One unforeseen result of lockdown for me has been the stationery shortage, specifically of the pen variety, that I have experienced. Let me clarify now that by no means am I trying to complain here. I simply replenish my stationery stocks so often and so unthinkingly that the realisation I had run out of my preferred pens shocked me a little.
You see, in my country, we had a quasi-total lockdown for a while. This meant that you couldn’t even go shopping for food in grocery stores, let alone for stationery. The only places you were allowed to go out to were the pharmacy and the hospital. In that interval of time, and really, ever since lockdown regulations went into effect, there were many other commodities I had expected to run out of: flour, instant noodles (surprisingly intact now), conditioner. Miraculously still, my bottle of conditioner — only half-full two months ago — keeps giving and giving even now. It seemed strange that a somewhat luxury item like conditioner would endure and something as basic as a pen wouldn’t, even though they aren’t comparable like that.
But lo and behold, I soon had to make the switch from my preferred sleek gel pens with pointed nibs to somewhat rocky, awkward old pens with large nibs. You know, those ones you seem to have lying around for years and which still work, but which will only write in faded shades of grey or blue.
Yeah, those ones.
Needless to say, the writing experience just wasn’t the same. I loop a lot of my letters — no social distancing for my letters, no sir, no ma’am. Letters melt into each other, lines morph into curves and whole words are written in a single stroke. A non-gel, age-unspecified, large-nibbed pen does not allow for great looping, as you can imagine.
The thought crossed my mind for a moment:
“Why do you care?”
Why do you care that your letters loop, that your writing flows? What’s it to you if it does?
It was then that I took notice of the — frankly nice — notebook I am currently writing in. It’s a Harry Potter 9 and 3/4 notebook with pleasantly thick pages that don’t bleed through, a rustic, parchment paper effect covering the pages and beautiful, lush illustrations gracing a few pages. I have others lined up for succession too: an authentic Tibetan rice paper journal that reached me from, well, Tibet (through Thailand), a hard-cover, personal journal, my still plastic-wrapped Gryffindor one…
And it occurred to me then that I care about my writing. It is not something I do just out of passion but also, very much, with love. I had simply never thought of it that way. I’ve rejected writing for so long I had never come to realise that. I love writing, yes, this much I know.
I love writing.
I write with love.
They’re two very distinct feelings with distinct implications.
Strange as it may seem after keeping a blog almost regularly for 3 years now, it became an: “Oh, I never knew that about myself.” kind of moment.