Are you one of the 10-12% of the world population who is left-handed? Are you sometimes the odd one out living in a right-handed world? Do people make biased assumption just because you hold your pen, scissors, knife etc. with your left hand? Yes, I belong to that 10% of the world population as a result of which I had to face a lot of misconceptions concerning my personality. I used to wonder, is it genetic? Or is it, because of the environment? Both my parents are right-handed, so are my siblings. Studies have suggested that even scientists aren’t exactly sure why some people are left-handed but, they know that genes are responsible for about 25% of the time.
Life as a leftie is very interesting. Every new person you meet will have something to say about you being a left-hander. People have so many preconceived notions about you if you are a leftie. Some are like, “Oh … you are a leftie? That’s so cool! I guess you are very intelligent, creative, artistic, smart, and good at math and so on; while it might be true, it does get a bit awkward when people find out that you can’t draw to save your life or complete a calculus sum. While some mull over the negative aspects, they say, ‘I read somewhere that most lefties die of some kind of cancer or suffer mental issue, and your life span is shorter so be careful’. And there are some (even my parents) who say that it’s not very cultured to do everything with your left hand. The culture comment might be because I have food with my left hand, which for some people is an indication of lack in culture or maybe because people use their left hand for toilet purposes and their right hand for greeting people. In the Bible, the favoured sat at God’s right hand. Every mention of left-handedness had a ‘sinister’ connotation in the Bible, but if we look closely, no verse in the Bible considers being the lefty as a ‘SIN’. Even the word ‘sinister’ comes from the Latin word sinistra meaning left. The kind of prejudices against left-handed people was worse during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was said that during that time being left-handed was associated with the DEVIL, and the devil baptised his followers (left-handed) with his left hand. I for one am glad that I was not born during that time because surely I don’t want to be called a DEVIL’S daughter. This is not the case now since it’s been accepted with the changing times and mindset. People look at right-handers and lefties more-or less the same now.
But lefties still face some problems in the right-handed world on a daily basis. Being a leftie can be exhausting, and sometimes downright excruciating. But what choice do we have? We can’t suddenly train ourselves to be right-handed. It is NOT a myth that left-handers have trouble with all sorts of everyday articles and tools. From spiral note books to study desks, cords on kettles and pots to can-openers; the list is endless but I present to you some of the top leftie laments. SCISSORS are our great archenemy-NO you can’t turn right-handed scissors around. Somehow, the paper just ends up all crumpled and cut into uneven pieces. A pen which is regarded as a student’s best friend is not so for a leftie, every day we have to deal with ink smudge in our hands. And it is not just about the smudged area at the side of your hand but sometimes we even end up smudging our entire written work. Mouse-pad causes another problem; every time we have to change the position of the mouse-pad and bring it to the left side but even if you extend the cable to get it on the left side, the hand on the mouse is still intended for a right-hander. What a pain! Life inside the kitchen is not easy as well. Vegetable peelers don’t work for lefties, either. They only have one sharp side; they are designed for the right-hander. The sharp side of the blade is at the bottom while it is in the hand of a leftie resulting in uncomfortable peeling motion and ugly looking size and shapes of vegetables. Even our old saucepan lip is on the wrong side for a lefty so imagine trying to pour anything from the saucepan; it’s a struggle! These are only a few, but the list is endless.
We, as human beings, often end up complaining about our life in general and as a leftie the frustrations are double, but on the bright side there are some things that do work in our favour or so research says. Studies have found out that lefties are good at multitasking; lefties write faster as compared to their counterparts, they are adventurous (maybe, maybe not). There is even a chance that we might become the president of a Nation, the reason being that with the exception of George W Bush and Donald Trump the last six United States leaders have been left-handed. Interestingly, many famous and renowned personalities like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Paul McCartney, Tina Fay to name a few are all leftie.
One thing you will not lack as a leftie is ATTENTION. Every new person you meet will undeniably notice you for the sole reason that you are a leftie. The stigma and shame of left-handed people have long disappeared, but the mystery and fascination remain. Maybe we will never know what really causes left-handedness, and how it makes such a difference in our lives.
Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Anjan K Behera, Tatongkala Pongen, Nungchim Christopher, and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.