I think we can all agree that rebellion is what makes our time at school interesting. Even if you’re a goodie two shoes and it goes no further than simply watching other kids get into trouble, it definitely makes those long days staring at the clock tick away that little bit faster. Teachers certainly don’t help the situation either. While they might have a rule book to follow, at times, it can really feel like they are out to get you.
I’ll never forget the time that I forgot to bring a hair tie to gym class. Instead of being allowed to take part with my hair down, I was ordered to spend the next hour and a half writing an essay about the importance of wearing a hair tie. Naturally, it was as sarcastic as you’d expect an essay on that subject to be. But what I did to my old gym teacher didn’t have a patch on 82-year-old Shridhar Chillal’s actions.
As his age suggests, his revenge on his teacher has been going on for a long time – 66 years to be precise. And what exactly happened to inspire a lifetime of rebellion? After all, we can only assume that the teacher in question died and was buried a long time ago.
Well, it all began when a then 14-year-old Shridhar received a stern telling off from his teacher after he broke one of his long nails after messing around with a classmate. He was told that he didn’t have what it took to take care of long nails properly.
While this isn’t the usual thing that kids get into hot water for, it’s worth remembering that Shridhar grew up a long time ago, back when it was still acceptable to hit pupils with a belt, and not only that, he grew up in Prune India, where society is very different from in the West.
Upset by his teacher’s actions, Shridhar decided to take the ultimate revenge: he vowed to never cut his fingernails again.
“I don’t know whether the teacher is dead now or not, but I would definitely like to say that the thing for which you scolded me, I took it as a challenge and I have completed the challenge and now, I am here,” he said.
Shridhar’s nails ended up so long that he is the world record holder for having the longest nail on a single hand. Specifically, thumbnail which was certified as measuring 77.9 inches after he let it grow untamed since 1952 – before Guinness World Records even existed.
While I’m sure most of us like the idea – in theory – of our teenage rebellion landing us in the record books, the reality of having Shridhar’s nails definitely sounds unpleasant, and he revealed to Guinness World Records that they have massively affected his sleeping pattern.
“I can’t move much, so every half an hour or so I wake up and move my hand to the other side of the bed,” he said of his fragile talons.
Shridhar, however, considered having decades of his life disrupted by his monster nails as a small price to pay for being recognized everywhere.
“I never have to wait in a queue,” he said, proudly.
Here, Shridhar receives his Guinness World Record for the longest fingernail ever:
When Shridhar entered the Guinness Book of Records in 2015, his fingernails had a cumulative length of 358.1 inches, as measured in Pune City, Maharashtra, India, on 17 November 2014. To put that into context, it’s the same length as London bus. A BUS.
But now, Shridhar has finally decided to do the unthinkable and cut his nails. Yes, after 66 years of having perfectly normal nails on one hand and a biological anomaly on the other, Shridhar has given up his bizarre crown – a crown that has left his left hand permanently handicapped.
Because of the weight of his nails, he’s unable to open or flex his left hand and said of the effect its had on his life, “I am in pain. With every heartbeat, all five fingers, my wrist, elbow, and shoulder are hurting a lot and at the tip of the nail there’s a burning sensation always.”
So why, after years of being incapacitated by his nails, did Shridhar finally decide to cut them? He made the decision because Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in New York asked him if he would do it, promising to put his nails on display and maintain them for a lifetime.
Presumably, the 82-year-old had also gotten tired of the effect that his nails were having on his life, especially now that he is older.
To see the emotional moment when Shridhar’s nails were finally cut off, check out the video below:
“When I decided to cut my nails, it was difficult for me to make this decision,” he said of his life-changing decision.
“But when I realized that after cutting my nails, my nails will be at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and they’re going to maintain it very nicely and for a lifetime, then I felt like I was doing the right decision and that’s why I decided to cut my nails.”
Despite being unable to use his left hand because of his fingernails, Shridhar has managed to live a relatively normal life, and he even had a career as a photographer. He also married and had two children. Now, he’s a proud grandfather of three.
My inner teenage rebel would like to commend Shridhar to dedicating his life to proving his teacher wrong. If there is an afterlife, I’m sure they’re chuckling to themselves at the level of sheer pettiness their comment inspired – and the fact that it ended up smashing a world record.