Blog post by Prabha Prakash
So, it was one of those days, when one of my long-awaited wishes neared materialization…
Amma called out…
“Konthe…nee naraya naala mookku kuthikkanam chollindirukkaye…innaku polaama?”
(“Child…you’ve been insisting on getting your nose pierced since so many days…shall we go today?”)(#1)
“Aamam…velli kazhamaiyaa irukku…rahu kalam kazhinjachu…Vaa..vegam ready aavu.”
(“Yes..Today is Friday, being the auspicious day and we have also crossed the raahu kaalam. Come…Get ready fast!”)
I didn’t think for a split second…Amma was taken aback to see me getting excitedly ready so fast…(Ya..of course…the girl who tests her patience every day and doesn’t turn up for the umpteenth call!)
Now came the first question. Where should we go?
There are two accepted methods of nose-piercing. One, the traditional thattaan (goldsmith) way ; which grants us the nirvana of realistic pain; but heals quite quickly . And the second, the gun shot (Dishoom!) way, where a temporary nosepin is inserted into our nostril and apparently which involves a lower degree of pain.
Obviously, owing to the innate repulsion in us to the traditional methods and with the hope to escape the pain involved at least to an extent, we (err…I) chose the second option.
And we headed to XYZ jewellery…(#2)
And things happened real fast. We were taken upstairs to the expert salesperson in nose-piercing; a disciplinarian.
“Come sit. ”
An excited, but innocent victim gets seated.
“Right or left?”
What a question? Right!!! Ofcourse! That’s obvious! That’s what makes us unique!
“Please choose the colour”
He took out a ball point pen and made a mark on the right side of my nose and said,
“Check if the position is right.”
Before I could understand what was happening, he placed an enlarged stapler-like thing onto my right nostril and before I could catch my breath,
I didn’t know what kind of pain that was…(#3)
But when I saw my face on the mirror, I could only see a blurred image…
My eyes were full of tears and my face red.
My mother asked the guy to give me a glass of water.
(“What happened…Did it pain?”)
I was about to go into the “Ammaa…romba valikkarthu…”-mode but I saw a tiny little stone adorning my nose and got carried away by it.
Then it was the time for selfies,, and “Paaru…Epdi irukku” sessions…
That night I ignored the pain and the fact that my nose was slowly swelling up like a neyyappam.
I was really excited to go to office the next day and show-off the new addition to my face.
First half of the day passed quite well as it was filled with –
“It looks beautiful.”
“When will you be wearing the gold one?”
But as I came back from lunch, the responses were a bit different.
When I eagerly called my friend and said “Nokku” (“See”) #4
She said “Oops…”
And then the reactions were like:
“Enthu patti?” (What happened?)
“Oh…kashtam”… (Sorry for you)
Initially, I didn’t understand why there was a paradigm shift in the way my friends reacted to my nose.
When I saw my face in the mirror, I couldn’t see the nosepin.
That tiny little thing has hidden itself within the confines of my red; round; swelled up nose…
Things started getting worse.
The first phase was the remedies phase…
All kinds of remedies were tried (In the chronological order):
Thathi: “Konthe, Ennaiyum kumkumam um potta porum” (#5)
(Apply the oil and kumkum combo!)
Adutha aathu mami:”Intha ammi kozhavi irukku lya…atha antha kallila orachaa..oru paal varum..atha pottukko..appove unangiyoodum”
(Readers please excuse as I stutter to translate this complicated thing the next door mami suggested; into pure English)
(Anyhow, the gist is: the grinding stone when rubbed with the base stone generates a fluid, and it is a good medicine for quick healing)
Colleague: Salt mixed in lukewarm water!
Roommate: Betadine ointment!
Hostel warden: I can provide you cotton and neosporin powder.
So, during this first phase, as I kept trying the remedies one by one, in the order of occurrence, my poor nose was not getting an idea what was happening and gave up; slowly slipping into the second phase– the intimidating phase…
Yes…This is when people started scaring me of the consequences…
“Antha mookkuthi ya thirichinde irukkanam tya…illainaa otteendoodum…pinne edukka mudiyathu”
(“Keep rotating that nosepin with your hand, else, it would stick on to your skin”)
“Itha maatti thangam pottundoodu…illainaa pazhukkum”
(“Change this to gold; else it would cause infection.”)
And my friends, who kept scaring me ; anticipating the worst of consequences:
“Aa mookkuthi ullil poyi tto…nokku…tholi vannu moodum…pinne operation cheythu maattendi varum.”
(“See..that nosepin has gone inside…a skin will grow to cover it and you will have to surgically remove it”).
I didn’t heed to any of these; but still; removed my imitation nosepin with a big struggle (which calls for a separate write up in itself;) and replaced it with a long; thin golden earring that thathi used for kaathu kuthal (ear-piercing) so that it has no chance left to hide itself inside.
Days passed. Actually; weeks did pass.
It became a daily ritual for my hostelmates to come into my room to check the status of my nose…
But my nose remained same; with the unhealed wound.
Each time I touched it, blood oozed from it and it started developing infections.
And slowly, we moved into the third phase; the fact-finding phase, when everyone started finding the reasons for this tiny mishap.
“Ennama…samayam paathu kuthikkalayo?”
(“Didn’t you check for the auspicious time while piercing?”)
