22-Oct-2010

Being sharp

As a child, I carried a pencil box to school that contained the following :

1. two pencils, one of which was usually only long enough for my child hands
2. one eraser
3. one ruler (when I grew slightly older)

As one can note, the sharpener is missing in this cozy family snap.

The sharpener used to be kept in a shelf along with other items in the wonder world of stationery that we could occasionally peak into but never enter. The world contained strange and fascinating objects like staplers, scissors, and glue in a bottle and later in a tube (not the glue sticks that come now).

When it was time for my pencils to be sharpened, out came the sharpener and lo behold! I was prepared again to fill pages with my crawly handwriting.

I suppose my parents thought it would be too dangerous to give a small child a sharpener. Though I am quite sure that the one or two times I tried putting my little finger into it to see if my skin would peel off, nothing really happened.

More practically, they must have figured out that keeping the sharpener at home and out of reach ensured that it would be available when needed. In the midst of getting your child ready for school on a Monday morning, discovering that the pencil needs to be sharpened and there is no sharpener in sight, probably tops the list of moments that can turn one from a loving parent to a raving lunatic.

I have to admit that as a kid, I had a tendency to lose anything. Especially when given the warning that I better be careful with it.

With most parents perhaps using a similar line of reasoning, only a few lucky classmates brought their sharpeners along. In case of an emergency (both pencil points breaking), you would request a favour of the lucky ones. They would make a big show of sharing the sharpener. When one classmate got a really fancy sharpener from Dubai, that was the size of her fist, all our pencil points must have broken several times in a day.

I am not sure exactly when the sharpener finally found its way into my pencil box. By the time it did, I was anyway too ‘old’ to use pencils. I used fountain pens and sometimes (wow) even ballpoint pens.

It was a long time before I started using a sharpener again. I realized the need for a pencil at work and began to use one frequently.

Generally, the secretary keeps all the important stationary like the staplers, stapler pins, paper clips, scissors etc. I wander over to her desk when I need something.

The sharpener – that is mine, mine, mine.

I keep it in my drawer at my desk. Everytime I need to sharpen my pencil, out it comes with a flourish and then I watch the light brown peels start curling up within the plastic lid on top.

Then I go back to work, with a little smile, ready to spread my crawly handwriting on another new page.

4 comments:

hAAthi said...

at least you had a sharpener.. my architect dad swore by sharpening my pencils with a blade. and of course that was out of my reach!

Serendipity said...

:) My sister used to make doll's dresses out of the shavings , and paint them too!

Archana said...

Ooooh - I remember the magical stationery shelf! I *really* loved looking at stationery as a kid and being lost in a stationery shop was one of my long-standing fantasies - I still love stationery stores!

BTW, you still use pencils that need to be sharpened at your work-place??? Whatever happened to click-pencils? You people are damaging the environment with all those wood-shavings! Bah, non-green philistines :-P!

Anita said...

hAAthi - Aha. I was wondering whether to include a note on using a blade. But as you will probably agree, that is a story by itself.

Serendipity - wow. that is creative!

Archu - ha ha. atleast only our pencils are made of wood unlike some unnamed countries where the whole house is made of wood