I know you’re thinking, she’s come back after ages with promises of intellectual stuff, and throws this at us? Yes, my dear reader, exactly that. Why? Because it’s true. They should NOT.
I’ll tell you why. There’s the obvious; hygiene. But there’s another, less appreciated reason. There’s nothing more painful when your mouth is full of sharp pointy tools and you are at the mercy of the beholder of all the tools. And then at the exact moment you decide to trust in Allah and the dentist, there is this excruciating pain in your gum. Exactly at that moment, your dentist, concentrating elsewhere, subconsciously puts immense pressure on your gums through their…. nails? If you try to cry out in pain, the dentist will still be unable to see the source of pain and you will look like a yelping idiot.
Everyone says dentist appointments hurt. True; but what ACTUALLY hurts are AFTER-appointments. You know the feeling; that feeling as if all your teeth are about to fall out. You can’t eat anything, you can only swallow. You look at food longingly, dreaming of the days you used to eat freely. And then you see something utterly despicable and entirely unacceptable: your sibling does not finish their plate of food at dinner. Those lowly peasants, so ungrateful! Finishing food being a sensitive subject with you, you unleash your ultimate weapon: The Death Stare. It is conveniently ignored.
Such acts take you back to your childhood; a space better left unvisited. Remembering dinner times reminds you of all the unresolved trauma you have deep inside you. The times when you would chew for hours on end long after everyone had left the table. You’d still be chewing when the table would be cleared and cleaned. You’d still be chewing when the dishes were being washed, dried and put away. That would be when the Punishment would be ordered: “Ab tum apna khana kitchen mein kharay ho kr finish karo gi.” (Now you will stand in the kitchen until you finish your food.)
A tear stained face (yours probably, although it’s best for you to tell others this vivid memory is rather blurred), looked up in the face of this merciless oppressor: thy mother. Whining and crying only strengthened her in her oppression. There was no other option. Chew in the uninviting, cold kitchen and hear the news in the other room as your siblings laugh and play amongst themselves happily. Your mother is probably secretly crying too about how you never seem to eat, but you don’t find that out until years later.
Years later, someone seems to make fun of the way your plate of food is polished and looks so clean it’s as if you didn’t even eat. Look thoughtfully away out of the window of the café and let that feeling of eating alone standing up in the kitchen let a shiver run down your spine. Then look towards them and smile and tell them to stop wasting their food as rudely as possible. That is the only way to not let anyone ever know of your torturous past.
Years after that, you stand in the kitchen cleaning up, and laugh about the whole thing with the merciless oppressor; thy mother. It sounds absurd (though it is still traumatizing) and you wonder what other absurd moments in life are you classifying as traumatizing at the moment? It is with this thought that you enter the dentist’s clinic, and as she begins, it clicks. You might be crying like an idiot as the pain intensifies, and the dentist scolds you for it, but deep inside, there’s only one thought: Dentists Should Not Have Long Nails.