A snap of the fingers....

March 23, 2009

I watched a song on an old Tamizh movie, where (of course) the hero snaps his fingers at the heroine….

And yesterday, I was teaching my young friend how to do a “gun” with one’s fingers. (You have to keep your left index finger and thumb at right angles, pointing at the target; hook your right index finer on to that angle at the thumb; and then click your middle finger and thumb…this is assuming you are right-handed.)

Snapping one’s fingers…could be a way of keeping time, and rhythm. As one enjoys music, sometimes, the clicking of one’s fingers is quite automatic!

Often, though, it’s an imperative, imperious gesture…the click of the fingers with which a customer in a restaurant summons a waiter (though it is considered rather rude now)…the way someone on the road gets the attention of a total stranger…

Sometimes you don’t want to call someone by name, and click your fingers at them, hoping they will hear that and respond, and you don’t have to use the name in a public space….

And of course, there is the disdainful, scornful snap of the fingers…“I don’t care a snap of the fingers for someone” is quite a literal statement! Or one just says, “I don’t care this for him!” and snaps one’s fingers.

In many societies, it is polite to click one’s fingers before one’s mouth as one yawns, not just put them in front of the yawning mouth. Someone once told me that this drives away evil spirits which might enter through the open mouth..perhaps insects too?

It is quite a feat for a child to be able to produce a proper “clicking” noise from its soft little fingers…I remember wanting to do so for quite a long time before being able to! Now, of course, I can click my fingers on both hands…

And I remember that lovely word game which needed the participants to name various designated things….it would begin, I remember, with all of us keeping time by clicking our fingers, and reciting,

“Catharese If you please Name some Names of….”

And this would be followed by what had to be named (Eg, Flowers, or countries….) and keeping to time, each player would have to think of the next name, or be “out”!

Does the snap of the finger also breakthe sound barrier, the way the lash of a whip does? Why don’t wet fingers snap well? Why does only the middle finger produce a proper sound?

And that brings me to the other use I know for clicking one’s fingers…that’s when I think, “Eureka! That’s the answer!” and I click my fingers spontaneously, it’s the equivalent of the bulb lighting up over my head! Or, when I am trying hard to remember something and I suddenly succeed…CLICK go my fingers immediately!

Alas, to my questions above, I can’t do the “eureka” click!

Here’s a Lambani tribesman in Bannerghatta, whom we met on Saturday. He is now settled in the Bannerghatta area, in a small settlement of about 18 houses, but the Forest Department is asking them all to vacate the forest area…. he was busy building a wooden structure, and I was impressed with his skills…and the dignity in his face….