06 February, 2010

Nailing the Nails

I sat staring at my pretty pink nails. The bottle proclaimed it was Mocha Kiss. Or was it Verry Berry? I grinned. Whose hands were these? Yes the stubby fingers were still arching towards their tallest cousin. The palms still sported faint lines, criss-crossed and broken all along. But these hands were not mine. So how did they reach here? To put this puzzling monologue into perspective, let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start (I saw Sound of Music for the ______th time recently. So.).

When I was a kid [and during most of my adult (egad!) life] I belonged to that 'differently-inclined' class of people that bite their nails. Nail nibbler that I was, I didn't need an excuse to chew my nails. Back from making mud houses? Chew nails. Fought for (and won) window seat in school bus? (There is a long story there, but let's leave it for another day.) Feel wind on face and chew nails. Played with the dogs? Chew nails. Reading about the Five Find-outer's latest exploits? Chew away. Basically, every activity I did was played against the background score of nails being bitten. Hands were never washed, dirt and grime were disregarded, cleanliness was too close to godliness to do anything with me.

And then somewhere during my pre-teen years, The Family realized this was not a passing phase, their child was a chronic nail maniac and quick and concrete measures were required to curb the terrible menace of the Keratin Craze. The methods employed to wean me off my own extremities were designed to stimulate all my senses. Well almost.

  1. Hearing: The shout routine. "Stop chewing your nails or you'll be given Horlicks instead of Bournvita." Of course that was an empty threat. Horlicks made me sending my milk in the other direction, its sullen off-whiteness was just plain depressing. I saw through that one right away. There were versions, threatening to cut down on play time, not allow me to watch Ducktales, but somehow, I managed to find my way to my fingers.
  2. Taste: There was the nail polish round which failed miserably as soon as I discovered thatthingcalledremover. I would just splatter it over my fingers and wipe them on my frocks. Now not only did I have bitten nails, but dirty clothes too! (I was getting so smart at this). There was also the more vicious mirchi round where chilli powder was smeared on my fingertips, not that it deterred my monstrous appetite for my nails. I'd just plough through the fiery taste till it subsided (come to think of it, the experience might have set the tone for my love affair for all things mirchi).
  3. Touch/Sight?: My fingers were bandaged in strips of cloth once but that failed right away, I just gnawed through that (yes, my incisors should definitely be insured).

Then somewhere during that rather interesting time when I was the only girl in a classful of boys, my class teacher devised an ingenious method to stop me from chewing my fingers off. She made the boy sitting next to me (oh I remember the terror on his face and the glee that dawned afterwards) promise to slap me each time I chewed my nails. Surely that seemed too harsh a punishment on so sweet a child? "He'll be hitting me all day", I thought. But sadly, Ma'am S grossly underestimated my tenacity to stick to my fingers and overestimated the boy's guts to slap a girl (even though the entire class thought it to be the best punishment ever and graciously cheered him on long after it was deemed a failure). I guess the violence it demanded and my agility combined, spelt disaster and the punishment never really took off, though I am sure many believed it would have been ohsogood.

My determination and perseverance were commendable, I fast moved to being a teenager and chronic nail biter. It was worst when I read a book. Agatha Christie was the queen. At the end of her books, I'd have almost lost millimeters of my fingers, so fanatic was the fun. The classics were less favourable, they required too much of my attention. Contrary to popular belief that nail biting is a sign of nervousness, I found myself chewing my nails when most relaxed. It was a pursuit of pleasure! There is the grimace and yes I recognize the disgust. It's palpable but it's an art you know, this nail biting. Not everyone can do it. My mother can't. I remember challenging her to bite her nails when I was a kid and she refused. But I knew she just couldn't. But then biting off your nails can have grave (and often painful) repercussions.

Eating a hot curry with your hands becomes a torturous experience. Having to write a three hour long exam can become excruciating, with the most mutilated fingers feeling it the most. And then there is the Scratch Sadness. You want to scratch, but there is just no scratch in your scratch. It just kills your spirit. Lifting a coin off the floor becomes so difficult it's almost hilarious. And yes, bitten nails are not the perfect visual in any situation. They are ugly and rather (for want of a better word) ridiculous.

And then, after numerous (oh yes every year if you insist) resolutions, I weened myself off the only real habit I ever had. The Family phewed, almost believing that I had finally grown up. Friends looked at my transformed extremities in utter astonishment. The nail biter community, of which I was a trusted and valuable member, shunned me. I had joined Them. I had chewed my last chew. I had ostracized myself from the only real hobby group I was ever invited to join!

And so, I live now. Oh yes I suffer from withdrawal symptoms all the time. Brittle nails. Zero knowledge about how to handle nails longer than my fingers. Yes, I do own a nail cutter now. And some nail polish bottles and that remover. But once every while, the keratin craze kicks in. To hell with Verry Berry and it's obnoxious siblings then.


  1. so there never were any nail biting suspenses for you... BTW, how many fingers are you left with now ?

  2. Prasoon12:55 am

    Here is something for you :)

    Show the world what you love most or say, loved most! :P

  3. Marvin1:43 pm

    the font colour is too light.

    ps - and guess what the CAPTCHA was. sophoo. with the two Os. strange.

  4. Marvin: Now does the colour suit you just fine? As soon as it was posted, I knew you'd think it was too light. Talking about coincidences, the sophoo takes the cake! What are the odds?

  5. And you do love the throw jargon at her, watch her google it routine na. 'CAPTCHA' kahin ke. Anyway learning something new is always good :)

  6. how in the world did u achieve this? the suspense has got me chewing on my nails again. hehe. seriously. do you know, in my previous agency i went for a Hawkins pressure cooker shoot where 'I' of all the people in the world was the hand model. the nice lady applying foundation to my sun burnt hands asked me- "why do you cut your nails short?" to this i replied- "actually i don't cut them. i chew them." the look on her face was priceless. :)

  7. ha ha nive...i cant imagine you hand modelling!

  8. hehe... i know man.. it was quite random... however i think it's commendable that my teeth can do the job at par with a nail cutter...lol.. though i must say you have inspired me...i am going to try my best to duplicate...well not the pink nail paint...your feat.. lol...

  9. Ya the pink thing was way overboard. It has been suitably removed now. My hands are looking like they belong to me again :)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...