Thursday, 16 May 2013


Sara gripped the pen and tried again to write her name in joined-up writing. It had been years since she'd written with ink on paper. Handwriting had gone out of fashion not long after the invention of Apps and the iphone. She had forgotten what her own used to look like. Words now were typed and abbreviated, although some people preferred voice-activated systems, a “Look No Hands!” form of writing. Nobody could read inked words if you asked them, unless they were printed in neat capitals. Sara too had succumbed for a while, forced to keep up with technology, but that was before the accident. A minor incident had weakened her dominant arm significantly and now after months of exercises her physio had prescribed handwriting as therapy. She was dubious about this as a healing technique, it seemed so controversial, but she was tired of doing everyday tasks back-to-front; she wanted her left hand back.
Tracking down writing materials hadn't been easy. Pens, pencils and writing pads had become obsolete since most communication was tapped on touch screens. Her physio had said this wouldn't be enough and that forming letters with a pen would yield a vaster improvement. After exhausting the Internet, Sara had stumbled across an Indian shop tucked away in the High Street, which specialised in ink pots, parchment note paper, and manuscripts about Hindu Gods. The elderly man behind the counter had been very efficient and she had returned home to begin immediately. This was where she was now: sitting at her desk holding a pen and pressing its nib onto paper. The side of her left hand ached from the light pressure as she tried to follow the curves of the S with an 'a'. She winced as pain shot up her arm.“Ow, ow, cramp!” She moaned, releasing the pen and massaging her wrist, thumb and fingers. Her grip had been too tight. She rested her head on the table and sobbed, “Why can't I write? Words used to flow across the page!” Frustrated, she gave up for the evening. It must be the writing tools she thought.
The next day, she went back to the Indian shop where the elderly man greeted her, “Missy Sahib, what can I do for you today?”
The writing tools I purchased are faulty.” She complained, “The pen won't be held, the ink won't flow, and the note paper won't be written on.”
That cannot be Missy Sahib. You must allow your consciousness to stream differently. You need to invoke Saraswati.” The elderly man replied calmly walking towards a corner of his shop devoted to manuscripts and carved statues. With his hands held together finger to finger, he bowed to a waxed deity. “Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of all learning; the ruler of pen and ink; the muse of every Indian artist, she will help you.”
Sara stared in awe at the statue; a seated female figurine in a spotless white sari, her gifts symbolised around her: an ink pot, a pen, a book, and a string instrument. “She's beau-ti-ful, but, but I'm not a Hindu.” She stuttered.
Believe in her ability to help you write and she will do so.” The elderly man paused to study Sara's expression before he continued, “But you must make regular offerings and speak aloud her hymn. I will give you the English translation.” He took a statue of Saraswati and a rolled up scroll off the shelf, “There's no charge.” He said ushering her to the door and closing it behind her.
Sara practised what she'd been told and her handwriting was much improved by Saraswati.

*Inspired by the works of Rumer Godden