Autobiography of a Pencil
Surabhi Jain, NPS Koramangla
It is finally my time. I have lived a long life, longer than most of my kind at least. Now, I am but a fraction of what I used to be. My once lengthy body has been shortened to a stub and my head has been sharpened for the last time. The blue colour of my exterior has faded along with the name of my maker and my pretty red eraser has all but disappeared. This is the last story I will write before I am put down forever. This is the story of my life.
It all began when my then flat head was skimmed with the sharp blade of a sharpener. As I was turned around repeatedly, a trickle of consciousness manifested. I started to hear the shavings fall to the table, to see the black inside of the sharpener, to smell the metal of the blade. I could sense everything around me. With that came my conscience. I, as an individual, was born. And when my head was removed from the confines of the black plastic, I was introduced to the world. A world which, I would later come to learn, is both brutal and kind.
My induction into the world went in an unexpected manner. As the dark interior of the sharpener left my vision, I was met with the view of a colourful room and cluttered room. Building blocks littered the carpeted floor and along with sheets of paper and crayons. Awed by such a foreign sight, I didn’t notice I was moving until I was right in front of a human child’s face. His chubby face was lit up with a brilliant smile as he observed me lying on what I now know was his father’s hand. He clapped his hands with sheer delight and reached for me with his pudgy fingers. He lifted me up and looked up at his father with a pleading expression on his face, “Can I take it to school tomorrow Dad?” And then I was dumped in the dark space where I would make my first friends.
The stationery pouch was a scary place at first. There was no light and a fear of the unknown ran through me. I shivered as I wondered what was going to happen. Abruptly, a voice cut through the silence, “Hey everybody, we got a newbie!” And then I was in the middle of a flurry of activity. A crowd of voices started up and I was being tugged this way and that. It was a very disorienting experience, I must say. From the cacophony, I managed to discern a few names: Bob the eraser, Marty the sharpener and Penny the pen. As the ruckus grew in volume, a scream rent the air, “Silence!” All was quiet. A bulky shape came up next to me and it said, “I’m Patty the ruler. You are?” I stutteringly explained that I was new and that I didn’t have a name. After which Patty proceeded to rudely tell me to get one. So I said, “Scratch”, thus naming myself. Initially, Patty scared the living daylights out of me. She was snappy and sarcastic; traits that were intimidating to a novice like me. As time went on, I realised that she was just overprotective of her pouch mates and that I, as a stranger, was suspicious to her. Nevertheless, life was good.
The weeks following my ‘birth’ were happy. The residents of the pouch and I became family. We’d go to school with the child-whose name was Daniel- and do our work. The rest of the time we’d play and chat for hours. I began to love Daniel as well. He took care of me, making sure I was always sharp and ready for anything. He treated me with care and never threw me or broke my tip. I was content. One day, it all changed. I was shown how uncaring people can be and what a lie I was living. It was a school day like any other. We went to school and I did my work. I was lying on the table while Daniel used Penny when suddenly, I was airborne. I flew and smacked into the wall, rolling into the corner. Trying to shake off the dizziness, I realised that Daniel hadn’t even noticed. I lay there waiting for someone to pick me up and return me but no one did. I watched as the day passed and still I lay in the darkness. When the children left, I hoped that Daniel would see that I was missing and would search for me the next day. Alas, that was in vain. The next day dawned and the children filed in. When they started opening their pouches, I watched Daniel, waiting for him to rescue me. Instead, I saw him pull out another pencil with the same care that he used to show me. I saw Bob and Marty chatting with the replacement the same way they used to speak with me. The betrayal of all those I loved cut straight through my heart.
After that incident, I was transferred to the ‘Lost and Found’ box and when no one claimed me, to a big carton labelled ‘Castern’. I was put with hundreds of other pencils, most of whom had suffered the same treachery that I had. We stayed in that box for a long time with no idea of what was going to happen to us. Fear was the dominant emotion of most and we nearly drove ourselves insane pondering our fate. Finally, the day came when the lid was opened, putting all of us out of our misery. Sunlight found its way to us, warming us and reminding us of hope. Then we were picked up in twos and handed to children waiting in line. The look of joy on their faces as they received the pencils far surpassed the one I saw on Daniel’s face so long ago. Here were people who truly appreciated their belongings. As my owner, Cedric, carried me and the other pencil, Matt, into his home, I was struck by the stark difference between his abode and that of Daniel. While Daniel’s had spoken of wealth and class, Cedric’s was humble. There was no television and the furniture was plain and simple. There was no mess here though. Cedric’s room was neat and tidy. I knew that I would be genuinely loved here.
Matt and I became good friends over the years. We only had each other for company but it was enough. Cedric took good care of us, writing conservatively so that he didn’t waste our lead. He prolonged our use as much as he possibly could and now the time has come where he can extend no further. I write this story on a spare piece of paper on Cedric’s desk so that he may know how much he means to me. He restored my faith in this world and made my days happy. For that, I am forever grateful.