This occasion, it calls for the diamond studs. She usually wears earrings that slide down the piercing in the earlobe with minimum work. They don’t fall off. Don’t have tiny parts that need to be held delicately with nimble fingers. As a child she wore tiny studs. When they had to be removed or another pair was to be worn, her mother would sit her on the bed and do the needful. Her mother was of the stern and stubborn opinion that earrings should be worn only while sitting on the bed. Even if the screw fell, it would fall right next to her, instead of rolling off and hiding under some desk.
She used to rebel in her teens, and try wearing the earrings standing up, claiming that her fingers wouldn’t lose the earring screw. But she often dropped them, and had to spend long periods of time, on her knees, waving her hand over the floor to see if they would detect the screw.
She fought with her mother all the time. Over what to wear. Over appearances. Her mother expressed her disapproval in a manner that wasn’t really open to discussion. If they were at a temple, her mother would assertively say “Little girls look so cute in their silk paavadai-sattais ((Paavadai-Sattai: Skirt-Blouse combo.)) and that pottu on their forehead makes them look even more lovely.”. She, in her jeans and tshirt couldn’t compete with the traditional loveliness. She would disagree and tell her mother that the girls looked over-dressed and uncomfortable.
Far away from home, she discovers that little girls do look cute in paavadai-sattais.
She takes a deep breath and prepares to wear her diamond studs. She sits on the bed. Struggling with the clockwise and anticlockwise motions of the screws, secure in the knowledge that even if they were to fall, they would be found easily. And wonders how she turned out so much like her mother.