A dependable ally and companion, it was my Remington portable typewriter that facilitated my entry into freelance writing in the early 1970s. It had been gifted to me by a thoughtful uncle to encourage my interest in journalism. And it steadfastly saw me through the initial years of rejection that I faced as a novice, enabling me to churn out scores of contributions—good, mediocre and bad.
Turquoise-hued and compact, it has withstood the ravages of time pretty well and is still in good condition, thanks to regular care. Once it occupied pride of place in my room but has now been relegated to a shelf, sidelined by a computer with its undoubtedly superior features.
The transition to a computer wasn’t easy for an elder like me. In fact, I took to it about as willingly as a cat takes to water! I missed the comfortably familiar clatter of the portable and its easy operation. I couldn’t forget it had helped to launch me as a freelancer way back in 1973 when my first short story ever to be published was typed on it. And it had contributed to my steady progress over the years, albeit punctuated by the setbacks that most tyros run into.
When I sat before the portable and gazed out of the window, many mistook me to be day-dreaming. But in actual fact, I was only waiting for my muse to bail me out or striving to marshal my thoughts into a cohesive whole! It had been a mute witness to my temper tantrums and fits of annoyance and impatience, especially when an error crept into a meticulously typed page. The sheet would be unceremoniously plucked out and discarded—didn’t editors expect error-free manuscripts? And, of course, the portable was always at hand to record elusive ideas that, funnily enough, strike one at the oddest of times.
Like me, my portable has now “retired” after more than 40 years of trouble-free service. What’s the secret of its longevity, some ask curiously. Regular care and a sprinkling of affection, I reply nonchalantly, assuming the air of an authority on typewriters!
Interestingly, noted writer Ruskin Bond still uses a typewriter as do some other writers of the old school. Recently, I saw two 1930-vintage typewriters on display in a local museum—rusting relics from the British Raj that are now highly prized antiques. Soon, I realised with a pang of regret, my own gracefully ageing portable would be one, too.
Now tucked away inconspicuously on a shelf, my hardy portable still seems eager to demonstrate its resilience. And, happily, it gets a chance to do so during frequent power cuts that plague my little town. It’s then back on centre stage, dusted and cleaned, and clatters away merrily as my fingers flit familiarly over its keys.
I guess I’m wedded to this trusty anachronism for life!