05 June 2012

Tattoo: The Permanent Character Certificate of Temporary Mischief

Written for Student Digest April-July 2012 Issue.

Tattoo is a design on the skin, achieved by changing pigments of skin. The process is done by repeatedly pricking ink into the skin using sharp needle.  And because it is done inside the dermis layer of the skin it can’t be erased unless done surgically. The technology of removing tattoo hasn’t yet been introduced in Bhutan and therefore to have a tattoo removed could cost fortunes.
Why am I talking about removing tattoo, when everybody does it for keeping? Well I have learnt from experience that at one point in life you would die to get them removed. You would look at it each day and wish if you had never done it. I know you won’t believe me today, because I didn’t believe them then.
I was just like anyone of you, if not naughtier. I was full of energy, energy waiting to explode and there were always choices ahead of me. I made many wrong ones amidst my youthful excitements. And you could land up doing your share of wrongs too, which as you grow up and as you realize, time will forget and forgive. But there are certain wrongs that would last beyond our realization, beyond our righteousness and beyond our repentance.
One such wrong is getting into drugs. It’s addictive and destructive. It gives you an illusion of happiness and stops you from growing. It clouds your judgment and forces you to multiply your wrongs beyond your intentions. Every morning you wake to find that one more person has left your life, and yet you keep moving away from your family and friends. If you are lucky to receive a timely help you may be able to jailbreak but I have seen how the ghost of the past visits your happy home in future. Just when you finally overcome the addiction and decide to settle down, have family and play with your kids then you realize you aren’t left with much life. You had already damaged so many vital organs in your body to live a normal life. Then you feel the unforgiving grip of your youthful wrong holding you back.
While drugs problem is talked about enough there is a subject equally important that didn’t receive much attention. The aggressive love for tattoo is another youthful folly, which literally last forever. At one time you don’t find anything wrong with tattoo because you see so many celebrities showing off their designs, you see all your friends having them and because you probably think you will never grow up. But you have to grow up and you have to know that those celebrities have millions of dollars and that your friends are wrong too.
Technologies with which celebrities create their tattoos are medically safe and the tattoo makers are professionals, they know what they are doing. Do we have professionals? What type of tools are we using? Last year a student of mine tried a tattoo on his neck and landed up infecting some nerves inside. He couldn’t move his neck and had hard time talking; it took over a month of treatment to regain his speech. He was lucky that it was just a normal infection and not tetanus. There are other infections associated with careless pricking that could ruin your life.
Surviving the infection is just the first stage; living with tattoo is another challenge. My tattoos didn’t give me infection because I sterilized the needles I used but tattoo itself is an infection, more so when you are someone responsible in society. People associate tattoo with drug addicts and gang members but I am a teacher and I don’t like to be assumed that way. How could I change that way people think?
When you are young you don’t care a thing about the world. Tattooing your body is just another mischief you try among hundred others. To gain little extra attention you tattoo strange designs and shamelessly find it cool. I have seen arms and legs filled with vulgar words, phrases and signs displayed openly in public. But someday you are bound to change, and you can’t read your future. Look at me; I never thought I would hold this respectable position in the society. All my youthful follies are forgotten with time except these tattoos on my arms but I am very grateful to myself for not having filthy and disrespectful symbols and words.
Your future is waiting for you with greater opportunities and you could be someone everybody looks up to. And from where you are then you can’t afford to show your tattoo and escape wrong assumptions. Future can’t lie in the tattooed arms. Even if you choose to lead a quiet life you have to become a parent someday and when your little child points at the sign of middle finger on your arms and ask you questions, how would you explain the vulgarity of your designs? Therefore, if you don’t yet have a tattoo, don’t bother about having one. You don’t have to keep a permanent record of your temporary mischief. 


  1. I liked the title of this article, "The Permanent Character Certificate of Temporary Mischief" and I can't wait to share about this to my other friends who already had an tattoo and even planning to have another one again. Sometimes, hearing this make me feel like making a tattoo is an addiction and eventually ruining our body.

