Arts & Culture

Smelling The Fragrance Of Handwritten Words

We may follow umpteen Instagram pages on love letters, handwritten poetry etc. Yet as the latest generation we have forgotten to put our emotions with hands, on paper or otherwise. Smell the fragrance of handwritten words. It’s beautiful.

Isn’t there some beauty about those handwritten letters that lovers in archaic times would send to each other? Added to it was the extra beauty of those scented perfumes made from mogras and roses sprayed on those letters. It’s sad that we as Generation Z have failed to keep that legacy of “writing-with-hand” going on. If at all we do something today, is watch aesthetic Instagram pages of Dark Academia, Romantic poetry etc., as those posts, reshare them on our stories or comment on them. 

I am writing this article as an ode to those times when we didn’t type but actually wrote things everywhere. On walls, chests of our confidantes, papers, leaves etc. Whenever I write anything that conveys emotions, I always do it with my hand and those words get etched on the paper permanently. Well, of course, a sarcastic remark someone would makeover here is: We even type with “hand”, so what does writing with your hand actually mean? Honestly, there’s a gap as large as an elephant’s size, between writing by hand using a reed or pen and simply typing it on a computer or laptop (which we have been doing more often since the starting of the online semester).

“There’s something intrinsically beautiful while writing on paper. You create something physical out of your emotions while writing on paper. Your feelings are getting translated while using fingers on paper. On a laptop, you give the task of remembering to the device. But there’s more effort in writing on paper because there’s nothing that hinders you from expressing yourself. It’s just you, your pwn and your paper. “

Bhavya Chauhan, Student, Delhi University

In an article in The Guardian, Edouard Gentaz, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Geneva remarked that handwriting is a complex task that requires various skills – feeling the pen and paper, moving the writing implement, and directing movement by thought. This fact can be beautifully applied to creative writing or casual scribbling that we do with a hand. 

Creative writing if done on paper can turn out to be a diva if I put it in that way. That’s because right from choosing a suitable pen and paper to holding it with your hands, there’s a layer of speciality, cosiness and warmth.

  Image Credits : Navneet Kaur for DU Beat. 

Imagine yourself writing a letter or a poem that’s about your first heartbreak. Won’t you cry a little in between recapitulating it? Won’t you put down your pen for a few minutes and start writing again? Similarly, a poem that’s about love will be written by you with a smiling face. And in this process of writing, your hand will move just as your emotions will. It will move fast as you write about sadness yet will move slow and patiently, savouring every bit, if you write about love. While writing with hand has been something we did the most during childhood, one should see how it can actually enhance the retaining power of our memory as well. 

“I have a personal diary in which I write most of my poetry. In college, I have seen people writing on their phones but I think it’s somehow too distracting. Writing digitally never really works for me. I personally love people who write in a diary. There are some comfort and safety in knowing that no one has control over your diary. Writing on paper truly gives life to your words. I also feel that creative juices flow really well on paper. Especially when I write on paper, my thoughts keep coming back to me, which is not the case on a laptop wherein you press backspace and the thoughts are lost”

Akshat Arora, Student, Delhi University

Typing something hardly makes you feel what you go through while writing it. However, a handwritten word is difficult to let go of. You can keep revisiting your notebook and see how you felt at that moment when you wrote that particular piece. It’s a way of self-reflection and identity formation. You can read your scribbled portions to see what thought processes you imbibed at that point. And isn’t it something so surreal? 

Claire Bustarret, a specialist on codex manuscripts at the Maurice Halbwachs research centre in Paris says that word-processing is a normative, standardised tool. One can change the page layout and switch fonts, but you cannot invent a form not foreseen by the software. However, it’s not the same with paper. Paper allows much greater graphic freedom (writing on either side,  setting of margins). There’s no blueprint that you have to follow while writing words on paper and that’s what writing freedom means. 

” I’ve always felt that ink is blood confined in cartridges, which flows when the heart bleeds. This reminds me of Nandita Das’ Manto when the writer’s friend confesses that he’ll kill Manto too because of his identity. That night Manto sits alone with his pen and paper, constantly trying to write, to let his heart bleed, but fails to do so as his heart has frozen, and so has the blood, the ink. The flow of the ink on the coarse paper and the incoherent and quick scribblings, tearing the poem to pieces is something the computer or any other technology can never replace. ” 

Anusha Khan, Student, Delhi University

No matter how many research papers or assignments we type out, that fragrance of writing with ink can’t be surpassed. You have written something for your loved ones or simply having engraved your joys on a paper or other material, is what makes the handwritten word so expensive. Like diamonds, those words look, once you polish them on paper with your hand. 

Write whatever you feel, however you experience anything, handwritten on paper. Perhaps write them on the table? Or maybe write them with a stone on walls of ruins and monuments. But don’t let that screen of a laptop actually spoil the fecundity of your heart.

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Featured Image Credits: Tumblr

Navneet Kaur 
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