These Hands

neverending story, rock bite, rock eater
“They look like big, good, strong hands. Don’t they?”

My hands are mostly brown, with dusky knuckles and pale nails, and dark lines intersecting over peach-toned palms.

I once envied the evenly-colored, single-toned hands of Caucasian girls until a stranger told me that he loved his hands– because hands as brown as ours built wonders of the world, raised children who bettered the Earth, painted glorious works of art, and wrote the story of the dawning world.

Our hands, my hands– these hands– are part of that heritage.  It is a legacy that shines with beauty.

There is a dot– a beauty-mark, Mom would say– on the index finger of my right hand, above the knuckle.  It looks like it was left by the tip of a fine-tipped ballpoint pen.  Wise men and women from all over the world– some related, some not–  have told me it is the mark of a rolling stone.  I’ve always craved a settled life, but I have lived in 32 homes during my 28 years of life.  I loved every single doorway that welcomed me, but inevitably, destiny pushed me forward and out.

To me, the truth I found in this fable is a reminder to trust in whispered wisdoms.

The mark is a flaw in my skin, but  my hands don’t mind– it tells a story of my journey with Fate. Sometimes we walk together and sometimes she leads, but these hands are safe in her care.

These hands — my hands — have been held by hundreds of people, shaken by tens of thousands.  They were small for what seemed like a very long time, and Dad would share the heat of his large hands by holding mine in his.  His wedding ring flipped around once and nicked the tip of my middle finger on my left hand.  The tiny scar is visible today.  I don’t mind. It reminds me of the warmth in tiny kindnesses.

These hands have held smaller hands, too– and learned how to let go just in time to witness first steps.  When my baby sister babbled her first real words, I closed a sliding glass door on my own hand in shock. My pinky finger is a little crooked to this day, but it doesn’t mind.  It reminds me that we’re all connected, and that we share our big moments.  The blood washed away; the memories won’t.  These hands have been stained many times by blood, and often by ink, and twice by henna.  My first henna design celebrated the joy of being decorated, but the second ceremonially marked my blessing towards my sister’s new married life.  The first stain faded, but the second stain settled into a wound and a bit of it still marks my hand today.

I am okay with the stain, it reminds me of the moment my big sister let go of these hands– my hands.

It was an anxious moment, a big one in a lifetime of medium-sized panic attacks.  Those disheveled nerves are apparent in my nails, unpainted because it makes them easier to bite.  Unpainted because paint is superfluous when they are already so adorned with wrinkles, stains, scars, and memories.  Unpainted because, individually, each of my brothers has confessed the peace he finds in my simplicity.

To them, my modest fingertips are a reassurance that I am quietly capable, safe in my own keeping.   To me, it is a reminder that my hands– these hands — can be trusted to safe-keep the memories of a lifetime.

“They look like big, good, strong hands, don’t they?”

____________________

Weekly Writing Challenge:  The Devil is in the Details: Your challenge this week is to practice your powers of observation. Take any person, place, or event, and write three paragraphs describing your subject in great detail. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/writing-challenge-details/

86 Comments

  1. Wait.. index finger is the one you point with (or pick your nose with) right? I have a beauty mark on the right indexy too!

    Anyhoodle,, you already had me in awe with the Never ending story photo! All time favorite. 😀

    Beautifully written!! Love your hands.. they bring stories and smiles! :).

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  2. If I worried about ‘following the rules’ on every writing challenge – I’d never post anything! This was a beautiful and inspiring response, and the whole point of the challenge is to inspire, so I think you done good, girl!

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  3. ❤ this post

    "The first stain faded, but the second stain settled into a wound and a bit of it still marks my hand today."

    OMG! *That's* probably what happened to my hand too! I had no idea why I had this weird small brown spot. Was it a freckle that I just didn't notice until recently? (I also thought it might be skin cancer.) No. This is more likely. (I had a henna thing before my wedding. My husband is Persian.) Thanks for clearing this up for me!

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  4. RAWR!!! What a curiously wonderful story. And also, how odd. I do not choose to post or publish any of my prose, however…

    Herein is an odd moment of synchronicity: One of the characters about which I write–one of three who share the same time-line and whose lives are tightly woven together–is based on someone I know (as often such characters are, as I am privileged to know a number of most interesting people)

    This young lady, for still quite young she is, as is the character who is based on her life. All in all, she has the bearing of some kind of exotic princess; as I have often so commented. She has quite dark skin, though certainly not the darkest I have ever seen–as, oddly does another friend of mine–and therefore has hands as you above describe.