    Seeing lots of people with tattoo's on their neck, on their leg, on their warms and upon realising how beautiful and outstanding they look in the crowd, it lured me to making one on my body too. I gave a second thought and said to myself, "I will look cool. But again, Just because it look good on them will not make me look good. I will not be able to stand respectfully near my families and friends."Too many thoughts ran through my nerves and I backed out from making it. I don't have tattoo's but the urge to make one is definite only on my mind. Anyways, I will pass through "Wishes" and care my body by not making it because I am prone to diseases and I don't want to lose my already low BP blood. Sigh***

    1. lol Yeesi, you friends must hate me for writing this, because from where they are tattoos are beautiful, and they must find me an orthodox. But we are in a changing world and I hope someday we look at tattoo differently...

  2. I have never been fascinated into tattoos, maybe i have been matured way long back.

    Very thoughtful piece! Dont tell me that the article i read on one of the local newspapers about a teacher having a tattoo is you :P.
    That was some 3 years ago and i dont remember the exact title of the story.

    1. Ok, since you tell me not to tell you that the article you read on one of the local newspapers about teacher having a tattoo is me, I will not tell lol but since you don't remember the exact title I must tell: It was "My Tattooed Arm- an Inerasable Regret". That appeared in Bhutan Time on 13th September 2009. Thanks for remembering...

    2. So the writer was you??? I knew it! :)
      It was a amazing story Passu Sir and it left me pondering the whole time I travelled from the taxi stand in Thimphu to Taba.Beautifully crafted the story was with a heavy moral and heart-wrenching too, I still remember it. You should upload that story here in your blog if you havent.

    3. Thanks.
      I have it on my blog, in fact it was from here Bhutan Times took into print. The link is here for you: http://www.passudiary.com/2009/09/my-forbidden-arm-inerasable-repentance.html

  3. Hi,
    Thks for the interesting article. I don't have tattoo yet though I was contemplating of getting "Om Mani Padme Hum" on my arm or shoulder at one time. In in Sg, the young and esp those you g girls love to tattoo on their breast a rose or on the back of their neck, shoulder or just above their backside tattoo. They then flaunt them in public. Once they grow up, they will regret like you say. But now they paying lots of money to get nice designer tattoos done their body.
    I just curious what tattoo is on your arms? Could u just give us a description such a lion, tiger or some other images? Those with color cost more than non color I was told. Thks.

  4. Dear Sir ,,i totally respect what you have said there and is true to a lot of cases happening here in Bhutan ,dangerous if not done with proper medical care.I also agree with the fact that the society deems you as a horrid person if you have a tattoo and that is an issue that i do not agree at all, at the moment .will my thoughts change in the future ? i dont know.I find that tattoos are a way for you to express yourself ,of course you would be a maniac if u just put every design or some cool picture that you see.But some designs for instance are meant for yourself ,,to be made with a deep significance for yourself ,Like there can be cases where some one you love has passed away and putting his picture on your body would just mean thats one way of always keeping the person in your mind.i also have a tattoo since the design is kinda crazy people instantly judge me but my tattoo has a very deep significance for me and there is not a day that it reminds me of my past.So to judge saying tattos are bad for every one doesnt seem right to me .of course i totally agree with you seeing young people having all sorts of designs ,which really makes me wonder whats going on? lol.It is one form of self expression and must be made after contemplating over it for a long period being sure of what you want.I dont see myself as much of a thinker but i am sure i am sane enough to know which person is going to do my tattoo ..whether i pay for it or i see my frens doing it ,I research on his previous works explain detail of how i want it and i would say most people i know these days do a good work.... Another thing i would like to raise which you also have stated in your article is ,as you said you are a family man ,a teacher.i am also a civil servant and try to do as good to my society as i can ,,but to judge me based on my tattoos doesnt seem right at all.please take what ever i wrote in a light manner just some opinions ,,,lol ,,the day hasnt come yet but hope the regret day doesnt come.

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