She may be partially deaf and only 23, but Kolkata-based Kruthika Ramakrishnan is on a mission to save the dying art of 'writing by hand'Sharika Nair
I remember reading an article on how the sparrow, once a quintessential part of the milieu in every Indian village and town, is now an endangered species. And unlike the tigers and giant pandas, they are leaving the planet so quietly that nobody seems to be noticing. The sorrow I feel when Kruthika Ramakrishnan points out that writing by hand might become extinct in the foreseeable future is quite similar.
Already, the fountain pen, in all its leaky, messy glory, is no longer a part of today’s school-going kids’ lives. Will handwriting also go the way of the dodo, confined to museums like some prehistoric cave art, I wonder? Not if 23-year-old Kruthika has her way.
Kruthika, along with her younger brother Koustubh, has founded a startup called Wrilax to promote ‘handwriting’. Wrilax stands for Write to Relax, and they want people to take a few minutes off from a day filled with smartphones, laptops, and the Internet to write something with the pen. Wrilax has recently created their Facebook page and their website is currently under construction. It is taking longer than usual because they want to practise what they preach, and so the website is to be entirely handwritten. Kruthika is also trained in Calligraphy and works as a freelancer with Kolkata-based startup Outbox, who deliver surprise gifts to people on behalf of their loved ones on special occasions.
Language of the soul
Kruthika has congenital hearing loss of 90 per cent, and did not speak till the age of four. With the help of hearing aids and top-notch speech therapy, her communication skills improved. Originally from Coimbatore, Kruthika grew up in New Delhi and the family of four moved to Kolkata a few years ago. A fighter to the core, Kruthika even attended a public speaking course in college, to further hone her speaking skills. “I was advised to wear hearing aids, be sent to a special school, and learn just one language – preferably English,” says Kruthika.
But her parents didn’t want her to stick to one language and ensured she painstakingly learnt her mother tongue Tamil, along with English, Hindi and Bengali. Her parents were against admitting her in a special school and she studied in regular schools throughout. It was not easy and she had to work doubly hard. She could hear her teachers only if she was seated in the front row. With supportive faculty and friends at Apeejay School, where she studied, she was able to perform well in academics. She has completed her Graduation in Education Honours from Loreto College, and is currently pursuing her Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management from St. Xavier’s College.
It could be because of her speech limitations that Kruthika poured her heart and soul into writing. In school and college, she was sought after for her writing skills. She pursued a Calligraphy course at Loreto, and taking it a step further, completed a course in Graphology too. Graphologists are said to be able to read a person’s personality and qualities through their writing samples and Kruthika claims she is well-versed in this science. Kruthika says,
Calligraphy is a very beautiful art that helps you develop concentration and patience. It is almost like meditation. I pass into a world of my own when I am writing.
She also helps school students improve their handwriting and feels such a change can make them better performers. She also taught Calligraphy to students at The Oral school for Deaf Children at Kolkata as part of her University moral studies assignment, and the joy she saw in the children while practising the skill helped her make up her mind that she was on the right path in life.
Plans for the future
Kruthika wants to popularise and establish the brand name Wrilax with the help of social media, and then pitch to corporates so that people can take to writing as a therapeutic habit, like music or yoga. Kruthika and Koustubh also have plans to request leading pen manufacturers to support their cause for mutual benefit. Kruthika’s dream is that one day, the word ‘wrilax’ will feature in dictionaries as a verb.