Text by Nittal Chandarana. Illustration by Wyanet Vaz
Somebody has killed the written word and Verve’s out to handcuff the traitor
Was it you? Or me? Maybe a little bit of each one of us? That girl who preferred to type notes in a lecture instead of penning them down, that author who embraced her Mac, that grocery list on the mobile phone instead of the diary, and the worst: the decay of the Post-it note. Finland recently passed a rule against the stationery industry. Children will be taught how to type. There shall be no cursive or calligraphy in their curriculum. Now, you may say one must know the rules to bend the rules. But what if the rules have changed? When was the last time you picked up a pen to note something down rather than type it away for later use? Call us old-fashioned (we prefer vintage) but we still lament this tragedy. Imagine what some of the authors would say…. We decided to take the matter into our hands and put words into the mouths of our favourite authors by snatching the written word out of their lives.
R.K. Narayan Ravi’s Writing Pad In Malgudi resides a young orphan no more than 14 years of age. He had lost both his legs in an accident and made a living writing letters for the illiterate strata of the village. One day, his writing pad mysteriously disappeared. All writing pads mysteriously disappeared and then came the rule of the typewriter. Ravi was handicapped again.
Erich Segal Words A young Harvard sophomore met an even younger freshman at the Wellesley Library. Alas. How could he strike up a conversation without any notes to pass around?
Khushwant Singh The Pen’s Prowess He still remembered the first time he’d seen her. She had entered the party fashionably late wearing a crimson dress with a delightfully low-cut neck. She could have gotten anyone she wanted but what set him apart was his ability to write long, expressive letters. But…who cared about letters anymore?
Sidney Sheldon The A-B-C of Murder You don’t need much to murder. A simple hand-written letter delivered by the right person to the correct benefactor does the trick. Type simply doesn’t cut it.
Enid Blyton Mystery of the Missing Alphabet Try as they might, the Five Find-Outers and Buster could not crack the case of the missing alphabet. Of course, Goon can’t even be counted; the alphabet was missing from his skill list altogether. It only emerges when spouting the choicest insults at Fatty. Gah! That toad of a boy!
Ayn Rand The Fountain Pen He sat at the edge of his chair, fingers firmly around the thin contours of a tool that gave purpose to his life. An entity that was inseparable from his very being. A weapon to fight the system when the system had snatched away even his integrity.
J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Purged Parchment Hermione was in shock. Her quill refused to work. She tried the Aparecium charm; maybe Ron had switched her ink with the invisible kind from Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes. It wouldn’t reveal itself! Then it hit her. It was the Ministry at work again.
Margaret Mitchell Gone with the Quill Scarlett wrote to him every day. Every single day she lay in wait in her beloved Tara. And then one day the war broke out and took with it all the quills. No letters. That was the day Rhett Butler returned, because you see, men are the same everywhere.
Roald Dahl What the Fox Said (or didn’t) This skullduggery had ‘fox’ written all over it. What started off as a harmless threat to feed the family turned into a full-fledged crime. The Fox stole the written word. It will take all of Britain’s countryside (even the perfunctory twits) to get it back.
Vikram Seth A Suitable Pencil Still pondering. Thoughts due 2025.