    Or would have, I should say. There is something in her aesthetic sense that has, in the past, vexed her to some degree regarding this strangely non uniform phenomenon (as she puts it) So she has taken it upon herself to modify them–her feet also. (somehow, for she will not say exactly how she has done so) I have no idea what method she uses to do this. Whether it is some kind of dye or somehow something permanent. And as I mentioned, she will not say; choosing instead to invoke a lady’s prerogative. I do not believe it to be any kind of make-up, or something quite that ephemeral, because I have felt her hands on occasion, and have been touched by them as well; and they feel quite as a normal young girl’s hands might feel.

    I have, though not obsessively, looked into how this might be done. I have found very little despite the vastness of the internet. I at first thought It might be some kind of henna, but my research there, though admittedly, not exhaustive, indicates that it would be quite difficult to match colours using henna. I thought perhaps I might find something among models or actresses and/or their make-up artists, as I am fairly sure I have seen such colour matching as I describe here and there in a film or two. But other than these kind of unfounded suppositions, I still have no idea how she has done it, because I must say her hands do indeed look perfectly matched as any disparately coloured and differently textured, yet unerringly adjacent things might be.

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    1. Synchronicity is amazing! 🙂 *hugs* Thank you for sharing this story. I would love to read some of your prose someday, I have a feeling it’s as eloquently and smoothly written as your comment, even. I would also love to know what she used to color match, and I’d also love her to know that the non-uniform phenomena is a shared heritage. Somehow that helped me find peace with it. 🙂

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      1. You are quite welcome. Also strangely, and having nothing to do with any of this, is that my first impression of you–the reptile behind the curtain, so to speak–upon reading your refrigerator door anecdote as well as the story containing “Mom, we’re not THAT kind of Indian!” (I’m sure I am paraphrasing)… in any case I thought you might have been–at the time of those writings, or perhaps some great vividness in these accounts somehow allowing you to recapture earlier times–a young boy of perhaps 10 or 11 years of age. I cannot quite say what exactly made me think that, however a bit more poking around on your very enjoyable site soon disabused me of that false notion.

        I would love to read some of your prose someday, I have a feeling it’s as eloquently and smoothly written as your comment, even.

        You might, or you might not find it so. I write such stories with a very different voice from my own–this, that you read here. It would no doubt be surprising at the very least. And these three characters I briefly mentioned have very different voices. Quite distinct from one another.

        I would also love to know what she used to color match,

        As would I! In fact her reticence or demure refusal in this, I have also made part of the character as well.

        and I’d also love her to know that the non-uniform phenomena is a shared heritage. Somehow that helped me find peace with it.

        Truly, this is a most kind and generous wish. I believed very strongly, and, of late, know for a fact, that she has no such embarrassment. Some, though not many, people are completely or mostly self-referencing, in that they do… what they do… for their own reasons, and for themselves alone. This is not the norm among our species, I do know, but there are those… and being one of them myself, and being married to another of them, I tend to gravitate to such people. I suppose one might say I tend to “collect” them!

        The young lady in question is not of Indian descent; however her African ancestry comes to us in a most unusual way, as her family would have been here (in the U.S.) only three generations, I believe, Both her parents having been born here, or at the very least, raised here from very early on–I apologise for not remembering exactly which. Yet her background due to her parents’ profession, is quite varied owing to quite a bit of travel ranging from Ireland where she was born (although technically on U.S. soil) and finally to here, taking a rather circuitous path. This gives her a rather unique set of heritages and It is quite safe to say she is not ashamed or uncomfortable with any of them!

        When I wrote that it had to do with her aesthetic sense, I meant that quite literally. She simply enjoys the absence of her own notice. It is, as she puts it, the difference between noticing something and not noticing anything. If you ever met her, you would see immediately what I mean. Everything about her is like this. One only notices something that does not match. If something matches, or goes well, such as ones demeanour and ones voice, or ones mode of dress, one doesn’t notice that.

        For example, my palms match the rest of my complexion more than most anyone else as I am much more fair-skinned than most anyone I have ever met, I am not albino, but I do not tan at all. My skin is bone white. In that way, nobody has ever noticed that my palms don’t match my hands. They might only notice if they didn’t, in some way match. It has never even occurred to me in that way, until your account above. The matter of our friend’s palms never sparked such a thought in my mind.

        She is, in some ways, very much like my sweetheart: They are two peas in the same pod, birds of a feather, &c.

        I dearly think I have gone on far far far too long on this subject! I’ll leave it there!

        Always a pleasure.

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  5. Wow…that was stunning. There is no wrong in inspiration. That is what the prompt inspired you to write and if it doesn’t get Freshly Pressed, I’ll be amazed.

