Saturday, January 10, 2009

STATIONERY TALES - I

My elder daughter is busy with her term exams and I am busy sharpening her pencils into pointy tips and arranging her erasers and rulers in her Mickey Mouse pencil box every evening.

She has an array of colourful pencils in shades ranging from frosted silver to warm yellow-orange.

We were less fortunate. I can remember only two varieties – the red-and-black-striped Natraj pencils, and the white-with-pink-flowers-and-green-leaves-patterned Camlin Flora ones. My cousin, Dadabhai, who was an engineering student, used some dull yellow pencils for his drawings, but they were forbidden stationery, and all we got were soon-to-become-unusable butts and ends.

Interestingly, though, we had a wider range of erasers, which we called “rubbers”. There were the plain Janes, white, rectangular and unscented (the type I now buy in bulk, because my daughter loses them at an astonishing rate of one a week). They did their work well, and quietly disappeared, unloved and overused. And then, there were the coveted ones, in various shapes and colours – from strawberries to shoes and other 3-D shapes – which we collected and cherished, hardly ever using them. Not that they were particularly efficient at their work, being more of lilies-of-the-field, “who toil not, neither do they rub” (to twist The Bible a bit). Their attraction was their shapes and scent – a uniform, synthetic-sweet smell which we inhaled deeply before turning them round and round lovingly and putting them back in our pencil boxes. And then we took out the plain white ones when we needed to rub out something, which was pretty often.

There’s a morality tale here, isn’t there?

DO SHARE A PENCIL/ERASER MEMORY WITH ME.

16 comments:

ugich konitari said...

This thing about brothers using the so called superior pale yellow pencils was universal it seems. My brother was in some "technical" stream in high school, did machine drawings or something, and he was always guarding his pencils, which he told us were superior (2B,IB or something) to our junta style Apsara HB stuff.

And the white "rubbers" as we call them , had an additinal use as a weapon , for throwing in class, particularly if u went to a co-ed school.

And losing one eraser a week is commendable. Congratulate your daughter.....I am ashamed to say how many my children lost ......

seanag said...

I may think of more as others here prick my memory, but what strikes me now is that I seem to have left pencils behind altogether. I write everything in pen, even when I do crossword puzzles. I really don't seem to mind crossing out ink to the point of incomprehensibility, and I think I only really use pencil for things I mean to entirely obliterate in the near future. It's interesting, this desire to make everything permanent, or at least indelible.

HAREKRISHNAJI said...

I am still using pencils in the office.

Lady Hope said...

hi,

i remember crying for a SCENT RUBBER when i was in school. My father used to prefer using the branded Sandow eraser. gray in color. one day to humor me he sprayed some perfume on my eraser and gave me my own first SCENT RUBBER. Those were the glorious days of childhood when we lived in a self contained chawl. All the houses on the floor were extensions of your own house. We had this family next door who i was very close to. I used to call the lady of the house "AAI" (Mother). For one of my birthdays she got me a proper Scent Rubber, 3/4th of which was white with an A and a picture of an apple on it. the other 1/4th was green in color and had a tiny brush on top of it. it was to brush away those particles that the eraser left behind after being rubbed on to the paper.

Kavi said...

Ah ! The scented rubber !! My mom used to repeat a 100 times that it was an 'eraser', but it was always 'rubber' to me !!

And the scented ones usually were the decorative pieces in the geometry box whilst all other 'ordinary' pieces perfomed their duty !!

But it indeed is a brillian analogy !

ugich konitari said...

Just remembered. At some point, we had things called "Ink Rubbers". All they did, was tear the rubbed areas on the pages in our notebooks, because they were so rigid, and our teachers would shout. We then reverted back to crossing out stuff already inked....

Pradip Biswas said...

I still use rubber not eraser because the last woed hurts me. To me rubber is a robber, My young assistants are afraid to loan me one, but when in need I rob it from their desk. Erase the sketch drawing or section. If the erased one improves the interpretation I keep it, if it is worser than last one I throw it.

Lazyani said...

Oh yes, the scented rubbers. I still have one in the shape of a Dhaki whose stomach held the sweetly scented rubber.

And I am in love with pencils till date. My desk still has at least 3 pencils sharpened and ready for action.

seanag said...

The weird thing is that I love sharp pencils, but I can't find a place for them in my life anymore.

Ganesh said...

I think this post mirrors all our experiences during schools and your daughter's experiences mirror my daughter's.

I shudder at the thought of 'rubbers', mainly because of the rate at which I used to lose them at school and then dread asking my parents for a replacement. I think because of my experiences I'm far more lenient with my daughter.

The Scatterbrain said...

ah! scented erasers!

I loved them so so much... but given my knack for losing things at school especially pencils and erasers, my mother only allowed me to take ordinary white erasers :(

When I started my career as a teacher, I was assigned a Grade 4 class. One of the first things I did was go and stock up on fancy fruit shaped, fruit scented erasers to hand out as rewards to my kids! I hope they loved them as much as I did!!

GuNs said...

My memory of pencils is slightly gruesome. Second or third standard - boy sitting behind me asks me for pencil. I refuse to give him one. He tries to force it out of my hand. I turn around and stab him in the middle of the forehead with the sharpened point. A few drops of blood and ugly shreiks later, I am in the principal's office - which wasn't an uncommon sight, by the way.

-PeAcE
--WiTh
---GuNs

lopamudra said...

I remember I always carried one eraser which was 3/4 white & 1/4 dark green with a big L with a picture of a lion.I never lost them,I used them till the end of eraser-life.I would buy a similar one again!I always LOST the cherished ,colorful,fruit scented ones which came in various shapes & sizes & which never did their job!The nataraj/camelin pencils were superb, I am yet to find a pencil with that great quality in US!

HAREKRISHNAJI said...

Are you using the Eraser on the blog ? Nothing new ?

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks, everybody, for re-writing your eraser memories here.

Mampi said...

Wow girl, you are making me live my childhood again.