The buzzing machine of a skin hungry wasp filled with the permanent ink of relentless etches through the epidermis of my forearms. The needle of this beast pierces the layers of my fresh canvas of innocence and corrupts it with the traces of a designed scribbling of scarring effects. The first bite of the sharp sword of this artist shocks me back to the reminiscent time of a childhood fear of the doctor’s injection while the cool liquid of Vaseline gives a false sense of security of its hygiene operation. After a few tears upon my delicate surface of my skin the pain stops in a numb ecstasy and mistakenly registered in my mind as an adrenaline of pleasurable artwork. The look upon the just awoken tattoo artist was strictly concentrated upon each stroke of his machine ensuring perfectly crafted scars of my own fabrication. My first tattoo. In a small hut by the beach is the location of its creation.
Tattoo. Intentionally puncturing the skin to deliver a limited amount of ink creating a masterpiece. It is still considered taboo in many of the civilization of our modern times and in a country of an Islamic Laws, it is by far the most taboo thing a man can do upon himself. The origins of such a practice are uncertain and the idea of how it first came to be could be considered almost a hilarious notion. Imagine a cave man one day just took something sharp and dip it in ink-like substances in order to deliberately hurt himself with it. No matter how it first began, this practice was considered a necessary in many of the tribal civilization around the world. In the Borneo lies a tribe that well known for its culture of head hunting is also well known to be one of the last remaining tribes to practice such a ritual with high zest. The tribe named Iban from deep tropical jungle and its village is located on the Skrang River which is known by the locals as the river of death. In the olden days, this river would be filled with skeletons and skulls of the Iban warrior’s enemy which is seen as both a trophy for the tribe and as a warning to others of the warrior’s great courageous fighting abilities. Tattoos to these men’s serve as a prideful ranking of their adventures and great battles. Each tattoo is a story of bravery of the owner and the ladies of the tribe would often appeal to the man with the most tattoo.
In the Iban tribe to receive a tattoo is a very high and noble reward. To undergo the procedure of tattooing is a very macho thing to do for the tools of their ancient ritual is nothing more than a bamboo stick. Unlike the modern day tattoo, these tools are primitive and very painful indeed. The pain of it is excruciatingly torturous which would make the modern day tattoo as nothing more than a tiny prick of a needle which the bamboo tattoo would feel like someone hammering a nail in your skin over and over again. A tattoo is serious business for this tribe but as times moves along and the modern day emerges with its semantic religions which often see the act of tattooing is a sin, the culture slowly fades away into the history. Now in the present day, this very tribe is no longer head hunting (which is such a waste in my opinion) and the tattooing culture is diminishing like a washed out ink of an old tattoo. It is no longer considered a necessary for the men to have them.
In the country of Malaysia where the Iban tribe have forge independence with, the Islamic point of view is widely accepted among the citizen that such an act of defiling your god given body with ink is a crude and barbaric idealism of a decaying culture. And it’s not just the Muslims who have this point of view on tattoo; all the old generations from all religions and races began to feel the same way about it. While the practice does continue in the Iban tribe, it is no longer as active as what it used to be. And so it seems that the culture would soon die off like how the old folk would want them to. Unfortunately though, somewhere in the 1960’s on the other side of the world this very ritual began spreading like wild fire across the west. Who would think the white guys would be the saviour of the east culture?
The white boys, I mean the Westerners took the old age ritual and renewed it with modern inventions and add some colour into tattooing. From crappy skin head tattoo at the back alley of the porno shop to the top A-list Hollywood celebrities with their fancy designs. Tattoo was coming back to life. The Westerner, the very people who nearly wipe out this culture was the very people who brought it back to life. Weirdly enough now it’s the Eastern old folk who began to look at the western’s idea of tattoo as stupidity. Well to be honest, the old folks of everywhere sees tattoo as an act of stupidity of the younger generation. Not saying all but majority. Like majority of the human beings prefer chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla. Where am I going with this....? Crap...
Anyways, Back in Malaysia.
The tattoo culture is also resurrecting with modern technologies in small shops around the big cities and smaller tourist destinations. The new generations of Iban Warriors are now returning home with pride and glory of their tattoos with a few of them having their own tattoo shop. Their battle continues now in the time of oppression against tattoo to ensure the survival of their ritual thus the survival of the culture of Iban. Though I have nothing to do with the culture of Iban, as far as I’m aware of. I am proud to have a tattoo just to fight back against the oppressor, those religious pricks beside I got this tattoo for a very cheap price.
A tattoo last forever. Of course, any idiot can write that. And a tattoo should be something very meaningful to the person getting it and not just some snoopy eating a pie kind of tattoo or else it’s just silly. Or unless you’re that drunk then it’s forgiven. Still, a tattoo should be something meaningful to you. I got a tattoo. A tattoo of MR. NOBODY engraved in my arms. Now before you judge let me tell you why I chose it.
I have many names. Some call me: Nazz, Nazreen, Abraham and many more. But only one name sticks with me since I was a child that was Mr. Nobody. You see, when I was a mere infant, my stepfather sang to me a song from the Beatles named Nowhere Man. It was my favourite song. Every time I was sad or going to bed, he would sing it to me. It is a song I hold dearly in my heart for god knows that was the nicest thing that old man every done for me. In the song its speaks of a Mister Nobody or Nowhere Man. And when I was eleven years old, me and my rascals companions had a game of secret spies where we names each other in codes such as Agent Somebody, Agent Everybody, Agent Anybody and of course me as Agent Nobody. Since then this creation of my childhood fantasy and imagination was born in my mind as I create intricate and elaborated life of amazing worlds. He is in every character I ever imagined. He is the very essence of my writing. He soon becomes me. Or I become him. I’m not so sure. In the year 2009, a movie was released under the very same title as my character’s name, Mr. Nobody acted by Jared Leto of 30 seconds to Mars and Diana Kruger. The movie was an instant favourite of mine for though it simplified my point of view of life but it shows a tiny perception of my mind. This makes it easier for most people to understand me. If they can’t understand the movie, they will not be able to understand me for its bare 10% of how my brain works. And thus, the name carries on living in my stories and in me. Mr. Nobody has no beginning, nor shall it has an end. I may die of mortality but Mr. Nobody will lives on among the shadows of time and realities.
My name is Nazreen Abraham.
No....I am not him.
I’m Mr. Nobody. (And now I got a tattoo to prove it.)