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.