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The feeling of nib on paper

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I would sit and watch Teacher write on the chalkboard and I would drool. How could it be possible for someone to write that beautifully, I wondered to myself

Ms Simons was my Sub A (these days called Grade 1) teacher. And after considering all the facts, I have decided that I have her to blame for my addiction.

Look, when I started school everything was fine. We would be given big, fat, chunky crayons and we were let loose to colour in and draw to our hearts’ content.

Later on, Teacher, that’s what we called Ms Simons, instructed us to exercise more control so she taught us patterns.

There was the wave pattern that looked like a series of curvy cresting waves; there was the up-down pattern which was simply a zig-zagging pattern, and then there was my all-time favourite, the one Teacher called ‘first-second-third, one-two-three’ – this pattern was three stacked horizontal lines followed by three vertical lines, repeated across the page. I just loved how it looked.

Ms Simons then gradually taught us to draw letters. We could not write yet, so we would painstakingly shape each letter, following her example as she wrote on the board upfront.

I would sit and watch Teacher write on the chalkboard and I would drool. How could it be possible for someone to write that beautifully, I wondered to myself.

See? The roots of my obsession run deep. So you’ll also understand why, when I got home from work after 9pm last Thursday evening I sat and watched several YouTube videos about fountain pens for well over three hours. I watched videos on how to improve one’s cursive handwriting. I looked at calligraphy drills, I learned the difference between stub-, flex- and fude nibs.

I ended up comparing prices, and have already decided which pens I am going to purchase.

For someone like me, it’s so sad that handwriting is becoming a forgotten art. Back in 2013 the debate on whether to replace teaching cursive writing with teaching keyboarding skills in school was already raging.

Those who were lobbying for keyboarding were saying that spending so much time learning how to write in cursive and then never using it again is a waste of time. “Also, the capital, cursive ‘Q’ looks so stupid,” one person commented.

Advocates for cursive would say that more areas of the human brain are engaged when children use cursive handwriting than when one ‘keyboards’.

But I guess it’s obvious which side has the upper hand at present. No longer can you walk into a stationary store to buy writing paper. (Did you notice that I just misspelled ‘stationery’? Had you been practising your cursive, you would have. (Autocorrect is making you lazy).

The experience of sitting with your friend’s letter in front of you, writing replies to their questions was a priceless experience.

I wrote a letter recently, and I found it to be incredibly difficult. With text-messaging and video-calling being so easily accessible, I struggled to string together a letter that I considered suitable but I posted it anyway.

But who knows, one day we may have to consider returning to writing letters. Recently, a suspected undersea earthquake caused two breaks in the cable that feeds the internet to our country. One was a break in the WACS (West African Cable System) and the other was the South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable.

Here’s the thing, the job at the WACS is expected to be completed by February 8, assuming there are no dramatic weather events. From there, the ship will move on to the SAT-3/WASC site, and that job is expected to be completed by February 19. And bear in mind that at the best of times the ocean is unpredictable.

So, just in case we will not be able to use our keyboards for a while, I will be at home, in my room, practising my ‘first-second-third, one-two-three’ patterns just in case.