From a young age, I had decided on two things that I wanted to do after getting my first job – a second ear pierce and a tattoo.
Coming from a typical Telugu Brahmin household, a nose piercing is acceptable because it’s part of our tradition. So a second ear pierce was acceptable. But a tattoo, ABSOLUETLY UNIMAGINABLE!
So as expected, when I told my parents that I wanted to get a tattoo, I received extremely negative responses. My father mocked me and said, “Back in the day, people tattooed their name on their forearm. It helped them find their way in case they got lost in the Kumbh Mela. You don’t need a tattoo! Just use your cellphone and get help!” I very patiently replied to my father’s taunt, “Papa, it’s an art form and it’s an expression of something that I am extremely passionate about. Times have changed!”
Both my father and I turned to my mother in anticipation of a response which would resolve the conflict. My mother said in a hyper tone, “But why do you want it?! Get a temporary tattoo done. Why do you want a permanent scar?” I simply said, “I am getting a permanent tattoo done.”
I always knew I wanted a tattoo and had decided exactly what I wanted. I have always had my way and I knew that this time wouldn’t be any different. However, I wanted my parents to be onboard with the idea. I was a ‘good kid’ (in the conventional sense of the term) with distinction throughout my education and had also landed myself with a great job. This was my gift to myself! And moreover, I was 24! I didn’t want to “run away from home” and get a tattoo done. I wanted to come home and flaunt my tattoo to my family!
I had to accomplish the tedious task of getting them comfortable with the idea. So I started involving my mother for deciding on a design and the placement of the tattoo. Soon, Amma was on board! So the first milestone was achieved.
Finding a tattoo artist was a herculean task considering that I had absolutely no friends (let alone relatives) to guide me. I had zeroed in on an artist with whom I felt comfortable. To me, it was a matter of trust more than the brand of the studio. Tattoo artists use your skin as their canvas and you have to find someone who you can trust one hundred percent.
I was finally set! I had convinced my parents, I had decided on a design, I knew exactly where I wanted it and I had found an incredible artist! Physically getting it done was the only thing left!
So a night before getting the tattoo done, I told my father that I would be coming home with a tattoo the next day after work. He didn’t say a word – that’s an excellent sign in my family, by the way. It indirectly implies that my father had given up on arguing and was unable reason with an “irrational girl”. That’s the most positive response I could have expected considering the fact that I was going to invest time and money on something which would not enhance my intelligence (typical South India logic).
The next day, I came home with a beautiful peacock feather on my wrist which Amma instantly fell in love with (she’ll never agree to that, but I can tell from her mannerisms). She in fact actively helped me in the after care of the tattoo as well. I was the first even in my extended family and my immediate friends circle to get a tattoo done – achievement in a way considering my background.
Whenever people ask me, “How did you manage convince your family?” I always smile and say, “If you’ve convinced yourself, you’ve convinced the whole world”.
I love my tattoo. I love the struggle I had to endure and I’ll never forget Amma’s last desperate attempt to dissuade me from getting my tattoo. Right before I left home, she melodramatically said, “Amulya, good Telugu Brahmin girls don’t do such things!” I replied with a grin, “I was never a good girl Amma!”