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     Volume 5 Issue 108 | August 18, 2006 |

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Paper CuT

Nader Rahman

When I joined university I thought it would be nothing but parties and adda, tea breaks and dates, little did I know it would soon turn out to be nothing but papers and papers. For me the word “paper” now holds two distinct connotations, one is for endless hand-outs that are given out during class while the next meaning is rather more sinister. To the dread of every university student “paper” also means a long assignment, usually given with tight guidelines and even tighter submission dates. Within the next ten days I have three important dates to look forward to; a lot of hard work, dedication and perspiration will go into their preparation. These dates won't end with a smile, a whisper and a kiss; they will probably in exhaustion and fear. The fear is that one bad paper might jeopardise the entire semester's grade, guaranteed 'A's become shaky 'B's. What I wouldn't do for a real date now!

Now, writing a paper is fine art, guidelines must be followed, and themes must be maintained but without a personal touch and a certain bit of innovation, the paper will be nothing but another dreary C. One of my papers due is on Shakespeare's Richard III, it would be easy to look the play up on the Internet and then re-write it to suit my purposes but that is a risky ploy. When writing a paper one must be weary of how the Internet is used, if it is a paper with strict guidelines then every, and I mean each and every source of information must be cited in addition to the bibliography. If I were to take information off the Internet without citing it, then there would be serious repercussions. Some instances of plagiarism have resulted in suspensions and expulsion from university, that is a price I am not willing to pay for one small paper. But that does not solve my problem, to me Richard III is just another power hungry politician, he is disfigured and loves younger women. What more do I know about him? What do I know about Machiavellian princes and soliloquies? Do the different generations of women in the play really matter all that much, how would writing seven pages double spaced on them really change my life?

Enough complaining and now down to some writing, as soon as I turn my computer on I start to question the rationale behind such a paper yet again. This has really got to stop, I force myself to at least choose the theme for my paper. I have whittled down the choices to writing about Richard III as a history play or as Richard as a tragic protagonist. Little bits of information trickle down to my brain as I begin the thought process as to which topic I can write more about. Let it be noted that the topic one can write most on is not always the topic one understands best. In this case I can write more about him as a tragic protagonist because I have certain amount of detailed knowledge on Shakespeare's tragic heroes, their characteristics and attitudes. Now I did not say that I understood it all, but I certainly know about it. As for his history plays I probably knew them better but just probably could not write much about them.

This is a real quandary and I deicide to do what anyone desperate enough would, I toss for it. Heads I relate it to Shakespeare's history plays, tails and I justify Richard as a tragic protagonist. I toss the coin and it falls to the floor with metallic grace. It spins for what seems like an eternity and as I lay cheek pressed to the ground I follow its every move. It starts revolving slower and slower, tilts on its axis and then gently falls in what seems like slow motion to me. For a couple of seconds I take my mind off the work at hand and just relax to the beautiful whirring noise of the spinning coin. I came crashing back to reality when I realised my fate, it was heads for history.

Half the night wasted and at least one topic had been decided upon. I felt a real sense of achievement. Only the Victorians could spoil that now. My second paper had to do with either a comparison or contrast of Romantic and Victorian poetry. Initially that seemed to be the easiest of the three papers but little did I know that while their thoughts may have been flighty and words lyrical writing on them could only be called creative writing. The reason behind this term creative writing is that they all seem rather vague in their opinions of love, life and nature. While for one topic it may be easy to compare them because of marked differences with other topics the lines are blurred. This time of night is not helping my writing skills and I decide to at least choose which theme I should follow, either comparing or contrasting Romantic and Victorian poetry. This time the coin toss will not do, I must be more creative. I will decide on the result of the F.A Community Shield, the game had taken place earlier in the day and I did not know the score. If Chelsea wins I'll compare them and if Liverpool wins I'll contrast them. It takes ages to log on to the sky sports website and in an anticlimactic moment only half the page loads. The Reds victory is greeted with muted celebration in Bangladesh as I now have the task of contrasting Victorian and Romantic as genres of poetry.

Two down and one to go, now all I have to do is start and finish a paper on second language acquisition. My third paper was the smallest and I was determined to finish it. I was supposed to assume that I was teaching English as a foreign language and I was given the option to teach either children or adults. Who would I choose and why? It seemed rather easy, I would choose adults because I can reason and relate to them more, thereby enhancing the teaching experience. Then I remembered that simple logic would not do, I had to explain my opinion with the use of the diction of linguistic science. I had had enough, my brain had been toyed with for far too long. The papers could go to hell! I went to bed and decided to look over my papers with fresh eyes in the morning. In my dreams I saw my three professors dressed as Richard III. I submitted my papers late and asked them for my expected grade; in chorus they said “I am not in the giving mood today”.

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