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.


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.


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