I remember the day I got my ears pierced. I was eight. Dad parked the car off Janpath under the LIC building. I had been lying down hunched up in the back seat, regretting my decision to go ahead with the torture. I did not fancy earrings. I did not envy girls who wore them. How did this insane idea crop up?
I got out of the car, and walked towards Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri. I was wearing a red top and a red-and-white striped skirt. The bottoms of my ear lobes were red from pinching, because I’d been trying to simulate the horrifying moment of unbearable pain for many hours now.
I’d been to Zaveri often, but never on a grim mission. My mom held my hand, and enquired where the ear-piercing uncle sat. Uncle was a fair, portly old man who was an ear-piercing veteran and had pierced the ears of the vain ape from whom my great-great-grandmother had descended.
Everything is busy and solemn in a big shop when you go to get yourself executed. The golden light falling on golden ornaments all turned into molten yellow for my tear-laden eyes.
Uncle was located. His hands quivered. He would retire any day now, and we were lucky to have him pierce my ears, my mom said. He never smiled, that uncle. He inspected my earlobes, and pulled out a tube of ointment, with three tiny golden orbs at its opening. Preparations for a three-eared girl?
He turned my face aside, and told me he’d mark my ears with a pen, so that he got the earring in the right place. That makes sense, I thought. The pen hurt a bit. The nib must have been sharp. And then the other ear was marked symmetrically.
Now for the real thing. I bit my lip and tears flowed freely in anticipation. Done already, he said. I touched my ear. A golden rod passed through each earlobe. I wailed in a mixture relief and anger at the betrayal.
My mother beamed. One major maternal milestone crossed! She bought me a big fat colouring book from a Janpath bookstore as a reward for being so brave (yeah right!). It was called “My Busy Book” and it had a pink cover. I was happy, and soon stopped breathing in desperate, sobbing gulps.
I have wasted so much of my life in being afraid of small things.