Al-Avalathi's Life (Al-Avalathi is the last Mallu to go to the Gelf)
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Signs of the times

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Nelson Mandela would never know that I had signed on a paper to free him from prison. I did not know how to sign. Nor did I know Nelson Mandela. No. I actually did know him. He was all over the newspapers then.

The whole class assembled under the shade of a tree. Someone started a song, “Mandela Mandela, Nelson Mandela..”. We shouted those words at the top of our voices. Manjula teacher, my class teacher in Class III asked all of us to write our names against the numbers. That was a signature campaign- the first I participated in. Empowerment, ego massage and such happened. You may call it by any name. It may not have been willingly; I did not have a choice. That was the first time I put my signature.

No. Not really. Two years before this,the same teacher had made us start savings a/c in the nearest SBT. All of us had to give her Rs.5. She did the rest. Signatures were ours. That passbook is still a prized posession.

We were growing up. Writing with pen was no longer a luxury and was officially permitted. Hours were spent testing every Hero pen. Signature was used heavily to smoothen the nib and also to kill time. Going back to signature campaigns, I tried one such along with Sajith. This was to impeach a friend who was then the school deputy pupil leader. We managed signatures of many kids. We were in XI. VI or VII class kids were very sweet. Signatures were just chocolates away. That campaign had a premature death. Rather, was killed by Jaggu, the acting Principal. We failed to understand why she could not be impeached. Jaggu did not believe in democracy. What other reason can I think of for threatening to suspend us?

1989 was marked the centenary celebrations of Nehru’s birth. Our text books had a few lines on(by) Jawaharlal Nehru. His initials were my favorite. The J and H connected by a loop and an inclined line that fell backward. Many a bottles of Chelpark were spent on these initials. There was Gandhiji’s Talisman too in our books. I had no clue what a Talisman meant. His signature was tough to copy.
I didn’t have to forge dad’s signature to get Progress Reports signed. Throwing tantrums after dad left for work was enough to acquiesce mom to signing. In fact, there was one instance when I had to put dad’s signature. It was the last day to send the CBSE Medical Entrance application and dad was out of town. I had to.
Apart from this, I would have practiced a lot on RN Malhotra’s signature in Hindi. During the times when I started noticing RBI Governor’s signatures on currency notes, it was this gentleman all over. Ra Na Malhotra was an interesting signature to attempt in Hindi. The lower denomination notes (Re 1, Rs 2) had Finance Secretary’s signature. Manmohan Singh was still in circulation.


From simply writing my name to finding the best N from calligraphy books, the sign has come a long way. Deciding between dotted and circular tittles or the choice of using my second name or part thereof, confusions have been plenty. This change can’t be done overnight. If you do, your next credit card purchase may be annulled for suspected fraud.

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1 NirmalaNo Gravatar { 02.21.10 at 2:59 pm }

Signed in Niks!
You seem to have a great memory of our school times. Did I sign too for Mandela’s release ? Thats kewl :)) Read the hate story again! Did you really go to a church!? We have to talk about this next time ;)

2 scorpiogeniusNo Gravatar { 02.21.10 at 6:59 pm }

I was inspired by my mother’s signature, her way of amalgamating the first 3 letters into one big word-curry. But I think the first time I remember signing was for my SSLC Book. We were all briefed about developing a signature we’ve to carry around for the rest of my life. But I didn’t do well, I guess.

I just got curious to see how much my signature has changed over the years. Have a look Nikhil ;)

in SSLC Book:
and now:

Only thing, now that the S, O and A have all been made into an ‘avial’ :lol:

I was a bit concerned that my signature looked different from the all-too-important SSLC book but someone told me it doesn’t matter because you’ve done it when you were just 15-16. I was told it doesn’t have any legal value, just a futile exercise carried by our education think-tanks.

3 Preeti ShenoyNo Gravatar { 02.21.10 at 7:49 pm }

Chelpark and SBT brought back fond memories! I used to prefer Bril though :)
Have scrubbed ink stained fingers many times on granite stones used for washing clothes! :)

Send me a sample of your handwriting. :) I do graphology.


4 xyleneNo Gravatar { 02.22.10 at 7:06 pm }

I remember when I signed for my class Xth application, the class teacher said ” What is this? Just your name and a line? Is that your signature? You cant change this signature, ever!!”
My signature transformed over the years, its getting shorter every year and the bank is not noticing it. :D

5 Sajith MNo Gravatar { 02.22.10 at 7:14 pm }

Chelpark and Hero pen do bring back some sweet memories. As for banks none of them have suspected fraud on cheques or cards even though my scribble rarely matches the signature on their book. Ah, well..

6 ArchanaNo Gravatar { 02.23.10 at 8:43 am }

why do you always think of class III, IV or II? i m jealous of your memory now!!!
for me too, class 10 teachers had rather ‘ordered’ to just write name, but I had practised many times before, and added a slanting line and two dots beneath it.. I remember the teacher had got angry and made some remarks about it too!! :P Of course, the sign is not the same now..!
You could have added your present or past sign to give a personal touch to the post! ;)

7 ZahraNo Gravatar { 02.23.10 at 12:47 pm }

Kollaam…..:) Hero pens are definitely a phase by themselves. Extremely handy for “pen fights” as well!! I remember my frantic attempts to create a “stylan” signature before giving my passport renewal application…. now I’m stuck with that till I push 40!!! ;p

Btw, does anybody even check signatures for credit card purchases anymore??? Methinks I could scrawl “Mallika Sherawat” and get away with it…. :((

8 maddyNo Gravatar { 02.28.10 at 9:04 pm }

nothing is more memorable than the pretty teacher of mine ( in college – one whom all of us ogled) who said i should do better if i combined the two words of my last name into one in writing it & in signature, which i promptly did…and it has been so ever since..well, pretty faces have helped ships sail and what not – but this i think is unique..

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