Monday, 1 December 2014

Run! It’s a keloid!



Leaving a woman’s body alone is the single most difficult task that the world is faced with. If it isn’t about dictating how much skin they show or commenting on how dark the colour of that skin, it is about the marks on it. You know, scars, spots, scabs, specks, stains, and all those tiny-to-big announcements, that a woman’s body is imperfect in some way. Um, defective is another word that comes to mind, especially if I recall their expressions on looking at my keloid.

Heard of keloid? Sounds deadly, doesn’t it? It isn’t, but if the common man’s gaze at my upper chest is to be believed the butterfly shaped keloid there is but the very disease that will bring mankind to its end and let them cockroaches rule. Some withdraw their hands as soon as they see it, disturbing the handshake midway and whispering something like ‘What is that?’ as if they see an alien perched there. Some others, because they like to be right even if rude, pronounce a kind ‘Ugh!’ before they ask me to ‘get it removed, ya!’ Very few have directly asked me (though everyone must have thought of this), with bated breath and the adrenal gland ready for flight, ‘Are they contagious?’ The list of those asking me to ‘keep it covered, why show it’ is the longest, but going by the dimwitted gaze my butterfly invites I guess they must mean well. Plus, how confusing I used to find it once to figure out what exactly they were staring at! 

Only one asked me to get a funky tattoo around it and flaunt its exclusivity. Him I married, even though the idea was ‘preposterous!’ according to a medical doctor (Of the tattoo, not the marriage!).

In short, if my keloid had eyes it would either be squirming with all the unwanted attention or have been a properly spoilt brat by now. Except, it isn’t anything more than collagen cells out camping under a shiny, red ‘tent’. In summers the cells hold a BBQ party and gosh it itches whereas most other times they hate to be disturbed and prick at the slightest rub of a necklace or seatbelt. Funny ones, these guys, who have successfully baffled doctors I consulted as to their mysterious appearance. No injury, no surgery, and I’m not even from the highly pigmented ethnic groups which are 15 times more likely to get them. Anyway, some suspense in life is good!

What isn’t good? This obsession with perfection we seek in others

Remember when the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai put on baby weight and we went ballistic creating humour around her more-rounded personality? We had so much time on our hands, yet not a second to spare to give a second look to our own loving mothers’ girths at home. With puckered noses we pronounce ‘Madhuri looks so old now’ and with equally crinkled noses we say ‘What has Sri Devi done to her face!’ Why go Stardust? Look around in your park! Someone’s baby has unfortunately got his mother’s wheatish complexion, someone’s daughter-in-law has hair like a broom, someone’s daughter needs to mind her weight and yet another’s needs to put some on around her thighs or else ‘they will say your parents don’t feed you’. One was pushed for Lasik to get her spectacles removed the other is struggling to hide her acne under a ton of concealer. And in the process, the little girl who got a burn mark on her arm because she was keeping her kid brother from getting hurt by the hot iron is gradually feeling ashamed of having got it! 

Some scars can have stories. No, actually all scars do!

I remember reading at a popular handloom store how every missed knot in the knit, an extra print or a change in the thread’s sequence is not imperfection but simply a part of pattern which need not fit convention. Like a break, a breather and a point to celebrate. Much like marks and scars on our bodies. African American writers have celebrated those in their works and on their characters as symbols of not just struggle but also survival. A fading whip lash on the back, slashes near the lip where the bit was used or wounds on shoulders carrying the white man’s harvest.

Remove layers of your own clothing and make-up. Bare your own shoulders and tanned backs and look closer at your stretch-marked legs. You will feel so free you will wonder if we really need to cover the countless signs our lives and roles have left on our very human bodies. Is there reason to feel ashamed? Even more, is there reason to make others feel ashamed, enough to scar their minds?

I had no idea when I first spotted a tiny red mound near my neck that it wasn’t a spider lick or a mosquito bite gone wrong. I had no idea it would grow and grow and eventually ‘grow wings’ and become what they call a butterfly keloid for the world to see. But most importantly, I had no idea how an inch of collagen on the neck could become my personal touchstone to know real concern from fake reactions, and real people from all the rest. Perhaps that is why it is called a Butterfly Keloid. If helped fly my mind away from the unabashed and limiting gaze that women’s bodies live surrounded with and find reason to accept and be proud of my own skin.

So saying it once and for all, yes, I love to bare my keloid to the world! Want to know more? I’m thinking of wearing a boob tube and low waist pants to walk around flaunting my C-sec mark, among others. Is there a 6-stitches long surgery keloid there too? Hey, does it matter? It’s a scar.

A SCAR!

Just run for your lives, will you?


[Written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts. The prompt for today was  - Tattoo … you? - Do you have a tattoo? If so, what’s the story behind your ink? If you don’t have a tattoo, what might you consider getting emblazoned on your skin?]

32 comments:

  1. Oops I thought it was a tattoo too! I thought it was very bold (not to mention painful) to have got it done right there

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    1. When the keloid started it looked like a love bite, and people would give me put-some-calamine-girl looks. :D Hopefully, there will be tattoo I can get around it one day.

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  2. Loved this, " how every missed knot in the knit, an extra print or a change in the thread’s sequence is not imperfection but simply a part of pattern which need not fit convention. Like a break, a breather and a point to celebrate." Yes, every scar has a story.
    Being of incurably dirty mind, I can't help but ask, "Are you sure it's not a love bite? "

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    1. I am very sure, Alka. After all these years I am. :D
      Yes, the poster said something like that. I just paraphrased the idea. I liked it a lot too.
      Thanks for reading!

