I never had a thing for nose piercings. Maybe because my maa and grandma always insisted on me getting one when I was a kid in school. Their logic was it hurts less when you are a child because your skin is soft and thin, while mine was that it ensures a direct entry into the loser club! It was just all kinds of uncool. So, we left it at that.
A decade later when I was in college, suddenly nose piercings rose to newfound fame among young women and became quite a “cool” rage. They were as popular as getting your hair colored - and every day a new girl would walk in flaunting her tiny silver ring, sparkling in the light.
I had a change of heart. What had seemed revolting to me earlier now looked too pretty to not try. And so on a lazy Sunday morning, I found myself at my mom’s regular jeweller, ready to get my nose pierced.
The guy at the jewellers led me into a small room behind his shop and picked up some scary looking tools to get to work. He told me I’d have to live with a ring for now, instead of a fancy stud. Reluctantly, I agreed. Then he went on to apply some oil, asked me about my college, and suddenly I experienced this unbearable pain searing through my nose. The dude had pierced my skin using the sharpened end of the ring (the horror!). It must have lasted only a few seconds, but it felt like much longer. He smiled conspiratorially at my mum and told me, “Relax. It’s over.” He then warned me against eating chickpeas and anything fried for a good two weeks.
I was extremely careful and only wanted to rid myself of the ring and get a pretty stud in its place. Even a slight brush against my piercing got me shrieking. It was a week later, when instead of healing, the skin around my piercing started turning reddish black, infused with pus, that my mom realised that it had gotten infected. So much for avoiding fried food!
Well, I had no other option but to go through another session of pain, this time to pull the damn ring out. And three days later, the swelling and marks had vanished - it was almost like I had never gotten a piercing at all.
You’d think that would put an end to my love for piercings. But no! A few months later, I let my mom convince me to go to this “magical” woman who could pierce through the toughest of skin and never let an infection brew. I should have known better, but I didn’t! And so I went in to get a piercing done for the second time. This woman was magical in the way that she said many prayers over my head, before catching me off my guard and piercing my nose with a pretty stud this time. Yes, it hurt bad, but God that stud... I felt beautiful wearing it. It made my otherwise crooked nose look pretty, and that for me, wasn’t short of any magic. I inspired many other people to get a nose piercing done too, and a week later they had pretty studs in place, while I… I got infected again.
In the next three years to come, I tried to get my nose pierced 5 more times, from 5 different places, bearing just as much pain and, unfortunately, the same result. I would be happy and hopeful for a week - but would always end up with an infection soon.
Even that didn’t put an end to my madness. I am not making this up, but I did go in for a nose piercing a sixth time. Blame the friend who made me hopeful about her dermatologist, and blame the derma for convincing me that his clinical degrees and instruments would make the impossible happen. So there I was, on a stretcher, under blinding neon lights, with nurses anaesthetising me and the doc surveying my facial skin. With his clinical tools and elaborate methods, he got me a piercing done. It didn’t hurt me physically, but burnt a hole in my pocket with his enormous fee, followed by the many creams and medicines he suggested. A week later, I was a few thousand rupees poorer and infected yet again! Well, that was it.