Jaita’s phone call was a lifeline. Ara forced the words out of her mouth. “They scraped my head.”
“No! You have beautiful hair.”
Her natural curls were shoulder length. “Had.”
“I’m so sorry,” Jaita said.
Hot tears ran down Ara’s cheeks. “When I said I wasn’t going to comply with their request, they’d questioned my love for Duro.”
Jaita clucked her disapproval. “What does hair have to do with love?”
Ara continued to stroke the clumps of shaved hair in her lap. The strands held memories. Duro played with them. He would help take out her braids or weaves and spent time dividing her hair into little squares. It made it easier for him to oil the dandruff-plagued scalp. New hair will come, but it will not know her husband.
“At least they didn’t insist on you drinking the water used to clean Duro’s corpse,” Jaita said.
Ara’s stomach heaved at the thought. “They would have had to restrain me to pour it down my throat.”
A deep sigh echoed down the phone line. “We’ve lost our sense of compassion,” Jaita said. “Another girlfriend got her period while she had to remain unwashed for seven days. She sat in the blood.”
Ara’s fingers clenched. “Who made these wicked rules?”
“I don’t know. But we women sure help to enforce them.”