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  3. Well looks like the keloid helped in making your life interesting, zeroing in on your life partner and also being the subject of a post on your blog. What more can you expect from him/her? ;)

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    1. Keloid was one of the things that helped me in 0-ing in on my husband, true that. :D
      No dearth of subjects for the blog but certainly of subjects who would appreciate the sentiment in this post.
      Hm, expectations are sky high. I expect it to finally become tattoo-friendly one day. :D

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  4. Any and everything that is not your own is always subject to public scrutiny. Almost always, it's the well-groomed who make it a point to point out others' flaws, never mind that they're camouflaging their own flaws under truckloads of makeup or moneyloads of treatment.

    Well written. Also, I love how you chose to write about keloids rather than tattoos. You rock!

    Cheers
    CRD

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    1. Well, yes, that's another interesting perspective, CRD.
      Thanks. I carry it like a tattoo. :D
      Glad you liked this.

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  5. People who fear that widowhood and infertility are contagious can go to any bounds. I stopped wearing sarees till a few years ago because one of my loved ones was ashamed of my stretch marks that her in-laws might have seen. I didn't tell anyone but it pained. I adore those stretch marks because I craved for my girls. And I don’t think it is anybody's business to comment on what we should wear, we should look like or we should bare. This probably is only half of what you've experienced courtesy your keloid. Honestly, I thought it was a burn mark. It wasn't important enough for me to ask and hence never bothered to. I am sure it is a good luck sign. You know something that they call a 'nazar battoo'.

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    1. I know where your comment is coming from, Rekha. I totally understand every bit of it. Just like you have correctly guessed that this is not even half the story. :)
      'I am sure it's a good luck sign' - excellent idea to gift me, Rekha. Thank you for this. :D

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  6. Lovely post Sakshi. Honestly, we need to learn to leave others alone - whether someone wants to flaunt or hide or get rid of or get fixed or whatever - it's nobody elses business.

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    1. Most things which need not be another's business are by default their business. I guess we are all flying business-class here. :D
      Thanks for liking this, Tulika. Feels good to have written it.

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  7. my daughter has a portwine birthmark and is furious about comments it elicits

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    1. She has a right to be. I hope she too hurls stuff at those who comment? :D

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  8. Such a lovely post, Sakshi! Coming to terms with our own imperfections would probably make us less obsessed with those of others around us. Each scar tells a tale, and I know I have many 'defects', both visible to the world as well as hidden; all a part of the human being that is me!

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    1. Absolutely right, Dipali. I think we obsess with others because we obsess with our own 'given' idea of perfection. While the latter we keep secret in salons, the former we mouth like a birth right. :)
      All part of being human, exactly!
      Thanks for liking this. Always good to hear your feedback.

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  9. And I finally get to read about them :)
    Mad props to A for his point of view on them

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    1. "Mad props to A" - auto correct causing confusion or am I still sleep-lagged at 7 am in the morning? :D
      Thank you. I have to say you did play a part in getting my grey cells ticking. :D

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  10. Sakshi Nanda, this brilliant piece is a tight slap to the morons of the world. Well done, lady:)

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    1. Thanks. Didn't mean to slap, just put my point across. If it feels like a slap to them, their problem. :D

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  11. I can't say I have any imperfections at all that people stare at. I'm absolutely perfect! Even the paunch is really quite natural for someone my age. On everyone else it is a ghastly thing worthy of eye rolls and sneers, though.

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    1. You are perfect. Just look at your DPs. So versatile, you manage to look different all the time. And the 'natural' belly doesn't even show! Wonderful to know you, Slo. :D

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  12. People who mock so called 'imperfections' on others' body merely expresses their own fears..
    Coming to terms with my own scars and marks is so liberating ...
    Great post Sakshi ..

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  13. A very good writeup, Sakshi. This mad obsession with outer perfection and judging everything according to a silly conventional fad of what is beautiful and what is not, what is acceptable and what is not is sadly so much fueled by our money crazy commercial media. And lately men aren't left out either. Well at least we can breathe easy and say the dumbing down is not discriminatory.

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    1. No, men aren't left out either. I agree with you that this 'dumbing down is not discriminatory'.
      Very glad you liked how this was written, Beloo. Thank you :)

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  14. People should really mind their own business, shouldn't they? Sigh! Lovely writeup - as always, Saks. And I echo Rekha's comment on it. Imperfections on the surface are not the problem - it is the imperfections in their minds that make people look at things in their weird-ass way.

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    1. I just needed one word to make my day and that is 'weird-ass way'. I think I will be making a door sign with those words too, or maybe a neck piece with this embossed on it in some format.
      Seems like we were reading each other at the same time. Just dropped by and read your latest. Just superb, Sid.
      Best always.

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  15. First I googled and looked for what a butterfly keloid is. And then actually saw few images where people have got it tattooed in a spectacular way. I say, marry your man again; he is a keeper :)
    I am not a saint. I have been judgmental about people, their imperfections and many times have been pointed out for my own dark wheat complexion. But that's world. You turn around, give a resounding answer like you did in this post and then move on because such comments are just not worth caring for.

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    1. I will marry him again, on our 25th, as the trend is. ;) For now, I will make him read your comment and take me out for Chinese! :D
      As for the rest of your comment - Bingo!
      Thanks, Jas!

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  16. This was really lovely to read, first thing this morning, Sakshi! I liked the authentic voice that came through, simultaneously witty and honest. Looks like the keloid did more for you than you could have expected. And what a good thing that you turned it to your advantage. Well done.

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    1. Here you are, Shailaja. :D You make me happy with the 'authentic voice'. Keloid is better behaved than so many 'friends' so I do keep it close to my heart, literally! :D
      Thank you, again! :)

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