VIII: The Cornrow Chronicles

October sprinted by, leaving an easily forgotten sprinkle of tired maroons, oranges, and yellows that almost grayed out of fall fatigue. The season had been late coming and already, the trees seemed forlorn, ready to shed their leaves and bow out into hibernation. Something was chasing fall, a bad dream it seemed. Only the maple tree at the corner of Lockwood drive stood resolute, its blazing tangerine sending off reminders of good things that stay. The tree observed the approaching neighbor who jogged by every morning, saluted the drop of sweat sitting above his left eye, held delicately by sagging strands of eye-lashes swaying ever so slightly with unrelenting determination. Conspiratorially, the tree blocked off a soft gush of morning breeze so it did not reach the jogger’s face, else it would have knocked off the sweat drop from its eye-lash hammock. In all things unobserved, nature is a relay of conscious happenstance that crochet the intricate warp and weft of life. Had the sweat drop tumbled into the runner’s eye just at the moment the breeze came through, it would have stung him with its salty river, caused him to blink, raise his hand to rub off the irritation, hit his foot against the raised edge of a pavement brick, twisted his ankle, keeled over, spent the day at home nursing a heavily bandaged foot, and missed a life-defining moment at work. Lenana jogged on disappearing round the corner, completely oblivious of the maple tree’s saving grace. Half an hour later, he was back home.

Sendeyo dug his little knees in his crib from his back-side-up fetal position, stuck his right cheek flat on the mattress and watched his father dress up for work.

“Dadda” he called out, using up all the vocabulary he had learnt in his three and a half years on earth. Lenana turned around and smiled at his son. He had a problem, or so his mother insisted. It was not normal that a three year old could neither walk nor talk. His father said wait, his time will come. He himself had learnt to speak and walk late. How late, his wife, Shanni had asked. Four, Lenana had responded. Four?! Yes, four, he insisted.

“You lie.”

“This is the last time you get to call me a liar, woman!”

“You’d be a moron if it took you that long to learn to speak. O, well, on second thoughts…”

“On second thoughts what?”

Shanni had looked at him defiantly, but refused to finish her thought out loud.

“Get out of my way.” Lenana had shoved her, grabbed his shirt, and made to leave.

“This is the last time you get violent with me, Mandingo!”

“Violent? Ha! Call the police.”

“What kind of a father are you? You refuse to take your son to the best doctors. Money is not your problem, and the kids have excellent insurance. You run off to the bar every time I bring this up.”

“I said the boy is alright. You can’t just pop a pill for every problem. That’s your American way.”

“And your African way is to bury your head in the sand? I found information about a new therapy available and you refused to give it the slightest thought. Why? Doesn’t your son deserve the best? Your work is more important. Always your work!”

“How many doctors have we taken Sendeyo to, eh? Six. Six! How many types of therapies has he tried? Nine! All kinds. Including a shrink. A shrink for a child who doesn’t speak! Bloody hell, Shanni. He is healthy. Stop killing him with medication.”

“Killing him? Now I’m killing my son?” Her voice had gone low, her eyes had started welling up, and her agitation had started rising faster than a California fire. Lenana had known it was time to step out. Shanni’s emotions had become dangerously unstable, causing her to scream at him for hours on end until he left the house. The tantrum was always followed by three days of deafening silence when she would be completely mute, moving around the house like a zombie. The first time Lenana had noticed Sendeyo go into a tantrum, followed by a period of disturbing calm, he had shuddered at how similar his son’s behavior mirrored his mother’s. He was sorry he had shoved her… for the second time.

Sendeyo’s twin brother, Sakaja, or Tes as the rest called him, came running into his parent’s room, relieving his father of a bad memory. Lenana opened up his arms and Tes ran into them, sticking bread crumbs and jam all over his father’s white shirt.

“Ooh, son. Now I can’t go to work in my favorite shirt anymore.”

“Why, daddy?”

“Come, pick me a clean one.” He carried his son to the closet.

“This one! This nice.”

“Yellow shirt, huh? Ok, this one it is. You let daddy dress up now.” He put the child down and started to remove the soiled shirt. From the corner of his eyes he caught Tes reaching out for his brother’s hand and shake it, humming a song he probably picked from Sesame Street. Something about that image would stay stuck in Lenana’s memory for the rest of his life. He quickly picked up his briefcase, kissed his sons goodbye and made his way out towards the main door.

