It was summer 1984 in the Dominican Republic, when my mum signed me up for a course to learn how to type. Her argument was that I should invest in this skill, as in two years time I'd be in college and I'd be able to type my own papers. The cool catch was: the course took place at the university campus and I loved the idea to combine it with sitting at my mum's lectures. It made me feel like a sophomore.
Back then, electric typewriters were a luxury. I learned typing on one of those bulky, clumsy mechanic machines. I still remember how I loved the sound they made as we hit the keys. That clack-clack symphony of 30 typists in training, all chasing each other with a crescendo speed. As if we were playing the piano in allegro, then in prestissimo, something that I always dreamed of learning. But my modest parents couldn't afford it for me during that time .
My favourite part was the fastest-typist competition: we had to reproduce a piece of text under three minutes. I always ended amongst the top three. My next level was the blind-typing challenge: the fastest 'blind' typist with least mistakes was the best. I also beat that one.
I liked it so much, that I fantasised with becoming a stenographer in court cases. Later on, not only I had temp jobs as a secretary, but I had the chance to type on an electric Olivetti. It made me feel extra important!
When I started college, I typed my own essays and I even earned some money transcribing manuscripts for others. By that time, computers were new to education and Wordperfect was THE THING to learn!
Now I seldom use a pen. And when I see people typing with two or four fingers, I always recall my mum's gift. Like she said when I was a kid, and didn't get the piano I asked for Christmas:
"We cannot afford a piano, but we can offer you the best education".
Years went by and writing became my instrument of expression. Tonight, like piano to poetry, the hushed typing on my high-tech keyboard blends with my hasty words' melody. I close my eyes, running after the wonderful inspiration that made this memory possible.
Thank you mum.
Published in Six Word Memoirs