Saturday, July 2, 2011

Autograph Please!!

Chances are, if you passed out of school before the Orkut/Facebook/Twitter era, you will have, amongst your forgotten belongings, something called an Autograph book. Yes, the little red and gold (which was my book's color) or pink and peach (my sisters'), with cartoon characters like Winne the Pooh (a hot favorite with girls) or Race cars (you guessed it!) on them. The paper was usually textured for extra effect, and everyone was SUPPOSED to have one.

Its not the kind of stuff stalkers of movie stars or cricketers have - I am talking of the one we all had in our school or college, where we poured out hormone ravaged, acne inducing emotions to our friends.

It was much more than a book, mind you. It meant many things:

  1. The owner of the autograph book had his / her personality scrawled all over the first page. It could be sinister warnings about who it belonged to, or sweet introductory messages about the person. It could have profound philosophical messages (such as, "Friendship is the best ship in the world." - I swear, this is for real!) or cheesy but talented acronyms (such as FAF - friends are forever)
  2. The number of pages you had filled out indicated the number of close friends you had when you were leaving school / college
  3. The number of autograph seekers you had indicated your popularity in class - infact, there were a few of us who used wait with bated breath when we saw anyone approaching in our direction with a smile and that little book in their hand. The biggest insult you could give off to anyone without getting suspended, was to NOT ask someone for their autograph on the last day.
  4. The messages ranged from sly, coy, shy, funny, sweet to absolute nonsense. Look at this one: "I saw a monkey hanging from the tree, Upon closer look it turned out to be you! Keep in touch forever!!" I mean, really! Who writes stuff like this today? Even 7 year olds write more sensible stuff today. But guess what? This was written to me by a young pimply girl in the senior class who I adored to the heavens, and I couldn't stop grinning for a week after she wrote that to me!!
  5. This was also a medium for shy messages to show some signs of a crush you had been hiding all these years. In the days I am talking about, SMSes and chatting were not an option. Even phones were the ones which had parallel connections, so talking to your secret crush was out of the question. Then came this opportunity in the form of a farewell message - we would write our heart out in that! E.g. "I will always remember your smile....." The fact that we probably would never see the person again added to the drama of it all, and made us a little bolder than we really were.
  6. It also served as a talent showcasing event. The good artists, poets, sketch artists, comedians, linguists, avid readers, Shakespeare fans ..... each person would put out their talent in that little page. Sometimes, the good ones used to get pulled out of the autograph seeking crowd, taken to a corner, and a pen pushed into his/her hand with a request for something 'special'
  7. The autograph writing also served as a water-under-the-bridge message. Sworn enemies in class would walk up to each other and offer their autograph books as a peace pipe. Ofcourse, we had to think up clever stuff to write in there too. "Wishing you all the success in your life." (yeah sure!!). It is surprising how years later, if you meet that very person, you can spend hours together, laughing like old friends, no sign of animosity!
  8. Good friends used this as an opportunity to write their addresses and phone numbers down for each other, so that they can 'keep in touch' - remember, there was no Internet, and we had to rely on those numbers called pin code! 
  9. The most serious autographs came from teachers. The same teachers we were fond of, terrified of, in awe of .... they wrote in their blessings or their mantras for success - we would then flaunt the messages to each other.
I don't know how many of us still know where our 'autograph book' is. But if one is lucky enough to come by it in this fast paced thriller called life, a few hours of nostalgia will bring on that extra energy needed to fulfil at least some of the wishes expressed in that little red and gold book with textured paper.


  1. That was great, brought back all those memories, past few weeks have been the same with all those photographs coming up on facebook.... I got around to going through my Autograph book from School..... Circa 1987.........

  2. Meena, I think I know what brought this on :)
    Next time I go home, I'm taking that book along and am planning to post some of the hilarious contents of the book

  3. I think I lost mine. But I recently found the shirt which everyone had written stuff on. Aah nostalgia :)

  4. @Sobi... i've been getting my steady dose of nostalgia from 2 quarters recently - IHM and my school! But it does take you to a totally different high!

    @Shadia .... absolutely right! Your photograph and the resultant flurry of activity brought this on! Thank you!

    @Anish ... thats a wonderful tradition... thanx for coming by!

  5. I had the hobby of collecting autographed photographs of Bollywood stars...I would write to them and they (obviously their secretaries) sent me their autographed pics.I still have the collection.

  6. @Shobha ... wow! thats quite an interesting hobby! And you must really treasure them!! Thanks for reading.

  7. Wow Nirvana, beautiful post...really brought back some nice memories :)

    I had this crush on this junior girl and i couldn't think of any way to get her address.. so i created an autograph book, asked some fifty other people to write in it, n finally handed it to her. I finally got her address but she never replied to my letters which i sent her after college.

    Today, its the messages from the other fifty that really touch me n make tht book so special.


  8. @R-A-J .... why am I not surprised?? :-D
    But yeah... it really brings back memories, and sometimes even reminds you of the person that you were, and the aspirations that one held at that point in time. The really lucky ones can still relate to their old selves too...