Shanni met him in the living room as she picked up the boy’s toys.

“Don’t forget to call the talent academy for Tes. They start the winter session in three weeks.” She said as he kissed her goodbye.

“Ok.” He did not want to remember. He had been through this talent academy fight as well, and had made the wise choice to lose. Shanni thought her son had hidden talent as an actor and a singer. The thought of it made Lenana laugh out loud just as he started his car. Let the child be a child is what she should do. In two years he would be going to school. Sendeyo too, he was sure. He did not allow himself to think otherwise. Sendeyo, his favorite, his quiescent lion waiting to pounce. Sakaja needed no help becoming a man.

The drive to work was eventless. He enjoyed getting to work, savored the rush, calculation and risk of being a stock broker for Crichton and Pfeiffer.

“Hey, Lenana. Be ready for your presentation in a half.” His colleague, Matthew, stuck his head into Lenana’s office.

“In a half?? It’s supposed to be in the afternoon.” He protested.

“I don’t make the rules. It’s posted on the board. What’s with the yellow shirt?”

“My son picked it.”

“Dude, how did you get to own a yellow shirt anyway?”

“My wife bought it.”

“Does she know you hate it?”

“I’m sure she does. I’ve never worn it before.”

“It’s kind of nice though. You ought to be more… appreciative of fine things, jungle warrior, you!”

Lenana stopped what he was doing and looked angrily at his friend.

“Matt, don’t you ever say that again.” Matthew was a tad puzzled.

“What did I say?”

“Don’t act dumb. You’re one step away from a lawsuit.”


“You heard me.”

“Geez. Touchy.” And with that, Matthew disappeared to his office next door and left Lenana putting together his presentation.

He knew all was not going too well with Lenana. The last time they had a drink after work, Lenana had confided in Matthew about too much pressure from relatives in Africa to take the children home, send money to cover school fees for a string of cousins, medical expenses for various uncles, clothes for aunts, et cetera, et cetera. His wife added to the pressure, having dreamt of a trip to the motherland since they got married six years ago. Only Lenana has never come around to explaining to her how things really were in the Maasai kingdom where, in Shanni’s mind, the Laibon ruled over exotic subjects who sang and danced endlessly, the women throwing their colorful beads up and down long elegant necks, the surrounding giraffes gliding past with graceful majesty, the lion roaring close by, its mane shimmering in the savannah breeze. She believed in this, she wanted to be a part of it, she wanted to be welcomed to Africa with pomp and circumstance and embraced by a people she believed she was destined to call her own. Lenana never let her know of the conversations he had with his relatives in letters and emails that he tore up or deleted. He did not wish to stay in touch with them; in fact, he wished they would all together forget him. All except his mother, the only person he could swim the oceans for, the only person who has never bothered to find him since she deserted the family when he was only a teenager.

All this, Matthew knew about. He would try and find out what was disturbing Lenana after work, see if he could be of any help. Lenana had become the closest thing to a brother. Matthew kept his own thoughts about race to himself. He felt Lenana did not come with the tiresome baggage other black men seemed to carry around. He was different, and Matthew appreciated that. If only the world could be colorblind, stop hating on the white man for success that he worked so hard for, making him feel guilty for moving up the ladder. As far as Matthew was concerned, slavery was gone, and the black man had no excuse not to compete and get up the same ladder as he did. They had free education through high school just like everyone else, same opportunities to work and get into college, start businesses, heck, they had welfare too. Far as he could see, they wore more expensive shoes than he did, drove around in flashy cars, could afford to have a bunch of babies all over the place, drink and drug themselves up with abandon, whip up a song, play basketball and dance their way to millions, and wear gold teeth that competed with the mines of Johannesburg. Really, the playing ground was lopsided against the white man! Why those black men were so angry, foul and unfriendly was a total mystery to Matthew. He kept his distance from making friends with any of them even at work. The company had a select number of cleaned-up black men, well-educated brilliant accountants they were, but black all the same. He only smiled at them to keep the peace. But Lenana was different. And Matthew knew why. He was from Africa; intrinsically, he knew his place.


