By Nina Krishna Warrier
The ongoing pandemic has refocused attention on one of the most important parts of the human body. The hand is in the limelight, again. Today, it’s generally accepted that these are two of the many Covid-19 prevention measures: clean your hands often; cough or sneeze in your bent elbow – not your hands.
Hand it to the Bard to speak so eloquently about the hand: “Here’s the smell of blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” These words are uttered by Lady Macbeth in Act V, Scene 1, of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Overwhelmed by guilt, she has taken to sleepwalking and is in deep distress. She constantly has a candle with her and walks about muttering of the evil she and her husband have committed by murdering King Duncan and Macduff’s family. “Out, damned spot!” she cries, rubbing her hands.
The other famous allusion to the hand is related to football. I am referring to “The hand of God,” a phrase used by the Argentine footballer, Diego Maradona, to describe a football goal he scored in a quarter-final match between Argentina and England during the 1986 FIFA World Cup. Under association football rules, Maradona should have actually received a yellow card for a clear ‘handball’ incident.
The Beatles made it to the top of the charts crooning I wanna hold your hand. On the other hand, a 1987 autobiographical sequel to Indian essayist Nirad C Chaudhuri’s The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian was titled, Thy Hand, Great Monarch. The title of this book was inspired by the concluding couplet of Alexander Pope’s The Dunciad which runs thus:
Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;
And universal Darkness buries All.
Am I handing it to you on a platter? So be it. After all it’s in giving that one receives. Which brings me to another matter at hand. Politicians of all hues believe in the noble philosophy of give and take. We give – be it votes, bribes, et cetera – and they take. Well, it’s okay. This is what Matthew says in 6:3:
So when you give to the needy, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men… But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.
Then there’s this aspect of Bollywood – much in news these days for the wrong reasons. Anchors are shouting from the rooftops about Bollywood being hand-in-glove with drug cartels. I wonder what they will have to say, hand on heart, about some of the stories about the people in their own fraternity. But in the glamorous world of films, reel life and real life often go hand-in-hand.
Ungratefulness is to be expected in life. But this one really hurts: biting the hand that feeds. Ouch! I’m sure we all have had first-hand experience of it at some point of time in life. What is to be done in such situations? Forgive and forget? Or simply wash your hands off having to deal with these ungrateful wretches?
The plight of the people who were leading a hand-to-mouth existence in the first place was heart-rending during the lockdown. Thank God for the likes of Sonu Sood and many others who lent them more than a helping hand.
Dictators have been known to have quelled dissent with a heavy hand. But what about democratically elected governments? They take recourse to an iron hand in a velvet glove to achieve their objectives.
In case you don’t want to get lost in the labyrinth that is the English language you need to know it like the back of your hand. But I won’t give you a helping hand lest you should accuse me of having a hand in every pie. My hands are tied.
Dovetail: I remember sitting in a restaurant (before the pandemic, naturally!). A young girl walked in with this emblazoned on her T-shirt: If you like what you see, raise your hands. If not, raise your standards.
Guess what I did?!
Former copywriter Nina Krishna Warrier is now a full-time homemaker and amateur author based in Mumbai