"The fact is, my palms and fingers are abnormally small. This is not a beauty-conscious girl’s wish to have long shapely fingers. This is an undeniable research-based anthropological fact about me. And this fact bothered me for a major part of my life. Now it doesn’t.
I stayed content in my bliss of ignorance when it came to trends, appearance and other such ‘happening’ parts of life. Even as a teen! I lived in my world, usually at peace but also disconnected from the rest of the world. My friends literally had to pinch me to notice both compliments and comments that came my way while walking to school or tuitions.
However, somewhere deep within my nirvana, there was a thorn that pinched very slightly, but a thorn nevertheless. I hid my ten little short fingers whenever there was a chance of exposing them.
During my undergraduate years at IIT Chennai, seeking knowledge and exploring life with friends overshadowed any other concerns, including my discomfort with my short fingers, until the time for placements arrived. I realized that this could be a professional hazard in the field of biotech. The size of my fingers would not allow me to hold more than two test tubes together during time-sensitive lab experiments. I made a pragmatic decision and opted to apply for non-biotech jobs.
When the time for matrimonial photos arrived, I had to handle my hands once again. I posed for pictures, hiding or covering my hands even though there were no such demands from my parents. My fear had managed to stay with me, and surfaced without any warning. Over the course of getting married when no one asked me anything about palms and fingers, I felt confident and thought that I had finally buried my fears for good. I was wrong.
I found myself worried about the possibility that my child may inherit my hands. When I shared my fear with my obstetrician in the labour room, she paused for a moment, and then quipped – ‘even if your child gets your hands, you must ensure that she doesn’t repeat this question to her doctor.’ My doctor’s reply was a godsend as I needed to blow away my shell before my daughter was born with palms and fingers just like mine.
When I was hesitant about playing musical instruments, a music teacher inspired me by telling me that even the great musician Illayaraja had small fingers. Now, I can play a couple of musical instruments with good expertise. My daughter is also deeply interested in music and is learning how to play the keyboard. At school, sometimes her friends – small curious children – ask her about the size of her hands. She speaks like a wizened old wizard – “My mom and I are special people with special fingers and that is why it is so easy for her and me to play so many musical instruments.”