When I was in school we had a writing assignment for our English class, which was to write an autobiography of an object.
This was when I was eleven years old, the equivalent of the 6th grade if based on the school grade levels in the US. I grew up in Malaysia and English was a second language for many of the citizens here.
The teachers were introducing this to us as a different writing style, and being 11-year-olds we were not that well versed in the life stories of our elders nor could we really write much about our own young lives.
So, the teacher requested that we each chose an inanimate object to write about, for example, a pen, she said.
Now the issue here was not the written autobiography itself.
The problem was this writing assignment turned out to be pretty difficult for me.
Because we had to write from the beginning of the pen’s existence, up to its demise.
Since young, I had already developed a really strong sense of empathy, and to write about the death of a pen as though it was alive and had feelings was pretty hard for me.
I remembered feeling uneasy while writing it out, especially toward the end.
The autobiography went about like this.
“I was a shiny blue pen, made out of plastic and filled with blue ink on the inside. I was new, and I waited patiently in a stationary shop to be bought by someone. Finally one day, a young schoolboy saw me and purchased me. I now had a home and a was made useful. I was happy and ready to serve my new master.”
The ending went about like this:
“He found me after some time in a corner of his bag, and my ink had partially dried out. He tried to use me but due to the inconsistency of the ink, he eventually threw me away into the bin.
There my life ended, alone and unwanted. I was sad that it was the end for me, and I had now no more use to anyone.”
Okay, I probably was less articulate in my words back then, but the gist of the autobiography went as written above.
As an 11-year-old kid, I remembered I felt so sad for the pen.
In fact, I’m feeling a little sad now even remembering this story.
I had become empathetic towards a make-believe story about a blue pen.
The school probably didn’t think of the physiological impact this could have on some students, as it did for me.
Would you have felt the same? Or is this just my own personal issue?