Saturday, March 7, 2009

Writing with Fingers

I am so grateful to all of you who visited my blog. These, indeed, are amazing times we live in. The craft of writing has come such a long way and I only refer to my lifetime. The black slate was the first surface I scribbled on. I remember, very concretely, the scratch and squeak of the slate-stylus, or the slate-pen, as it was called. The way soft chalk felt was very different, and I thought it awkward to hold. Then, my writing world changed completely with the lead pencil and neat squiggles conjured themselves fluidly on a maleable, thin paper surface.
Whether scribbling wordless shapes on the pavement for street games, computing and figuring out math problems and verb conjugations on slates, or laboring delicately with a fountain pen to keep the paper blot-free, writing has been one of the most meaningful acts I remember from time before chronololgical memory.
Today, as I write this in a format and medium that is light years from the pavement and the slate, I ask myself if my fingers miss actually feeling the words as they emerged, it seemed to me then, from my blood, skin, and nerves. After all, it seems like cheating, almost, that my fingers don't sieze up with painful exhaustion and need very little flexing.
So who is the one really writing, if my fingers feel so detached that only the tips tap gently on keys and fly away? How close am I to the words if I don't feel them being painfully concieved and sharpen beneath my skin?
Even though I've been using this form of physical writing for more than a decade, closer to two, it still feels strange, this strange distance from the very sensuous act of touching my thoughts. I fear it might add a dimension of alienation, since I connect my use of the computer key board with my immigration to the US. The only keyed writing implement I'd used before was the old fashioned type writer, which demanded my fingers pound the requisite keys with proper determination and insistence. So there was labor there.
I do, I find, have answers to my earlier questions. The ideas that are splashed out today need no labor, which makes this world a Utopia of sorts. We now have the luxury of expression without pain, truly free. Now, fingers do not need to get involved so intimately with thoughts and their labor can be saved for the needle.
One of the proudest memories I now hold is the sight of my daughter owning the keyboard with enviable familiarity when she was 3 and wielding pencils with equal grace on paper taped to the living room wall.
These, indeed, are amazing times.


  1. Nice article-I wonder ,in which year did u use "Slate pen"? We have used in 40s-I m sure that now adays, nobody has any idea about slate pen-

  2. Actually, it was the late 60's, but this was a way to save on paper.
    Does that make sense?