My Left Hand

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In Muslim and some Asian cultures the left hand is considered unclean. It is used for sanitation purposes after urinating or defecating. The right hand is reserved for eating and social interactions. It is considered rude to use your left hand for these things.

In parts of Africa it is considered rude to point, gesture, receive things or give things with your left hand.

Through most cultures, being left handed has bad connotations. My husband was brought up in a Russian family and his father tried to make him right handed when he was clearly left handed. Since the majority of the world is right handed, it can be challenging for left handed people. My son is also left handed and although we did not try to re-teach him, he had trouble in school using simple things like scissors.

A group called Left Handers International designated August 13 as Left Handers Day. Their aim is to educate the world about the 10 percent of the population who have trouble living in a right handed world. Think about it – using a mouse or keyboard, power tools, driving, even writing with a pen can all be challenging for a left handed person.

In some cultures it is considered bad luck to be left handed or even to meet people who are left handed.

The other day I was buying something and I put my money on the counter. The clerk took the money and handed me the change. I had something in my right hand and it was an awkward process but I transferred everything from my right hand to my left hand so I could accept the change with my right hand. As I was doing it I thought, “why am I doing this?” The clerk had to wait and was patient but looked at me like I was a little weird.

At some point in my life it was ingrained into me never to hand anybody anything with my left hand and never to accept anything with my left hand. I just can’t do it. It feels very uncomfortable. I know most people in the US don’t care or understand why I do it. But I still do it.

5 thoughts on “My Left Hand

  1. Oh yes! I have some of those habits deeply ingrained in me too. Like trying not to make eye contact when first meeting someone, never showing the soles of my feet, etc. Funny how these habits hang on long past our return “home.” 🙂

  2. I’ve gotten used to giving and receiving money using two hands in Hong Kong. I’ve caught myself doing this in the US this summer and have gotten some odd looks!

  3. I’m right-handed but try to do things with my left hand just to balance up my posture and movements. I use my computer mouse left handed and can even peel carrots, although my left hand has a lot of catching up to do with my right.

    The one thing I feel it impossible to do left handed is write with pen on paper. Not because I can’t retrain my hand but because the English language is designed to be both written and read from left to right.

    When I use my left hand to write a sentence, I drag my hand across the words, obscuring them and often smearing the ink. How do left handed people cope?

    Oh, yes – and after only a year and a half in Ghana, I find myself wanting to blurt out an apology whenever I use my left hand to give someone something.

    • Hi Camille
      I broke my right arm when I was about 12 and had to teach myself to write with my left hand. I was going to a British school at the time and penmanship counted. Needless to say things got a bit messy. 🙂

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