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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

My signature phobia

Pallavi Singh, Hindustan Times   November 17, 2012
First Published: 11:08 IST(17/11/2012) | Last Updated: 11:10 IST(17/11/2012)

"All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears: of falling, of failing, of the dark, of lobsters, or of speaking before a Rotary Club," said Dave Barry, author and humorist.

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I know of a lot of people who fear heights, roller coasters, mathematics or aunts. My sister has irrational fear of rodents and roaches, and will bolt and scream at the sight of one. Wild horses couldn't drag my grandmother to board a flight. My mother-in-law is petrified of escalators and refuses to visit a mall or cinema house where she maybe required to step on one.

A friend cannot pass a small pond of water without an involuntary shudder, imagining herself flailing and drowning in it.

However, is there anyone out there who may hold my hand and give me succour in my peculiar phobia? It is like no other and causes me acute embarrassment and my husband a coronary. Because I am afflicted with a ludicrous and bizarre fear, and am the despair of him and my bank manager.

My eyes glaze over and I break into a cold sweat whenever presented with a document or cheque to sign because, in all certainty, my signature will never match the previous. I approach the paper with trepidation and a sinking heart because, try as I may, the fear of replicating the dreaded mark overcomes me. My hand falters as I try desperately to recall the previous contours of my autograph, and in spite of all effort, I end up creating a very different-looking specimen. The bank manager will squint and frown, while my husband will be ready to explode.

I recall a terrible day at a dusty, ancient tehsil office in Gurgaon. With six people, including a menacing, moustached patwari breathing down my neck, I executed a variety of outrageous flourishes, much to my viewers' growing astonishment. Page after page of a sheaf of documents were put before me, and it was as if my hand had a life of its own. Husband dear, ready to disown me, beat a hasty exit as soon as the formalities were over, with an abashed me in tow. I think he gave up on me that day.

As children, in our free time in school, we would spend hours practising important-looking signatures and trying to create the most complex ones. Little did I know it would be my bête noire some day.

The writer can be reached @pallavi66in@yahoo.co.in

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