“Kovil ku thengai pending irukku lya..”
(“Did you miss any promise (coconut-breaking) you made to the temple?”)
Ya..I agree that I had promised to break coconuts in three Ganapathy temples (This is true!) while I struggled to remove my imitation nosepin.
But, I have already cleared that debt …Then why?
“See…I have a doubt. A wound not healing for these many days…Don’t panic. But, have you checked your blood sugar?”
Me? Diabetic? Oh God!
And then the accusation…
“Sundari aavan poyathalle…anubhavicho.”
(“You wanted to get beautiful right? Now suffer!”)
“Already you have a mami look…Now you look like a paatti.”
Finally, I came to a point where I could no longer take this.
When my nose started looking weird during my one-to-one appraisal discussions and team outing photographs…And made me exhaust 2 days of my treasured sick leave…
And when the pain started moving on to the “unsahikkable” stage…
I decided to voluntarily jump into the Final phase: pidungi eri phase (Throw it away!)
When my trials at removing the thing myself failed endless times as the nosepin had got almost stuck on to my nostrils…
I knew it would pain; but I told Amma.
Come, let’s go to Raju doctor…(Yes…our savior and the most experienced and common man’s doctor in and around our village).
Amma rushed me to the doctor lest I change my mind.
As I scaled my little steps into the doctor’s consulting room…
Raju doctor asked “Ennachu?”
He examined my nose and within a second, told, “Intha mookkuthi kuthina edame sheriyillai…Nerve la aakkum kutheerkkaan…Pinne epdi chora varaadhakku irukkum…Athu oru nuisance aakkum ma..vendaam…”
(“This nosepin has not been pierced on the right position. He might have pierced on the nerves; that’s why it is bleeding. This is a nuisance. Get rid of this.”)
And then he called out “Jayaa…”
I know what it means…He is calling out Jayan-the compounder…
I feared him…
The dreadful Jayan who used to mercilessly administer injections during my school days as I fell sick…
The heartless Jayan who puts dettol and cleans my wounds heedlessly as I scream and squeal each time I fell down and broke my knees…
And that room! That Smelled Dettol!
I reluctantly entered that medical room.
“Oru second kanna moodikko.”
(“Close your eyes for one second.”)
And before I could decipher what he was going to do…he embarked upon his duty with unstinting dedication…
As he held my nose, I couldn’t stand the pain and I tried to remove his hand.
He didn’t give up.
I tried to shout; but couldn’t.
He murmured “kaiya pidicha epdi edukka mudiyum…kaiya vidu”
(“If you hold my hand, how can I take it out? Take out your hand.”)
And then, amidst that fight between both of us, when he pulled out this little thing with a cutting player on one side and a scissor on the other side of my right nostril…
I suffered a pain…a sort of pain that made me regret for all my 7 janmas for having taken this decision to wear a Mookkuthi…
It was over…When I opened my eyes, I saw my nose covered in blood.
But the pain was gone. And the nuisance too.
Jayan smiled and said “Intha pidichukko…onnodu mookkuthi..”
(“Here…take your nosepin…”)
Jayan, now looked like an angel savior for me.
I smiled and thanked him. And understood that, if I had chosen to come to the doctor few weeks ago, I could have done away with all the pain I suffered these days.
And today, my right nose stands with that black spot as a testimony to this beautiful tale and an unfulfilled mookkuthi desire…
Now, as I try to move to the next scar-removing methods-phase, my aunt calls out…
“Konthe…Aadi maasam 18 kku venamnaa oru trial kooda paakkalaam…”
(“Aadi 18 is an auspicious day…If you want; we can try out again”)
“Vendaam!!! Enakku mookku thiruppi kadachathe bhagyam!!!”
(“ No!!! I’m lucky to have got my nose back!”)
But, as I get into the lift for work that day, I see a pretty girl with a sparkling little diamond on her nose…
And I smile too…
Aunt’s idea is not bad, after all…
#1: It is our parents’ inherent right to address our daughters as “child” irrespective of the age…and we do stealthily enjoy it;)…Hence; no offence…
#2: The reason for not revealing the name of the jewellery is that I have already given them a piece of my mind(!) when one sweet voice called me for customer feedback, which ironically resulted in an entry in their (never-to-be-opened) complaint registration book.
#3: I know, getting a nose pierced is one of the minutest of things and the pain is not even 0.01% of the pain that we’re entitled to suffer in our life going forward…But still, pain is a pain…even if it is an ant’s bite (erumbu kadichathu foolishly translated to English)or a soul-wincing one.
#4: In order to maintain the authenticity of the events, I switch to Malayalam while referring to incidents where the venue is office to avoid the cycle of 2 translationsJ
#5: Thathi means grandma. Usually, the term is “paatti”. But due to a simple logic of equivalence that a “thatha-thathi” sounds better than a “thatha-paatti”, I chose to call her so.
Endnote: All incidents and characters portrayed here are true and any resemblance to any person real or dead (me) is not at all coincidental!!!
Confession: There might be opinions cropping up in the minds of readers for sure that “Is this incident that big to be written up so lengthy as this?”. Yes…I do know that…Still, the reason why I chose to write this was to keep this memory etched to my mind…Not the incident per se; but the tenderness that emerged unintentionally in the characters…It left me in awe and slightly mocked the cynicism in me…