Shanni’s younger brother, Crush, had moved back to Minnesota about four months ago. He had left for Washington DC almost a year after the twins were born, on account of his fights with Lenana, but more because he needed the feel of “home”, and only Baltimore where he grew up gave him that comfort. Chris, his childhood friend who lived in DC, a short drive from Baltimore, invited him back to the place he called home, or at least as close as he could get to Baltimore.

In DC, it had not taken Crush long to find his niche, earning money doing something not quite illegal. His friend and housemate, Chris, was a charming eighth grade teacher who had an addiction for books; he did not care what his friend did as long as he wasn’t pushing drugs in his apartment. Mostly, Chris saw Africans come in, especially French-speaking, and Crush would introduce these Africans to a new friend. The Africans would come with paperwork that they placed on the table. Crush and his new friend would sign on some dotted line. Money would change hands, and in a few days, the same scenario would be reenacted with new faces. It had not taken long for Chris to find out what Crush was trading in.

“I got a proposition for you, bro,” said Crush one day.

“What?” asked Chris.

“I got a lady. She needs papers, you know. I don’t have a man for her right away, see. But you here, see, you single and all. I hook her up with you. She pay me and you get a cut. That’s how it works.”

“What kind o…” Chris looked at him and burst out laughing. “Maan, you out of your mind!”

“Hey, this is serious business. Now, I been makin’ bookoo money here. But business slowing down. My stock running low.”

“You mean you’re running out of spouses for sale.”

“Ain’t like that! It’s respectable people now.”

“Is what you’re doing even legal?”

“Ain’t illegal either. Brother tryin’ to make it, a’aight. I helped a lot of them Af’cans get they paper work straight. That count for something good, don’t it?” Chris thought about it, then once again burst out laughing.

“You crazy, maan. You do your thing. But I have a good job and I need to stay straight.”

“It’s cool, it’s cool.” Crush sighed. “Hey, I ain’t mad at you. I know you always got my back anyhow. Don’t mess up yo’ shit man. I’ma make this work, but if you got a friend, hook a brother up, ok?”

Crush’s funny business had come crushing, leaving him broke and disillusioned. He hated to leech on Chris, and even more, he hated to ask Shanni for help, yet again. He took the more hateful choice. No one, not even he himself, understood the functioning of Crush’s mind.

One day, he opened his closet to pick out a hat for the day, for he had never been without a hat, no matter the season – and suddenly, it came upon him to start a business selling hats, Crush Tops, is what he would call it. He now had a legitimate reason for asking his sister for a loan.

Shanni had flatly refused, reminding him that he had never succeeded in any venture, except making trouble. But one sleepless night, Shanni decided to give her brother another chance, on her terms. She would lend him the money, get an accounting of its progress every week, and if it showed promise after three months, she would boost the loan. All this on condition that he relocate again to Minnesota. Crush was crushed. He would suffocate for sure, he insisted. Take it or leave it, Shanni said. He left for Minnesota kicking and screaming. Shanni rejoiced; finally, she had someone close by she could count on whenever she needed a babysitter.

“You go back there and make the best of it, bro,” Chris had said to his childhood friend, and his last words, “Tell Shan I’m still waiting.”

Crush knew what Chris meant.

Now four months later, Crush was beginning to do well in Minnesota, thanks to Shanni’s self-serving “Saving Crush” Marshall plan that included two months of paid rent for his apartment and the use of an old car she kept parked in the garage.

Shanni wrote a weekly column on art and culture that ran in the Twin Cities Review and was well paid for it. She never needed to use her money for anything, Lenana having insisted on doing his manly duty of supporting his family in everything financial. Her savings were substantial and she could afford to take risks. Lenana never cared what his wife did with her money. His worries about her had everything to do with false expectations and false projections about the emotional health of their lives.

Lenana never saw eye-to-eye with his brother in-law, Crush. The only reason he tolerated him was because the children loved him. Sendeyo was always calm around him, sometimes even seeming to increase his vocabulary by a word or two. How such a shady character could be that good with children was beyond his understanding. Lenana had made it clear to Crush that no foul language was allowed in his home. Secretly, Crush had taught Tes what he called a “fun” word and told him never to say it in front of his father. Tes liked that he shared a small secret word with his uncle. It tickled him so. Whenever uncle Crush came around, Tes would mouth the word silently and Crush would fall to the ground in gales of laughter, making Tes scream out with excitement.

On this fall day when the maple tree had saluted Lenana as he jogged by, Shanni needed Crush urgently.

