’m still saving up today waiting for an opportunity to get it removed.
Moral of the story? You probably shouldn’t get a tattoo done in a hair salon.