What noise gets your teeth on edge? Is it scraping of a sharp object across the blackboard? Could it be the drip, drip sound of a water tap? Maybe it is slurping soup, or the leaking sound from the headphones of a fellow train passenger listening to music.

For me, the sound that sends me into an irrational frenzy is the sound of someone clipping his/her finger or toenails. It does not matter if it is someone close to me or not, I just cannot stand the clip, clip sound the nail clipper makes. I simply have to leave the room and well away from the activity because it drives me insane.

For me, cutting your nails should be a highly private matter like going to the toilet; it is not a spectator sport at all and there should be a law that prohibits the activity in public.

As I said, I cope with the matter by leaving the room until it is safe for me to return. However, it’s not always possible to get out of the way, so to speak. A few days ago, I was travelling on luxurious Boing Dreamliner from Amman, Jordan to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was a relatively short 2-hour flight and I relaxed by reading and writing in the comfort of Business Class cabin.

At first, I thought it was something one of the flight attendants was doing while serving fellow passengers. It struck me as an odd sound and I wondered what it was. The second ‘clip’ sound made me stiffen in my seat, as it sounded remarkable like a nail being clipped. By the third ‘clip’ I was sure someone was doing just that! My mind went into overdrive, my blood pressure elevated a few notches and I began to feel queasy. Fourth ‘clip’ came soon after and I had to get up and investigate.

Like a meerkat, I stood up and surveyed the cabin through 360 degrees. My eyes finally fell on the culprit. Three rows behind and to the left of me, was a middle-aged man dressed in the all-white outfit worn by pilgrims who travel to Mecca to cleans their spirits and hope to have their sins absolved by Allah, The Merciful. He had his foot on the edge of the seat and was busy pedicuring himself in preparation for the solemn occasion.

I looked for a flight attendant to complain but they somehow disappeared en mass, maybe to avoid the disgusting and horrid sound too. In the end, I had no choice but to sit down and try and ignore the filthy man as best as I could.

The stomach turning ‘clip, clip’ sound went on agonisingly slowly. I thought: “How many fucking toes does this son of a bitch have?” I stood up again only to find out that he was now busy clipping his fingernails! Again, no flight attendant was in sight so reluctantly, I sat back down again and pushed my earphones deeper in to my ears, turned the music volume up and hoped for the best. It was futile; somehow, I could still hear the clipping sound loud and clear.

When it finally came to a blessed end, I was beside myself with anxiety and hatred towards a fellow human being who had no regards for other passengers and I was certain that he must have conducted the rest of his human activities in the same disregard. No wonder he felt he had to go on a pilgrimage; he clearly needed to download a great deal of sins.

I don’t know how these things work; maybe Allah almighty only forgives those who sin without meaning to or those who genuinely repent their sins. I doubt very much that this horrible and disgusting man falls in to either category. I sincerely hope he is not forgiven for the pain and suffering he subjected me and other passengers to.