Saturday, 7 February 2015

I got my first ever tattoo yesterday. It was Feb 6, 2015. We started at 4.30pm. My artist's name is Sandip aka Sandy & his studio is in Mulund. I wore a pink gunjee & a shirt, denims & new sneakers. And I was accompanied by Ramya.

It took three hours.

I did not yell. I did not cry. I cringed & winced. I may have wrung Ramya's hands a few times in pain. I apologised. I swore a bit.

I have Kaali & Shiva on my left forearm.

This is real. This finally happened. I have waited almost 15 years to get a tattoo. And now, it's mine. I sometimes look down at it to check if it really happened.

I wanted a tattoo that I could see. Because I got it for myself. Putting a tattoo in a place you cannot see is the inking equivalent of choosing a career so you can flaunt it. Tattoos are for life. They are a stamp on your body. Your body is your only dependable home in this lifetime. And putting something on it for the sake of anybody but yourself is a humongous mistake.

It's barely been 24 hours and it already feels like a part of me that's always been there. A few people have asked me what it signifies. I have told them I am Bengali & we worship Kali. Most of them have accepted this as a solid reason. Only two people on this planet know the exact, completely real reason why I got this tattoo. One of them is me. The other is the man. We will probably take the reason to our funeral pyres. I told part of the reason to Ramya. Kaali has always felt like me, who I am and what I can be.

Some people have leapt up & said "hey, this is so you!" They have an idea but the real picture is a lot more esoteric.

I was very stoked about this tattoo before I got it. Several reasons; it's a sketch by one of my favourite authors & mythologists, Devdutt Pattanaik. It's Kaali. It'd scandalise my in-laws, which is a reaction I usually have a lot of fun seeing unfold. It'd also piss my mum off, which is a much more responsive reaction than ignoring me, which is what she has been doing these days. And finally, because I have always wanted a tattoo, long before it became the big rage, it felt good that I was finally gonna have my own.

By the time the day arrived, I was most solemn about the process. It felt like a very real ritual, something to be taken seriously, something to be honored, cherished & if possible, fathomed. I no longer cared about how my in-laws would react, I did not care if mum saw it, I did not bother with details. I read about precautions, saw a doc & went right ahead. I sat through the pain, penetrating through its layers, seeing it transform from just pain to wave after wave of an awareness: I have a body, it is mine, and it can transcend pain. I also realised it is possible to get addicted to pain; after a point, it feels normal, natural, like the ebb and flow of life in your veins. Is that how victims are born? I also realised there is no good pain or bad pain, just pain that you can handle & pain that you cannot. Is that how Siddhartha realised all of life is suffering?

I was getting a tattoo for me. Everything else was a by-product. I will not flaunt my tattoo. I won't wear clothing so that I can reveal it - I will wear what I feel like. I will not keep talking about my tattoo. I will treat it like a limb: a completely natural, normal part of me. Because it is.

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