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  6. The writing challenges are like the awards in a way, right? There to get us started but we don’t need to follow all of the rules… I didn’t write about a person, place or event either, though I did stick with the three paragraphs to help me moderate how much I wrote. Your response is truly amazing. Though, as a dinosaur, I was sort of expecting a mention of your claws…???

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  7. Ooh, writing challenges! I love them, but I agree with DJMatticus about the rules…er, guidelines. And besides, your post uses your hands as a focus, but to me it’s really about Rara and the things that have made you into yourself. So it is about a person after all…well, a dinosaur person.

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  8. Lovely, beautiful, wonderful piece. I love hands, all hands, in all their many manifestations. Thank you for this.

    And as for prompts – their only purpose is to get you writing. If your writing takes a completely different turn, well then, that’s where your writing takes you and the prompt got you started. Way to trust your voice.

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    1. Thank you, Amy! 🙂 I have an odd relationship with hands… they tell so much of a person’s story, so I never know how to react to seeing them upclose. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words!

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  9. I love how you turn scars and accidents into memories and reminders of love and connectedness. Your hands sound like a good metaphor for life.
    I also want to hear more about this amazing stranger who gave you wisdom and self-love.
    Beautiful as always, Rara. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo
    p.s.
    I knew you wouldn’t be able to stay away for a whole week. 🙂

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    1. 😀 I know, I’m terribly addicted, haha! That’s okay, though… there are worst things to be addicted to. 🙂 I even have a picture of my stranger! It would make for a fun post… I’ll queue it up. 😀

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  10. Great post, Rara!! BTW, I just have to let you know, every time I scroll down to comment on a post of yours and I see “Rawr?” there about the box I laugh like a little child. I have no idea why, but I thought you should know.

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  11. Oh, I’m too “up to my (AHEM!) in alligators” to participate – gotta keep my fan base happy! Plus, I love hearing all the stories out there, so much world to learn about.
    I really like your take – the marks on your hands are memories. I’ve got a TON of scars on my hands – I’ve done a lot of hands-on work, even though I can be quite the klutz. I’ve got scars from tightening chain-link fences, chopping at trees with a hatchet, and a whole network carved by the various kitties in my life. I can tell you pretty much where each one came from, and how – and because of that, I wouldn’t want smooth, clear skin. I have the same take on “signs of aging” on women’s faces – I find the lines far more interesting than the baby-smooth cheeks of models and fashionistas.
    Like I said above, so many stories…. 😉

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    1. Awww, kitty scars are the best. 🙂 It shows we’re loved by a furry creature. I agree about the wrinkles… I trust someone with wrinkles far faster than someone without…. because the proof of their personality is on their face! 🙂

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  12. You had me at the rockbiter from The NeverEnding Story. 🙂 They do look like big strong good hands. I remember the day I looked down and saw ‘my mother’s knuckles.’ It is now a running joke in our family, but was remarkable for me.

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    1. I had that moment just a week ago! It’s partially what inspired this post. 🙂 There’s something about the skin, despite the fact that I’m several shades darker than my mom, that reminded me of my mom’s hand. I’ve always loved her hands, so I completely understand the remarkable-ness of the moment. 🙂 Thank you!!

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  13. Our hands tell a story they say… and yours are good story tellers… wonderful hands probably envied by many… by the way DIANASSCHWENK sent me over and I’m so glad she did…

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  14. I loved this essay immensely – a look at your hands. I remember the part in “Neverending Story” when the rock giant talks about his big, strong hands as his world disappears around him.
    Sorry I’m late, I’m getting caught up with blogs.

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    1. 🙂 No worries on the lateness… (1) I’ve been on a bloggy-vacation so I’ve only been able to pop in and out and (2) your comments are appreciated and wonderful no matter when they come. I’m glad you know the NeverEndingStory– it’s fabulous. 😀 Thank you!!

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        1. Right?!!! Ah, Steven’s blog is awesome all the time… but that picture just about made me faint from jealousy, haha, glad you enjoyed it too! 😀

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  15. So moving and beautiful to the very last line…made me cry. Our hands, strong enough to withheld the pain and amazingly gentle to lend the most tender touch. Thank you for reminding us of the beauty of our hands.

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  16. This is beautiful. I love your style of writing. (I had already been “following” you, but with an extra boost from TwinDaddy I was able to discover some particular gems of yours.)

    I have a beauty mark in the same spot, only on my left ring finger. Mine looks like the finest brush from a ballpoint pen, too. It matches one my father has in the same spot. Interesting. 🙂

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