My mama was having long hair which she will plait with black threads and roll around her head like a thick rope, looking like two or three small tires around her head.

As we know "was having" means "had" but how about "will" in the next sentence?

So could you tell me please what the tense of the first sentence is?

The fuller text is:

When I close my eyes on some days, I see my mama as a rose flower: a yellow and red and purple rose with shining leafs. And if I sniff a deep sniff, I can catch her smell too. That sweet smell of a rosebush sitting around a mint tree, of the coconut soap in her hair just after a washing at Agan waterfalls. My mama was having long hair which she will plait with black threads and roll around her head like a thick rope, looking like two or three small tires around her head. Sometimes she will remove the threads, let the hair climb down to her back so that I can brush it with her wooden brush. Sometimes, she will take the brush from my hand, make me to sit on a bench in the outside by the well, and twist up my own hair with so much coconut oil that I go about the whole village smelling like a frying food. She didn’t old, my mama, only forty-something years of age before she die, and every day I feel a paining in my spirit for her quiet laugh and voice, for the soft of her arms, for her eyes that say more things than her mouth ever speak. She didn’t sick for too long, thank God. Just six and half months of coughing and coughing until the cough eat up her whole flesh and make her shoulders be like the handle of our parlor door.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

  • 1
    This text is full of errors ("leafs" instead of "leaves". "she didn't old" instead of "she wasn't old") Your sentence is also very non-idiomatic. It is either a fairly low level learner or someone writing to emulate someone with low levels of English skills. What is the source of this text?
    – James K
    Nov 8, 2020 at 16:25
  • 1
    My guess is the second. "brittlepaper.com/2020/09/excerpt-girl-with-the-louding-voice" It is not in any tense. It is written in the voice of a 14 year old Nigerian girl. It uses "broken" English for all her narration.
    – James K
    Nov 8, 2020 at 16:30
  • 1
    I read it as in a non-standard variety of English, but I don't know whether that is so.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 8, 2020 at 16:30
  • @ James K I added the sorce.
    – Peace
    Nov 8, 2020 at 18:58
  • @ColinFine َAutor says: Nigerians speak something called pidgin English, and I knew I didn’t want to write in pidgin English because even the very educated people speak pidgin English. So I knew it wasn’t going to be that. I wanted it to be nonstandard English, whatever that meant. I thought by doing that, I could make it Adunni’s. It could be her own English, so to speak.
    – Peace
    Nov 8, 2020 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


The tense is past tense. "She was having long hair". We learn in this paragraph that the girl's mother is dead.

The narrator is a 14-year-old Nigerian girl, and not a speaker of one of the standard dialects of English. From the perspective of "Standard English" there are lots of errors. You should say "She had long hair", for example.

The second part "will" can be understood as being the same as "would" in standard English, indicating habitual actions.

Translating to standard dialect.

My mother had long hair which she would plait with black threads and roll around her head like a thick rope.

  • It's chosen as the best book of 2020 so far by Amazon editors! amazon.com/Best-Books-of-the-Year-So-Far/…
    – Peace
    Nov 8, 2020 at 19:04
  • 1
    Great, but don't look to it as book for learning grammar!
    – James K
    Nov 8, 2020 at 19:15
  • Why did you decide to write the book in broken English? I felt that I needed to break her English down and break myself down in the process to understand her, so that she could be understood by anyone else who’s reading it. When I was writing it, I did not think it would get published. So I was really telling myself a story. Many of the maids I knew or that my husband knew, they didn’t speak good English. I found that I couldn’t use any metaphors that I was used to, and I found myself constantly thinking of the character and saying, “How would she say it?”
    – Peace
    Nov 8, 2020 at 19:34
  • nytimes.com/2020/02/01/books/…
    – Peace
    Nov 8, 2020 at 19:35

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