“Please, could you leave the shop briefly? Get Patricia to run things for an hour or so. I need you to baby sit.”

“Come on, Shan…”

“Please, Crush, it’s urgent. I just found out there’s this ambassador in town and I need to interview him for my next article before he leaves.”

“You gotta find a real baby sitter now. Tired of you doing this to me!”

“I really need this.”

“Can’t you write about some festival or something?”

“No. This is important.”

Crush was quiet. Then it came to him. “Hmm. Would this be the Kenyan ambassador by any chance?” Shanni was silent. “Huh? Yeah, I thought so.” She could hear him sigh. “Shan, why you do this to yourself?”

“Crush, you coming or not?”

“Damn, girl. Alright. I’m on my way.”

Crush arrived at his sister’s home and got down to babysitting the twins with natural ease while taking his business calls on his cell phone. His own transformation had puzzled him. He could not believe he was running a legitimate business successfully.

He watched Sendeyo sleep and absent-mindedly placed his hand on the boy’s big afro. This kid never like getting haircuts. Without thinking, Crush picked up the boy, slowly placed him on his lap and started braiding his hair as painlessly as he could. Sendeyo slept through the entire process. By the time he was done, the boy had eight cornrows running neatly down to his nape with little tails wiggling at the ends. Crush inspected his handiwork and liked the effect.

“Oh, you little thug. Wait till your father sees you. Not gon’ be around for that explosion.” He placed Sendeyo back in his crib and prepared to leave soon as his sister got home.

The front door opened and Shanni came in.

“So, was is worth it?” Crush asked. She avoided looking at him. “What, you didn’t meet him?”

“Oh, I did.” She wasn’t offering any more information. Crush wasn’t pushing. He needed to leave.

“Gotta go. The boys still asleep.”

“Thanks.” She went on with her business, completely caught up in her thoughts. Instinctively, Crush felt a storm brewing in his sister’s head. He let himself out quickly.


“Crush! What did you do?!” Shanni was standing at the front door shouting at Crush who was still in the parking lot about to get back to his shop.


“You braided Sendeyo’s hair! How could you? How could you?? I can’t believe you did a stupid thing like this! I could kill you!”

“It’s just a few cornrows, what’s the big deal? The boy slept through it all!” Crush shouted back.

“I don’t like that kind of stuff, and certainly NOT on my boys! Never, ever do that again.”

“Shan, Shan! Get yourself together. Cornrows are not a disease. Just take them off if you don’t like them, alright?”

“That’s not the point. You came here and did a thing I hate, and to my kid! You betrayed me. You violated my flesh and blood!”

“Wow, wow, wow… hold it right there now, Ms. Violated…” Crush came back towards the front door. He’s never seen his sister like this.

“Don’t hold-it-right-there me, Crush. You did a senseless thing. I want you to come right back and undo what you did while he’s still asleep!”

“I can’t. I’ve got work to do… huh?” he thought she was being silly now. He started walking back to his car. Just the, Lenana pulled in to the driveway. “Oh shit,” Crush cursed. He wasn’t going to run like a coward. He was done being bullied by this man and his arrogance. Crush folded his hands across his chest, leaned against the car and waited for hell to break loose.  

“Hello, Marcus,” Lenana said. He never called Crush by his nick name.

“T’sup bro.” Crush responded.

Lenana kept walking to the front door. Shanni had walked back in the house when she saw him arrive. Lenana went in and deliberately left the front door open. If Crush had done anything stupid, Lenana wanted him to hear his displeasure. Crush couldn’t help himself. He moved closer and stood at the front door watching his sister and Lenana. It had been a while since he got an adrenalin high. He could smell the excitement.

“What’s the problem?” Lenana asked his wife as soon as he noticed how flustered she was.

“It’s Crush! He braided Sendeyo’s hair… just look at it! That boy is going back to Baltimore or DC… whatever hole he came from!” Lenana looked at the child as he slept through all this commotion.

“It’s not that bad. Cornrows don’t call for you to lose your mind.”

Crush couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The uppity Lenana not mad over his son having cornrows, and without being consulted at that!

“I can’t believe you would let Crush get away with this!” Shanni retorted back. A call was coming through on Crush’s phone. He ignored it; this was one interesting fight.

“I didn’t say he should get away with it. I just said it wasn’t that serious.”

