“No one’s going to marry you!” My grandmother said, as I sat at the dining table and ate my lunch quietly, trying to ignore her words.
“Do you hear me?” She continued, banging her head in frustration, thereby bringing my whole family downstairs to where I was once eating peacefully.
“This child shall die alone! Look at her!”
My parents turned to me as I continued eating, not bothered about her, tired of her tantrums. It was a usual dramatic event whenever she came over to my house and my parents acted along just so she wouldn’t make an even bigger deal out of it. I got up and washed my hands after which I proceeded into my room, locking the door behind me. Downstairs, I heard the beginning of an argument, one that I knew wouldn’t end any time soon. They discussed at length how I was unfit for marriage and how as a girl I shouldn’t have been doing what I was. All because of my left handedness.
It began when I was a child, as I picked up the edge of my tiny red frock with my left hand and stuffed it into my mouth. My grandmother came running towards me and slapped my chubby pink face hard as my mother picked me up and cradled my tears, shouting profanities at the old lady.
“She’s a child!” My mother wailed, wiping away a tear as my father watched solemnly from a distance, unwilling to interfere in the quarrel between the two women. I had thought then that the mistake I committed was putting my dress in my mouth and told myself not to do it again. But hours later as my grandmother still clung to the topic, I realised it was because I’d put the filthy cloth in my mouth with my left hand. She didn’t care if I choked on it as long as I did it with my right.
When I began eating by myself, at the age of four, my grandmother nearly had a heart attack. She realized then that my left-handedness wasn’t conformed to just eating my frock. She stopped visiting us because she stated that I was ‘sinister’ and that she couldn’t live in a house which had a ‘monster’ in it. She claimed that either I had to stay or she did. What surprises me to this minute is how my mother chose my left handedness over my grandmother’s visits. I’d always thought that she’d forcefully try to change me, stating that their relationship was more important.
Eventually, I began writing and that took a serious impact on that grandmother of mine who was convinced by then that I’d been born just to torture her.
“Why couldn’t you have a boy?” She’d ask repeatedly. “Maybe he’d be right-handed and he’d be my loved grandchild!”
My mother would walk away, pretending not to hear her. Her behaviour gave me a lot of confidence. But little had I known that the society thought the same way about me.
As I began going out to restaurants, people used to stare, some dropping their forks and being so obvious about it but others, a little discreet in comparison. But it was always the same. They weren’t looking at me, they were looking at my hand. My precious hand, one that was more a part of me than the other one. No one seemed to be able to accept it. In college, I lost friends. They’d look at me weirdly or ask me why I couldn’t just be ‘normal’.
It became a routine for me, having only my mother to support me and think of me as perfect. As I grew older, I realized no one mattered. I was happy this way. Writing with my right hand would never happen. Eating with it was ruled out. It could alienate my family or even make them feel like I was a disgrace to them. In the end, this was me. And they were going to learn to have to accept that or to hell with them.
Standing at my grandmother’s grave, I shed a silent tear. Now, I’d have no one to shout at me or make me feel strongly like I had to love myself more. She was gone and there was nothing I could do about it. I remembered her last words and how she looked at me, for one last time, with a glare that chilled my soul.
“Don’t let that girl anywhere near me!” She said, with venom in her tongue.
Yet, here I was, still not listening to her. Because, in the end, she was the reason my mother was here and because no matter how much she hated me, she was always going to be my family.
Holding the bouquet of flowers in both my hands, I contemplated placing it on her grave with the hand she always wanted me to use. But then again, she’d not accepted me when she was alive. I didn’t think that one act of her wish would change matters.
With my left hand, I held the flowers out to her soul, still awaiting her acceptance like I knew I would be doing my entire life.