They were only fingernails, but to Shridhar Chillal, cutting them off probably felt a bit like cutting off his own hand.
That’s because for 66 of his 82 years, Chillal, of Pune, India, has been growing the longest fingernails ever recorded on a single hand, his left. They together stretched about 30 feet, or the length of a bus, before he finally had them cut on Wednesday.
Beginning with his curling, 6.5-foot long thumb nail, the nails were removed with a mini power saw, as seen in a Guinness World Records video. But they weren’t destroyed: Chillal ultimately did away with the nails after New York City’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum promised to “maintain them very nicely and for a lifetime,” per ABC Australia.
“Chillal dedicated his life to something truly remarkable and Ripley’s is the perfect home to honor his legacy,” a rep says, per the Hindu.
Ironically, the nails now on public display came about after a 14-year-old Chillal accidentally broke a very long nail his teacher had grown. “I don’t know if the teacher is dead now or not, but I would definitely like to say the thing that you scolded me for, I took it as a challenge,” says Chillal.
Though his fragile nails complicated many everyday activities, like sleeping, Chillal has led a mostly normal life. He married, had two children, and worked for 22 years as a photographer at a government agricultural magazine, using a camera with a customized handle, per Guinness and Reuters.
He’s now looking forward to some relief, having complained of pain in his arm, shoulder, and fingertips. Due to the nails’ weight over six decades, however, Chillal’s left hand is permanently disfigured, leaving him unable to open his hand or flex his fingers.