“Oh, really. Do you want your son to grow up like a thug in the streets? Would you take him out looking like that and introduce him to your friends, huh?”

“Matter of fact I would!”

“You the new G in the house now!? Should I expect to see you start wearing bling and platinum teeth?”

“Maybe I have a different understanding on this issue, alright? Now, I actually had a very good day. Would you like to hear my good news?”

“No! You tell Crush to undo this damage right now!” Shanni could see her brother standing by the door. Lenana ignored her and disappeared towards the bedroom. Crush walked quickly back to his car and drove off.

He got to his shop and spent the next three hours running business with half his mind still puzzling over Lenana’s reaction. He always thought Lenana was one arrogant African carrying around a stifling superiority complex, with little regard for anyone else’s point of view and passing judgment on everything the brother-man did. Yet somewhere in this stuffy lion-killing African – and Crush believed it too – was something that made Crush brag to a friend or two that he had “a Af’can brother.” Why had he not flipped over the cornrows on Sendeyo’s head? Heck, his own friend Chris couldn’t stand cornrows on a brother, said it fell in the same category as sagging pants.

Around nine o’clock, Crush’s curiosity got the better of him. He locked up and decided to call Lenana before going home. He could count on his two thumbs and have a thumb left over, the number of times he had called his brother-in-law in the six years he had known him.

“Hey man.”

“Who’s this?”

“Me, man. Crush”

“Oh. What do you need?”

“Chill man. I don’t need anything from you.”


“Hey, look. Sorry about them cornrows man.”

“Oh. That’s alright.”


“A’aight, cool.” Crush was lost for words

“You shouldn’t have done it, Marcus.” Lenana said. When Crush named Lenana’s son Tesfaye, after the Ethiopian cab driver who had rushed Shanni to hospital when she was about to deliver, Lenana had made it clear the name would change. It never did. While he made sure the boy’s birth certificate read Sakaja Lenana, named for Lenana’s father, the nickname, Tes, stuck and was used by everyone else. Only he called his son Sakaja. Lenana remembered this as he spoke to Crush. “You should have asked first.”

“I know. Was just one of those spontaneous things you do, you know? But we cool now. Just wanted to send out my apologies to the man, you know.”

“I said it’s ok. It’s your sister you should be apologizing to.”


“How come you ain’t mad?”

“It’s nothing to make me mad.”

“Cornrows ain’t for people like you. You ought to be mad.”

“My people braid their hair too. Men do, have done so for centuries. There’s nothing to it.” Crush didn’t expect this reasoning. He had just found a new pal.

“I know, maan! You right, you right! I seen ‘em French-speaking Af’can women braided up all the time, real nice. But you see, some people see men cornrow as a thug thing. Goes back to hip-hop and gangs and shit, you see. Nothing wrong with hip-hop now. Is just what people think. Came straight from the streets. Language of resistance, identity, know what I’m sayin’? I gotta teach you a few things you don’t know cos you a gentleman broker with no street smarts. That’s why you ain’t mad. You don’t know the history of our people. But it ain’t a bad thing is what I’m trying to say. Is how you see it. When I say thug I don’t mean thug thug, you know. I mean is a cool thing only the brother-man understand, comes from a different kind of mindset, wisdom of the streets…”

“Marcus!” Lenana snapped.

“Hey, just thought you might appreciate an education or two from your street smart brother.”

“You’re not that smart on this issue.”

“Ha! Is that right?”

“That’s right.”

“Well, go on, Mr. Lenana. Ejumacate this emancipated fool.”

“Were you drunk when you named my son Tesfaye?”

“What’s that got to do with what we’re talking about?”

“Just give me a simple answer, please.”

“No! That’s insulting, man. You wasn’t there, remember? You was the one drunk as hell, coming to the hospital stinking like a skunk. I took care of your wife when you was foolin’ around. She could have died, man! Where was you? Huh? Where was you? Now you still mad about me naming your son? For what I did, I earned the right to name my nephew! In fact, I shoulda’ named both of them. And all these years you ain’t never said thank you. You ain’t never said, hey bro, I’ma take you out, I’ma thank you for what you did. You a sad nigga! I ain’t scared of you!” Crush wasn’t holding back anymore.

