Hi, I’m Kelly; full name Kelechukwu Odili. I am the coolest member of the beard gang. Although, most people do not understand my appeal, but I do; I know why people never stop staring at me everywhere I go, every time they see me. It’s the beard. The beard is like an emblem, an honorable emblem in that it makes people honor you. I’ve seen those small small boys who don’t even have one strand of facial hair trying to be men, but nobody acknowledges them. They never get honored. Do you know why? It’s because honor will only be given to whom honor is due. Isn’t that what Jesus Christ himself said?
Right from childhood, I had always known I would have this wonderful beard. I was always very hairy you know, just not in the chin area. But one fateful day, one hair came out, and then another and then another. As at when there were four hairs, my mother was so worried, because she had a beard; all men and women in her ancestry were extremely hairy, so she didn’t understand why I should be different. It was a normal rite of passage for a youth to grow beards. Little did she know that the fifth strand was the strand that would let the dogs out, or in my case; let the hares out. Lol. That was funny because ‘hares’ rhymes with ‘hairs’, I hope you laughed, because in the beard gang we take our jokes very seriously.
Anyways, the strands became stubble and then grew into a beard. I now had hair everywhere; my chin, my chest, my armpits, my arms and legs. I was very grateful to God for that growth spurt, because I never thought it’d happen to me. Most people; girls and boys alike were not aware of my hairy prowess until my first year in the university when I joined the Beard gang. After joining the beard gang, things started to change for me; I became popular, I found my own clique of friends and my own place in life generally. Me I love all things “beard gang” except the clubbing. I hate clubs so much, dear God. It was in a club I discovered that people can be mean. Let me share with you this experience.
One random night, one of our beard gang fam; Deji was feeling down, so we decided to party in a bid to cheer him up. It was about two months after I joined the beard gang. Apart from being the masters of dry jokes, we beard gang people are also hot steppers. And so it was on that fateful night that I was throwing down steps on the dance floor, when I felt someone’s arms around my torso. At first, I wanted to freak out, but I chose not to; I just maintained my swag and danced like I didn’t know of the slender presence behind me. After I had danced for a while, said presence wasn’t going anywhere so I turned to confront it, but one look at my face and I didn’t have a dance partner anymore.
I wanted to be shocked, but I shook it off, there was probably another reason for the swift exit, it couldn’t be because of me; people respected my dance skills. I looked over at my friends with a question in my eyes; why did my dance partner run away? They all shrugged and turned their attention back to Deji who was sulking in one corner. He had recently faced major disgrace in school because of his beard, but I didn’t get why he was feeling such shame. He was the big kahuna, the one we all looked up to, the king on the hill, the hairiest of us all, the hair ball himself; I could go on and on. Suffice it to say; he was my mentor. But one small brush up with that loud mouthed chit called Naomi and he calls it quits. As I watched him, I started to understand his shame; it was the stubble. A beard that tiny would make anyone in their right mind ashamed of themselves. Anyway, things got weirder as the night wore on; people kept dancing with me and then leaving whenever they got a good look at my face. It was like something on my face scared them away all the time. At first I wasn’t worried, I didn’t even care; but as it became obvious that people were running from me, I started feeling bad. I mean my swag was on point; I had over twenty swag points then.
I decided to take a break in the toilet and get my confidence back – no maclean. Now, this is where it started getting bad. I entered the ladies and they just started screaming at me, as in; the ladies – about four of them – started screaming at me. “What’s happening? Why are you shouting?” I asked starting to panic too. I was ready to run out of there in a nanosecond.
“Ahn ahn, what’s wrong with your voice?” one of them asked
“Is that eyeliner?” another one asked
“Are you gay?” the four of them asked in unism.
I wondered what was going on as I stared at them, what kind of questions were these ones asking me now. “Nothing is wrong with my voice, I’m not gay and yes, this is eyeliner.”
“Eyeliner keh” the first one said “Why are you wearing eyeliner? What are you even doing here? This place is for…..”
I had heard enough; I blew my top and snapped at them. I had been feeling rotten all night, so their comments just scattered everything.
“For what?! It’s a crime to want to pee now? And what’s with the whole eyeliner thing? Is there a law that says a lady can’t wear eyeliner to a club? Biko biko, allow me.” I said as I walked past them into one of the toilet stalls.
Right before I closed the door I heard one of them say “A lady? That’s a woman?” and her friend answered “Wonders shall never end, look at all that hair…..” I shut the door and sat on the closed toilet thinking about the vanity of life. All along, I had been wondering why people were avoiding me. I thought about how sad life was and felt sad, but I decided not to let it bring me down so I did my business, cleaned up my face and determined in my heart to be more awesome than I already was.
I stood up and walked out of the toilet with a little more swag in my steps, and then I proceeded to dance the night away. Around 4:30am, Deji was passed out on a couch somewhere and all the other Beard gang fam were tired of dancing so we decided to head out. We were parked right outside the gate, so everyone filed into the car. I was going to drive since Deji was inebriated so I made to get into the driver’s seat, but I bumped into a drunk guy.
“Dude!” I shouted “What the hell is your problem?!”
“Baba, fuck out of my way” he replied
That is where I lost it; why was he calling me “Baba”? Couldn’t he see my boobs, no matter how small, they were still boobs. I broke down right there and started crying. I wept for myself and the other members of my gang, I wept for the people who couldn’t dance with a girl in the club because she had a little hair on her face, I wept for my mother and how she had encouraged and prayed for me in my formative years, I wept because I now understood why guys were afraid of me, I wept for so many reasons and it took a while for me to stop. I decided there and then to never go to a club again; there were too many high people without speech filters.
Since then, I have been living this quiet beard gang life, smiling at only my friends and facing my studies. Until the day I meet a guy who will appreciate and respect my beard, I have sworn to be very humble and nice to everyone. Till then; peace, love and more hair.
A Beard Gang Member