It seems to have been ages since I have actually put a pen to paper with the purpose of writing something else other than a shopping or a ‘to-do’ list. And now that I’m doing it, this activity appears alien to me but it is something that I’m getting gradually used to, with a bit of nostalgia and a sense of familiarity.
The reason why I would need to carry out this ancient practice, given this age of computers and internet, both of whom I have been married to since the past 10 years or so, is because I’m required to take a test of my writing abilities and skills.And for this test I would be required to really use my hand with a real pen on a real paper ! I came to terms with this realisation with a bit of unsettling feelings, something that one feels on coming across ‘strange’, hitherto unknown activities. Strangely,this reaction has been despite the fact that I have had a formal education for about 17 years during which conventional paper ‘textbooks’ and ‘notebooks’ were used and pens and pencils were the regular medium of input.
I recall now how then , different kinds and brands of this writing medium were prized possessions of students who competed with each other not only in the possession of these objects of thrill but also in the use of these objects. A student was known not only by his or her grades but also by his handwriting where a beautiful and a clear handwriting were considered an art; an asset, a coveted skill that students laboured hard to acquire. Parents and teachers used to get concerned if the handwriting of their wards appeared like crawling insects on paper.
Clearly things have changed since I graduated from graduate school. My kids are in elementary school and have been introduced to computers right from Grade 1. My son is being taught programmes that I had laboured hard to teach myself many years after graduation. Mercifully though, pencil and paper are still being used as media of input or learning, at least in this part of the world that I live in.
And like my parents, I too am concerned about my children’s handwriting and its appearance and speed; since parents unknowingly and unintentionally and sometimes knowingly and intentionally expect children to perform better or at least at the same level as they had, in their learning days. This of course implies that I had a lucid and beautiful handwriting in my school as well as college days.
A few days ago however, when I attempted to write on blank sheets of paper that I have been using so far only to take computer printouts, I watched in horror and dismay as my hand scribbled a few illegible lines on paper with extreme effort and labour. Not only was the handwriting utterly ugly by my standards, but also shockingly slow. I went into a state of denial. This could not be me and this could not be my handwriting ! Then came shock and anger and finally acceptance. All stages of grief covered,I resolved to improve upon this art,which I meticulously practiced. However,when I focused on the appearance, speed went down and when I tried to speed up, beauty was sacrificed. Going through a myriad of emotions including shock, anger and denial, not excluding a sense of loss, helplessness and inability to cope with, misty eyed I tried to strike a balance between both beauty and speed, resolving and attempting to improve upon both.
And now several pages later, I must say I can already see a difference. A noticeable difference; both in the appearance and speed of my handwriting. I always keep saying, ‘Fruits of labour never tasted better’. At the same time however I realized that over the years it was not just my handwriting that got battered but also my writing skills have taken the battering. Now I need to improve upon my writing skills too.
In this whole process of self-realisation however, a wonderful thing happened…
I have fallen in love again with real paper and real pen and seem to derive some kind of gratification out of holding a pen in my hand and rolling it over paper in smooth beautiful strokes, finding the classic motion of ball over paper as smooth as satin and an undescribable experience.
This is going to be one wild, intense affair which holds promises of lasting a life time !
“Sorry ‘Word’, I will have to part ways with you; which I will do gradually so that both of us can get used to it in a less shocking manner. But I will on amicable terms with you. And yes we can still be friends and remain so “