Holes Made Elsewhere By Namita
I. It is Brahmin tradition to pierce the ears of newborns, expelling negative energy from the body. Your grandfather is insistent on the ceremony, but your father refuses; he does not want anyone making decisions about your body other than you. Your ears remain unpierced. The evil is not let out.
II. When you play Pretty Pretty Princess for the first time, you are handed a pair of clip-on plastic blue earrings. They dig into your skin and get caught in your hair, but you keep them there. At the end of the game, you find small red scars on both earlobes. You hope that if you play enough, you might be able to make holes.
III. You catch your mother looking through her jewelry drawer wistfully one day, opening and closing small boxes. She turns to you and smiles. “Who will I give all my earrings to?” she asks.
You do not have an answer.
IV. You count four holes in your grandmother’s face: both ears and both nostrils. Her piercings are linked by a fine chain, and you wonder what it feels like to have so many empty spaces in a body.
V. Your sister does not want to get her ears pierced. Your sister wants to wear jeans to Indian parties and she does not want coconut oil rubbed on her face. Your sister refuses to braid her hair carefully at the nape of her neck. But your sister keeps pictures of gods in her room, and your mother praises her for that.
VI. By the time you are in 8th grade, your ears have become anomalous. “Never?” girls ask you incredulously. “Never,” you say, and you like the way the word tastes in your mouth.
VII. Your mother buys you clip on earrings for your high school graduation. You leave them in the car.
VIII. You are 20 the first time you hear the story of your father and your grandfather and your unmarred ears. Your mother tells it at the dinner table, and your father blushes. “Aren’t I lucky I married him?” she asks. That night, you stand in front of the mirror for hours, turning from one side to the other. You are glad for the choices you have been given. You are glad for the choices you did not make.
IX. There is a revolution both between your ears, and do not believe there is only one way to let it out.