My first and most abiding memory is of my maternal Grandmother scolding me for biting my nails. Slapping my wrist quiet hard. She passed away when I was three, so it is an early memory indeed.
It is the only thing I recall about her, which is a shame. There must have been happier moments for me to retain. Some hint of affection.
She was not the only one who did it. My parents. My brothers. Aunts, uncles…
All constantly shouting ‘Stop that!’
I never understood why they did it. I still don’t. If I bit too hard or too deep, I was the one who suffered. I was the one who bled. I was the one who always had the shameful fingers that had to be hidden away in public. So the problem was all mine to deal with or ignore as I saw fit.
Also, the constant harassment made me want to bite more to ease my shattered nerves. It has left a nasty taste, a feeling of bitterness and resentment towards all those who picked on me.
All of that endless pestering to what avail?
Fifty years later and I am still gnawing away.