The other day, as I was jotting something down for someone at work, I realized that my handwriting looked abominable. It was like someone had taken a mass of spaghetti and twirled it around in random patterns on a slip of paper. And I was shocked. For someone like me, who had won calligraphy contests at school and whose notebooks were considered prized possessions by teachers, to being reduced to a stage where even I couldn’t recognize my own writing was downright painful, to say the least. I remember my school days when I was so particular about my writing and would take special care to keep my books neat and tidy. I would write reams and reams of cursive in an attempt to improve my handwriting and sometimes I would even tear out pages from my notebook and write all over again if I had to cross out something or if my writing looks shoddy.
To be reduced to someone who can’t even figure out her own writing is a sad state to be in. And I have to say, I blame technology for this. Back then, you had to write everything down. You had computers and stuff but they weren’t as affordable as they are now and it definitely was not a priority for my family. So we wrote. In notebooks and margins of textbooks and “copy” books and record books. We scribbled in journals and planners. We wrote little notes on scraps of paper. We vied with each other to own the best quality pens available, because obviously, a better pen meant better and neater writing. We had calligraphy contests in school. We had teachers checking our books and giving us stars for good handwriting. And a good handwriting was a must especially when you were writing exams. Your writing had to be legible or the teacher would not even bother to read your answers.
We also wrote letters in those days. My Mom and Dad would make us write to our friends and relatives- both in English and our vernacular. We were taught to write in a straight line on unruled paper. We were taught to draw margins properly and we were taught good spelling too as a result. I still have a collection of letters and greeting cards from my friends and relatives. I still treasure those. They somehow hold more memories for me than e- cards and FB updates. I still remember the trouble we took to make cards for friends and family for their birthdays and other special occasions like friendship days. I remember the tons of diaries I have back home which show the evolution of a kiddish 10-year-old to a suave and smart 23-year-old. 🙂 But I have to say my writing took a hit when I joined for my postgraduation That was when the era of Powerpoint presentations and word documents and pdf submissions and printed notes started. We had hardly any writing to do in class. But we did suffer during exams ‘cos then we had to reproduce what we had learnt on paper. It was hard to even hold a pen when you were so not used to it and I remember many an exam after which me and many of my friends would come out fingers all cramped up after 3 hours of non stop writing.
Employment only further destroyed what little bit of hold I had over my handwriting. All our work was done on the computer and not even once did a pen come in handy. We used it only when we were required to sign some random document and that was it. And so my writing pretty much disappeared completely. Friends were always a call or an sms away. There was no need to write letters any more, we had e- mail. Birthdays were wished on Facebook or if it was closer friend through a call. Sometimes we sent e- cards. We blogged and tweeted and slowly but surely lost whatever little connection we had with a pen and paper.
These days, I do try to scribble in journals when I get time. But blogging and FB updates and Twitter and the millions of other social networking platforms- some of them that grant you a virtual cloak of invisibility, have ensured that the tradition of journals are slowly dying out. And since my scribblings are few and far between and I spend most of my days and nights tapping away on a laptop, my handwriting has been grossly neglected. And I regret that. I hate losing something that is so much a part of me and my character. I hate being reduced to wondering how my writing looked like and looking at old notebooks and diaries and gushing over how good my writing used to be. I want to get back my writing- the good one, the one that was rightfully mine before technology came swooping down and made off with it. And so, I am going to start writing in my journal and my notebooks more often from now. I know it’s going to be hard to find the time to actually do that, considering I have a million other things that take up my time in a normal day. But I’m going to try. And I’m starting today. Care to take a pledge to write more? 🙂