The Gift

By Kath

One birthday my oldest daughter gave me a very small, square shaped parcel.  Inside I found a wooden box with a brass elephant inlaid on the lid and inside that a pair of screw on pearl drop ear rings.  I was surprised, both by the present and by the instant delight I felt in seeing it.  I had never worn ear rings despite my children often trying to persuade me.  I had decided they would not suit me and the idea of having holes made in my ears was far too alarming.

Our daughters had all badgered to have their own ears pierced from an early age.  We had decided, for reasons I cannot now remember, that eleven would be the appropriate age and so it became a small rite of passage in their lives.  No child I knew had their ears pierced when I was young.  Those that did were the children of travellers or of the Italian immigrants who came to Peterborough in the fifties to work in the brick yards.  Needless to say, the prejudices of the times meant our parents did not see them to be appropriate role models.

So I took to wearing my new ear rings and the next birthday, my fiftieth, Mike and I went to Edinburg for the weekend and there we found a jeweller’s shop where I could have my ears pierced.  The pain was sharp but brief and there were my ears, enhanced by two gold studs.  This was most exciting but unfortunately during the next week, despite all the twirling of the studs and the application of diluted TCP, my right ear started to redden and swell.  We had some friends round for the evening on Saturday and, feeling my ear throbbing slightly, I asked Hugo if he would mind casting his medical eye over it for me.

Instantly everything changed.   Hugo became serious, professional – a doctor.  He examined my ear.  I became meek, submissive – a patient.  I awaited his diagnosis.  Fortunately the prognosis was good.  The infection was not serious; the ear would get better on its own.  I did not need to remove the stud.  The spell was broken.  We rejoined the general conversation and became our normal, equal, social selves.

Now I have lots of ear rings, many of them gifts.  I put a pair on first thing every morning and take them off last thing at night.  I keep the little wooden elephant box and its contents on my chest of drawers, the symbol of a minor transformation.

Read more about Kath


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