So this is in response to Mr. DJ who once asked me, “What is it with you and pain? You like pain?”
And that was when I was going on about the multiple piercings and tattoo that I have on myself. Ten piercings, and one tattoo. Very proud of them too. At that time I gave him some fangled funda (have still not found a proper English equivalent for this word, guess I never will) about how it makes me feel powerful, in a weird way, maybe because it made me conquer fear of pain. I still say I have a higher pain threshold. And maybe it has also got to do with how I feel “unique” to have been where very few people have gone.
Just the other day, while trying to force open a clogged piercing (you don’t want to know details, believe me) with a mirror pressed between my knees, eyes stinging from tears of pain, it suddenly struck me as funny; all the ceremony surrounding my first ear piercing at the tender age of five. My sister was eleven. The brave-heart that she was, she pushed me forward to get it done with first, while “Compounder Uncle” sat with his sterilized needle ready. And this is the part where the story gets funny enough to be repeated over family dinners, for life. Seeing me getting my ears pierced my sister actually passed out, coming to sense a minute later to the horrific realization that she would have to go through the same process and that no, it didn’t magically happen on its own while she was passed out.
I should have sensed the direction of the winds, around that time when I got bit by our pet puppy on the knee, and had to be given six injections. The nurse (Kalpita Mahi, I still remember) had remarked to my mother that I was the only six year old kid she had met, who wouldn’t cry at the mere sight of injections, leave alone at having to take them. I would actually keep looking at my arm to see how the needle went inside the skin. And until a few years back, I’d had a lunch box that she’d gifted me on my birthday way back then, as proof that I was a brave kid.
But it is not about bravery. I think more often than not, in my case, it is about being whimsical, and about the thrill of “something new”. Cut to the year 2005, when I was in Guwahati for my graduation, in my first year as a Physics Honors student. So on the day we had our internal assessment for laboratory work, while on my way to college in the bus, I saw a woman who had two piercings in each of her ears. It’s not like I was seeing two piercings for the first time, but I admit back then it was not that common. Something about that lady stuck to me all throughout the morning, and so, after coming out from college after a crappy exam, having been yelled at by the teacher, I decided I had to do something to make my mood better. In retrospection, an insane amount of chocolate or even a good lunch might have done the trick as well, but my mind was stuck on a second piercing. Consumed by that thought, once I reached my Uncle’s place I didn’t talk much for fear of letting the idea slip out of my mouth by mistake, and extremely determined, walked out to the nearest beauty salon.
Before I go ahead, you have to understand this that my upbringing, though never conservative, was always traditional. And there was no place for the superfluous and the frivolous. Make-up for one, or even an extra dress, fell in the category of the unnecessary. And as I sat there in the salon, with one little black dot on each ear marking the spot for the piercings, I remember having a thousand “second” thoughts. That, and the fact that the moment I mentioned I was there for the piercings the ladies there actually smirked at me. Smirked. The lady brandishing the gun (ooh, doesn’t that sound dangerous!) for the piercing kept giggling so hard I was scared she’d miss my ears. But then. Two stapler-like shots, and I was done. Through with my first ever rebellious act.
I again wonder if the next six piercings would have happened had my Mom acted like a drama queen over my piercing. But quite an anti-climax it was; my Mom’s reaction to the piercings. Here I was, thinking I was being the rebel, rebelling against a crappy exam system, crossing a line, and all my Mom said was “Ugh. Why?” Not quite what I’d expected.
But after a few weeks the novelty wore off. And in a matter of months one of the piercings got blocked by itself. My rebel-act covered itself up.