by Prerna Shetty

“Do you think when pens were invented, people missed quills?” she asked.

“Hmm?” came the reply. “Wait. What did you say? I wasn’t paying attention.” He inquired, looking up from his phone.

As much as she had wanted his opinion, Ashna felt no urge to repeat herself. Before she could reconsider that thought, however, Aman’s attention had already drifted back to the screen. After all, those gym selfies weren’t going to edit themselves.

Finding herself left alone with her thoughts, she chose to feed the question her mind had so abruptly posed in front of her. How would’ve people reacted when they found out they no longer needed to go dip-dip with each word? Would it have come as a welcome change or would they have regarded this as a threat to their culture? Did people continue using a quill just because it was what they had used to write their first word?

Perhaps, she entertained this thought because she had missed primitive ways of expression or at least as primitive as she remembered them to be. Ashna never harboured dreams of becoming a writer, but she loved writing nevertheless. What she believed to be rather strange was that her creative juices flowed more freely on a piece of paper instead of her tablet or computer. The beauty of ink drying on parchment was quite unmatched in her opinion.

She did picture herself sitting in front of a typewriter though, watching her story emerge from a slot, as the machine let out a bullet-like cry with each letter she punched in. But, that was as far as she was willing to let technology invade her narratives.

Thinking of technology, her mind surreptitiously led her into a new realm as she now began to wonder how paperbacks offered so much more solace than a Kindle.

The latter was definitely better in more ways than one, being a one-stop shop for a plethora of books and environmentally more beneficial, but it still couldn’t hold a candle to an actual book.

You could flip through the pages of a novel and chart the adventures it had been on. Each yellowing leaf bound to that book narrated a story of its own, sometimes through a chai stain or maybe through a hidden note for unrequited love.

Who in their right mind could even compare an eReader to a book? Taking a whiff of Kindle will never take you back to that moment, before the first day of school when you sat covering your textbooks with brown paper. How was it possible that no two books exuded the same scent? Was it because they lived different lives from the tales they were compelled to tell?

Just as she was about to dive deeper into this whirlpool of emotions, her thoughts were rudely interrupted by the doorbell.

“It’s Here!” She heard Aman exclaim as he sprang up and dashed towards the door. It only took him a few minutes to reappear, but not without a bounce in his step.

Propping himself next to her, he handed her the package which was evidently the reason behind his proud smile.

“Belated happy birthday, baby. I know how much you love to read. So I bought you a Kindle. Now we can finally give those battered books away and make space for something more useful.”

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