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I began my writing life with the pencil, but the pen has my heart, and holds it even today, when I write more often on my laptop, typing away.
Remember the first time you held a pencil in your hand? Well I don’t. I was too young then. What I do remember is the wait to be promoted to the fourth standard. It was there, where the dream to hold the pen finally materialized.
My journey with the pen started with the fountain pen. It was a messy affair. The pen wanted to take things slow while I wanted to rush on paper. We had a smudgy and stained relationship, which was hard for me to maintain. Well, I was just 10, in the pre digital era, where handwriting was liberating, and pen and ink a discovery. We took our time, and soon we were in for a relaxing and tactile affiliation, like it was meant to be, in the good old days.
At that age, I befriended Natraj pencils, Camel Scholar Geometry box and Camlin ink. Soon I had gravitated towards the next gen stationary in the name of the mechanical pencil. Every student had his or her heart set on these and I have used it extensively in my graduation days. With an eraser on top and stylish slim metal body it was a complete head turner.
Once I forayed into the world of the ballpoint pen, there were so many I shared a bond with. I guess it started with Rotomac, a company that came from my city, Kanpur. As I write about this I visualize Raveena Tandon decked in lehenga choli holding a big cutout of the pen and dancing on these lyrics, “Rotomac, ro, ro, Rotomac. Likhtey likhtey love ho jaaye.”
I dated Reynolds the longest; thanks to its elegant looks and petite body, it was a perfect match for my fingers. Cello had a major fan following as it oozed comfort with its fine grip. I owe a major part of me to these products. A part of me stays there and I like to revisit that from time to time.
Someone recently asked me, “When was the last time you wrote a letter?” The fact that I had to think about it meant that it had been a long time.
After a much-needed mind digging session, I remembered that it was the time when laptops and PCs were not in existence in my world – at least, I did not have access to them. It was the time when real emotions needed a real touch. When Arial or Calibri were not composed in font 12. A personal handwriting was a much-needed connection. Handwriting was a distinctive characteristic, which added to the assets of a person who possessed a good one.
It was an era when editing was not an easy option. We were diligent about what we wrote and how we wrote. Words were finely crafted, not typed. Feelings were penned with the ink. Our hearts would beat with the smell of a letter. The words on those letter pads spoke to us and we could visualize the face of the person speaking to us. I was, am and will always be a big fan of letters and notes. I wrote many to many, and I still drop notes for my husband in his lunch packs, inside of the refrigerator and below pillows.
Of course, like most I too am addicted to technology now. Laptop keys have taken hold of my fingers, which were exclusively married to my pen at some point. I do miss that feeling – it was so real, it was so mine. The art of writing is an expression, which still holds meaning to some. It’s like the first love. You may have moved to a better one but it still holds a special place in your heart.
Now, writing about this makes me nostalgic – how much have I missed writing with pen on paper in the last few years! My love for words evolved with a pen in my hand and a paper at my disposal.
I am blessed with a great handwriting and I miss those occasional compliments I received for them. A flood of anecdotes overflow my memory lane as I think about it. One particular episode that brings smile on my face happened during my MBA days.
Basically my OCD played a part in my handwriting too. Not only did I write well, but also in complete alignment on an A4 sheet. I was an ace in taking notes and ensured I wrote each letter spoken by my professor.
It was a day before the POM (Principles of Management) assignment, and my flat mates and I were busy preparing. We went through our personal notes, the textbook, the easy notes and every possible tutorial. As we were about to wrap up, my super enthusiast and academically sound friend Mitushi frantically started looking for something in her bag.
When asked she replied, “Photostat wale bhaiya ki shop mein amazing notes miley hai POM ke (I got some amazing notes at the photostat shop). Have a look.”
Saying so she pulled a booklet of neatly stapled photocopied papers and placed them in front of us. The crafted words on that booklet in black called out to my fingers. After all they were their creations.
“How much did you pay for this?” I asked almost instantly.
Once she told the amount, I tried to hide my guffaw but failed. My own flat mate paid five times the amount she would have spent to get my notes photocopied.
I answered to address her puzzled look; “You could have taken those note from me. There was no need to buy those.”
“You already bought them?” she exclaimed.
“No. I brought them – in writing.”
“These are my notes.” I smiled.
It just so happened that a college mate of mine once took my notes to the Photocopy station located in our college campus. Owing to its comprehensiveness and good format and above all, a conspicuous handwriting, the shop owner made a copy for himself. Later he started selling copies to other students who were happy buying it from him at a certain price.
My roommate asserted that I demand commission on every set sold. Of course I did not, as I was rewarded each day to see my handwriting displayed in the photocopying center. Like I said it was mine – a personal creation.
Today every one of us has a different style of writing, but the humdrum medium is the same – typing out on a machine. The essence is stolen – the pen, the ink, the fingers and the handwriting are lost somewhere.
Now that my daughter has inaugurated her writing journey, that long lost romance is finding its way back into my life. She has commenced her relationship with a tripod pencil and together they are finding their way in pattern writing. It’s a rediscovery for me to enter into the world of handwriting. Only this time I am holding smaller fingers, which need their grip to get stronger.
The pen has been the ONE for me over the years. I was oblivious to it for the past few years, but I certainly did not jettison it from my heart. It is my soul mate and no ultra modern gadget gives me the pleasure of savoring my own handwriting like it did.
In retrospect, I did not miss the pen. It was here the whole time. I missed me, that part of me with the pen!
Image source: shutterstock
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