September 5, 2010 saw me all eager and ready to write my first (ever) exam (after 15 years) at ACJ. Since it was an open book exam, some of us thought we would beat the system by pooling our class notes. A friend of mine, one of the conspirators, had the habit of taking notes on loose sheets, and she brought them into the hall, all neatly segregated as per different topics. I was impressed with her arrangement. She used different coloured gem clips for different topics. I was pretty sure that it was easy to figure out different topics that way.
Gem clips, I thought, was the best way of holding together all those loose sheets, just like the fear of exams that was holding us together. But trouble started when we started passing her notes around. Since gem clip just holds the paper together, and does not tie them up, the sheets started slipping off. This resulted in a jumble of papers on the floor, and soon most of the exam time was spent on segregating her notes rather than writing the paper.
Gem clips are useful when there are few sheets involved. They are also useful when we have to keep rearranging the papers. The innocuous bent wire that has served us as a paper clip has seen many innovations since 1867, when it was first patented. Gem clips were also used in many uncanny ways, as symbols of protest to open door locks; it is used in various interesting ways. With the advent of plastic coating, now the clips have become colourful and attractive. It was so ubiquitous in the offices, that even Microsoft thought it to be prudent to use it as a symbol of an office assistant in MS word.
But after the day of my first exam, I must confess I have understood the paperclip’s downside. My friend too has learnt her lesson well. The next day she had got her notes stapled, which meant that we could never borrow her notes or pass the loose sheets around. Our wings were clipped indeed. Unfortunately, our friendship also resembled those loose notes, held by clip. As soon as the common factor of exam fear vanished we also slipped off from contact. We could not staple our friendship. Obviously our friendships and relationships too are sometimes crooked.
[Special Thanks to my instructor Gita Abraham for making me realise the fun part of editing as well as writing about such a innocuous everyday item like a paperclip. This Article was given a better shape by her expertise.]