There is a strong compulsion to write. There isn’t a thought that is insistent on expression, or such a thing, yet. The mind isn’t blank, either: there are the usual what-if thoughts associated with the day’s events. Nothing useful enough to solve a problem or to understand the world around me (or within me, for that matter).
Every time I use my ink pen, I am reminded of school. I recall, a senior, was once questioned by a teacher about the ink-spill on his hands.
Blood of knowledge, he replied instantly.
I remember nothing about him, except his name, and his face at that instant. I am pleasantly surprised that I do.
Leaky pens, misbehaving ink-droppers.
Dinner laid out.
Old rag to clean the hands and the pen’s barrel.
Mother’s automatic assumption: wash your hands before you come for dinner…
I am now attempting to write fast — simulate the feeling of writing an examination paper. History, perhaps, or English. They were ink-intensive. No diagrams, no pencils and compass boxes. I see it almost perfectly as it used to be.
The watch, off the hand, on the desk.
The backup pen(s) laid out.
Click of the clip-board.
The four-page main answer sheet — supplementary sheets to come, if you knew most answers.
Remember to draw margins, while waiting for the question paper.
Get you roll number right.
The purposefulness of answering the questions; solving problems.
Name and roll-number on all supplementary sheets.
Ensuring you get the thread to tie all the supplementary sheets.
Ensure that you number the supplementary sheets correctly.
And even if you are still writing the paper, tie them all up in the last 15 minutes and continue writing. You never know, sometimes they would snatch the paper from you, when the bell went.
Writing fast, yet maintaining a good handwriting.
All this while, ignoring the intense escalating pain in your index finger.
I stopped using the ink pen with advent of the micro-tip pen. Then to the gel-inks and other technological innovations. Perhaps, I wanted to let go of the memory of writing a time-bound examination paper. And then, there was no need to write as fast.
But somewhere (and perhaps, even, therefore), with the ink pen, the purposefulness of answering questions was also lost. Sentences started becoming phrases, phrases became keywords. And because t was only keywords, why write at all — not too difficult to remember keywords. Not surprisingly, very soon, I lost my handwriting to the keyboard.
Slowly but surely, there was more typing and a micro-tip pen lasted more than any pen I ever owned. In the ink pens, the ink dried and sad flakes clung to the inside of the barrel.
The ink pen now became an object of romance — a something to help you go back — in the hope that the determined nature of answering questions, will be ours again. Rather than being the sword that drips the blood of knowledge, it became an accessory. The branded clip or the monogrammed head of the pen’s cap, on display.
Heck, most forms today insist on using a ball-point pen.
Sometimes, it is good to just go back and get your Camlin, Cruiser, or Hero pen out of the shoe-box of school memories and write with determined aimlessness. It not only reminds you how you used to answer questions; solve problems — it gives answers; solves problems.