By Aashika Ravi
When I was in the second grade, the boy who was assigned the seat next to me asked for a change of seating arrangement, because our elbows kept bumping into each other while writing and he was beyond frustrated. Imagine my outrage when the teacher not only accepted his absurd reason, she also moved me to the darkest corner of the class where backbenchers go to die. How could I suck up to the teachers and be a straight-A student from this far back? It felt like a punishment for simply using a different hand.
Unfortunately, this turned out to be a recurring theme in my left-handed life. I developed a mild persecution complex, truly believing that all machines and implements were designed with the sole aim of hurting me.
For kids like us, who walked around with perennial ink smudges on what I’ve now been informed is called the ‘ulnar side’ of the hand, kids like us who made annoying bench mates, our only saving grace was the ‘fact’ that we were supposed to be superior in intellect. Throughout childhood, I’d heard the “Don’t you know left-handers are better at logic and reasoning? You must be great at science and math.” And since I was neither, I felt left out from the Leftie Squad also. This was the equivalent of being told that having bird crap on your head meant good luck for the rest of the day. You could say I felt I was being given a left-handed compliment.
As I grew up, leftiness meant fingers benumbed from being squeezed into the unreasonably tiny holes in scissors. It meant my mum trying and failing miserably to teach me a way to peel a cucumber that didn’t involve literal blood, sweat and tears. I wore a watch on my left hand for five years of my life and continue to do some complex interpretive dance gestures every time I have to open a fridge or car door.
It also meant being forced to eat with my right hand, because as others helpfully explained in hushed tones, “Left hand is your bum-washing hand!”. As a consequence, my left hand now likes to act like it is holding a spoon for the first time if I try to eat from it, and is guaranteed to drop food enroute my mouth just for lolz.
Yet, I feel a sense of solidarity with my fellow left-handers. I have something in common with Marie Curie, Angelina Jolie, Joan of Arc and Helen Keller, and even sporty types like Jwala Gutta and Mary Kom. A collective consciousness of people who have adapted so well to a world designed without them in mind, that their everyday hurdles are no more than minor inconveniences that lend themselves well to tweets and Tumblr posts that we can laugh out loud about and say “Oh my god, saaame!” to.
Today, I am a successful adult with a hatred for scissors and guitars, who types with a single finger (left index) and wishes for the earth to swallow her up anytime someone points this out. I have successfully blended in with the status quo, except for the odd smartass who sees me writing with my left hand and excitedly squeals, “Oh, you’re a leftie?”
Recently my colleagues started saying disparaging things about lefties and I leapt into the fray in outrage. They looked at me puzzled and said, “But we are lefties, too.” No, you are not, I snarled. Eventually light dawned and they explained, “left-leaning politically, Aashika, not left-handed.” Oh.
To paraphrase the most iconic sitcom Brooklyn Nine Nine’s most iconic character Gina Linetti, “Not only have I been through hell, I was left-hand man there.”