“Ok, ok. You got it all wrong. I wasn’t asking you the question as an insult. I’m not mad over that anymore. I was, for a long time, but I had to find meaning in it and make my peace.” This man was too stiff, Crush thought. All head, no heart. Who talks like that?

Lenana went on, “I’m just setting the stage, to see how much you understand. When you give someone a name, that name carves out the path of their destiny, depending on how you choose to understand its meaning or attachments. My son’s nickname is Ethiopian, and Ethiopians are fierce warriors, just like my people, the Maasai. So I don’t mind it.”

For a moment, Crush thought Lenana was about to apologize after all.

“Still with me?” Lenana asked.

“Sure, I’m listening.” Crush was preparing his victorious apology-accepted speech that would follow Lenana’s expression of remorse.

“There was a king named Tewodros. Tewodros the Second.” Lenana started. “He became king of Ethiopia in his thirties, ruled for thirteen years. He was a man who thought differently. He entered a dirty room and vowed to leave it cleaner than he found it. When he came to power, Ethiopia was divided into fiefdoms ruled by feudal warlords who used their peasant subjects like toilet paper.”

Crush laughed, not that the joke was funny, but that Lenana had attempted a joke, a stiff, serious, suit-wearing joke.

“The Church in Ethiopia was at that time very rich too, owning lots of land, and fighting all the time over this and that doctrine. Tewodros had a vision to unite Ethiopia, kill the feudal system that oppressed the people, and rebuild the country under one government. He got Europe to bring in modern technology, build roads and bridges. He built a huge centralized army, and often held council surrounded by lions that lived in his home. But Tewodros had underestimated the power of rich lords and the Church that held the people by the balls.”

“Damn, bro, did you say balls?” Crush chuckled. He was starting to enjoy this. Lenana ignored him.

“Soon, his new system begun to fail. The very peasants he tried to help turned against him. They felt he had taken away the only power they understood. His own soldiers started deserting him and returned to serve the warlords. See when a man who is not prepared for freedom suddenly has it, he will run back and ask his former master to enslave him again.”

Crush swallowed hard at this. Lenana had ever so slightly, unintentionally, scratched at a scab of Crush’s unhealed manhood, passed down generations.

“When he turned to Europe again to ask for help in fighting his enemies, they denied him assistance. He got angry, his ego bruised by rejection. Our male egos cannot handle rejection, remember that. We will transfer the sting to someone else. Tewodros’s bruised ego went into a spree of imprisoning and killing his enemies. The British eventually attacked him, and rather than surrender to them, he committed suicide.” Lenana paused. Crush said nothing.

“Sounds like he failed, right? But you know what, his successor took up where he left off, leading to the creation of a unified country, and that is why Tewodros is still credited with being the father of modern Ethiopia.”

“Tewodros, huh?” Crush said. “I see what you trying to teach me; that Africa got its street smart kings too. I get it. He was the G man that Tewodros.”

“What’s the G man?”

“Gangster. In a good way. He fought to change things. Them warlords and the Church with the people’s balls, they were the real thugs, you know.”

“Yes. Another thing, very important,” Lenana paused long for effect. Crush thought Lenana had hung up.

“You still there, man?”

“Tewodros was also the king of cornrows. Died in 1868 still wearing cornrows.”

“Daamn! That’s deep, bro!”

“I’m not done. A Maasai moran wears a coiffure of braids as a mark of valor, having become a man after killing a lion. I am a moran.” Lenana had never given up his little fabrication. The way he justified it, surviving America was more daring than killing a lion in the wilderness of Kajiado.

“You the man!” Crush said, tapping his own chest.

“And you just got your lesson on the cornrow chronicles.”

The next day when Lenana was at work, Crush went to straighten things out with Shanni. She brought out a comb so he could undo his grievous mistake. He held Sendeyo and proceeded to narrate to him the story of King Tewodros the G man, the father of modern Ethiopia, the king of cornrows. Shanni listened to the story, trying to figure out whether Crush had made it up or picked it from his nerdy friend, Chris, who probably read it in a history book.

“Yesterday, I wove on your head a great crown worn on the heads of kings, passed on to the lion-killing warrior in the motherland, and down to the brave brother-man in the streets. We’re kings, kiddo; we rule. Never you forget that. Now I shall proceed to remove your crown because your mama pissed.”

Shanni rolled her eyes and supervised the undoing of the cornrows until Sendeyo’s afro stood round and neat on his little head.

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