The artist is the proud owner of a jewellery box which has nails of all colours, painted and preserved over the last 23 years

M. Narahari cannot afford to bite his nails. For this artist from the city, fingernails amount to a treasure. In a jewellery box he carries around, one finds nails of all ‘colours’, painted and preserved over the last 23 years.

Dabbed with more hues than can be imagined on their diminutive surfaces, the fingernails sport not only simple depictions such as the national flag, but also carry intricate portraits of national leaders. Adorning the nails in oil and acrylic are distinguished personalities such as Ambedkar, Mother Teresa, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and Pranab Mukherjee.

“I got the idea when I was just about 20 years old. I began to grow the nails of my thumb and little finger, and suddenly it occurred to me that I could paint on them. Thus began my hobby,” the Fine Arts graduate recalls. Soon, he decided to paint on his own nails and become the first to do so to get into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Narahari, who also teaches art at a private school, allows the nails on his left hand to grow for up to two years. So far, he has stored away 85 well-grown nails, besides painting most of them. Apart from portraits, he has also depicted vivid sceneries and monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal and the Charminar on nails.

Though he also paints larger canvasses, nail care has become an integral part of his life - be it positioning the arm while asleep or changing the grip so as not to break the nails.

“I refrain from hard work, too. Sometimes cracks do develop on nails, but I glue them up quickly. I take calcium tablets once or twice a month, so that the nails grow strong.”

For now, he is trying hard to find place in the India Book of Records. The Guinness Book will have to wait till he finishes a hundred.

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