How to Pierce Your Granddaughter's Ears

Ask your granddaughter to wait until she is ten.

When the time comes, seek the consent of her mother, your hard-working daughter-in-law.

Pull out the thinnest needle, cotton thread, and a lump of beeswax from your sundry box. Rub wax on the thread to make it strong and then run it through the needle’s eye. Hold the needle in the flame of a candle to sterilize it.

Sit the ten-year-old on a stool in the breeze of your table fan. Tie up her hair and dot each delicate earlobe with your ballpoint pen. Give her candy to suck on.

Place your pet parrot on the girl’s arm and teach it some tunes. Let her feed it hot peppers to sharpen its tongue.

While whistling a tune, push the needle quickly and smoothly in with your right hand, stretching the lobe with the left. Cut the thread and tie its ends while blowing on the red lobe.

“Bahadur girl. Bewaqoof parrot.” Let your roaring laughter drown the pain.

Repeat.

 The author's grandfather immaculately dressed

The author's grandfather immaculately dressed

Each month, dress up and trim your beard for going to the bank for your pension. Your granddaughters will ask you to get laddoos. 

Save ten rupees each month per girl for gold earrings—60 rupees in total.

Gold is on a rise but your life isn’t. Only two of the six have gold in their ears when you die.

You cannot fill all the holes in one lifetime.

 

 

- Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar is an Indian American. She was born in a middle-class family in India and will forever be indebted to her parents for educating her beyond their means. She now lives in the United States. Her life is blessed with plenitude but she is oceans away from her family. That pain makes her write and express herself. Her work has been published in Ms Magazine blog, The Same, The Aerogram, The Sidereal, Star 82 Review among others. She blogs at PunyFingers.

How to Rag Curl Hair

Start with a cloth: an old T-shirt, a ripped pillowcase. Scissors, the good ones you hide in your sewing chest to keep them from being dulled on construction paper and those plastic packages that make you cry with frustration.

Cut the cloth into longish strips.

Wash and comb your daughter’s hair. Use no-tears shampoo and a wide-toothed comb. They won’t keep her hair from snarling or prevent the wailing that follows, but denial is as important in this endeavor as in all things.

She has your grandmother’s hair, identical to the locks that nestle between the pages of the old books packed into the cedar chest your father made you. It cracked when your husband moved you out West. Things break sometimes, but it doesn’t mean you love them any less.

While the hair is still damp, grasp a small section. Slide a strip of cloth to the very ends and roll the hair up into a tight curl. Knot the ends of the strip together in a single, simple twist. Make it tight, so that it can’t easily be undone. There are things you wish you could undo, but this isn’t one of them.

When you have curled all her hair, let the child sleep. Kiss her. Sing her a lullaby. Tell her a story where everyone winds up happy. There’s no need to alarm her.

In the morning, release everything and shake out the curls. Admire your hard work.

It will be undone again by evening.

 

- Lisa Péré is a freelance writer and editor with too many pets and not enough time. Her specialties are mortifying teenagers and indulging in hyperbole. She is uniquely bad at housekeeping. She lives happily in Colorado, with her two children and a plethora of Oxford commas.

 

How to Take Your Medication

Place the small glass bottle on top of your desk. Unwrap a sterile syringe. Do not bother with the alcohol wipes. Roll the bottle between your hands a few times mixing the medicine. Draw some air into the syringe. Plunge the needle into the bottle and draw out the insulin. Talk the entire time. There's a girl you know. Yesterday she told you a story about a fight she had with her parents over a boy she loves and they disapprove of. Repeat her story with so much passion and pathos it becomes your story. Do not bother washing your hands or wiping the injection site. Pinch 3 inches of your sparse abdomen. Change the subject. You rotate your shoes every day so that they don't get old and smell funky. Your brother may give you a job in his auto body shop and find you an apartment. Plunge the needle into your flesh. You changed the spark plugs and wires in your car last week, it took you less than a half hour. You may not want an apartment, you're comfortable here in the basement of your mom and her new husband; you like being near your little sister. Push the plunger of the syringe releasing the medication. Leave the needle in your flesh for a few seconds so that no insulin escapes. Remove the needle. Pull your shirt down over the injection site. Stand up. Root around for change in the pocket of your jeans. Open a bureau drawer that is already heavy with quarters, pennies, nickels and dimes. Say that when you reach $500 you'll fix up an old motorcycle and ride it across the country.

- Teresa Giordano writes non-fiction television programs on topics ranging from earwigs to forensic anthropology, to the southwest border, to bad-ass presidents. She’s also crafted dialogue for some of those reality TV stars you think are being spontaneous. She’s published fiction in Devilfish Review, Pyschopomp, and in an echapbook titled Strange Encounters. She’s published non-fiction in The Weeklings. 

This is the second of three of Giordano's entries on Dead Housekeeping this week. The first was "How to Put Your Mind at Rest Each Night," here.

Wax

Who cleans the wax out of your ears? My mom used to. She would make me lie next to her on the couch, head in her lap, one ear facing up, while she used the head of a safety pin to scrape the inside walls of my ear. Then she would pull out the pin with its clump of yellowish goo and drag it across the top of my hand, leaving the small spot of wax to rest there, intact. 

She would repeat this until my hand hosted a constellation of little clumps. Then it was time for my next ear. In the end, we had visual proof of how much she had taken out. It satisfied us both, the whole process. It is one of the greatest forms of intimacy I have ever known, and every time I do what I know doctors have been telling us not to do for eons, every time I stick something like a pin or a bobby pin or a q-tip in my ear I feel the absence of my mother, the absolute safety of having someone else in charge.

 image provided by the author

image provided by the author

- Caroline Allen has been a lecturer at the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara for over 25 years. Her work has appeared in Solo Novo, Lumina, Mary, Spectrum, Into the Teeth of the Wind, and The Santa Barbara Independent, among others. She has work forthcoming in Juxtaprose and Forge. She is also a painter. Her website is carolineallenstudio.com.