The first page is where it all starts. Literally everything that exists now is because of the first page. Like the big bang was the precursor to the universe we see today, the first page is the precursor to the universe we create in our minds. This piece is a tribute to the tacit influence the first page has over our lives.
So let’s begin at the the beginning at the page itself. What might have conspired is this, primeval man, engrossed in his memories must have felt the need to record them on some kind of a surface. A surface that could be preserved, that he could easily look at when he wanted to and in this way, keep the memories fresh in his mind. The best candidate to that description, man found in his own shelter. Resting his heels in his cave, he stared at the walls. The stones that made up his cave were fine specimens – smooth and even surfaces, an offwhite tinge. He must have noticed a charcoal mark on a corner of the wall. It was an accident, from when he and his brother had been practising fighting with burnt logs of firewood. That sent man spiralling into childhood memories. But then like a spark of flint, an idea struck. He picked up some remaining firewood and started etching marks on the wall. Then he saw that he could mark the walls with charcoal in such a way that the shapes formed could resemble animals, humans, trees and if he put his mind to it, his memories. This is the first page in the story of ‘The first page’.
After then, like our universe today, the world of man expanded in leaps and bounds. The reason – one man decided to start etching out a story, a story that would be the big bang in the universe of pages. Unlike an explosion, the beginning of recorded media was gradual. It wasn’t until thousands of years later that man began to write on dried leaves. They were much more flexible, he found, and easy to store than huge slabs of stone. Ofcourse, stone inscriptions were much more durable, but man found it a worthy compromise to drop inscribing stones and take up inking leaves. Since leaves were discovered as a great way of storing thoughts and memories. If you are one of the precise types and you need your information technically accurate, this was the actual beginning of the concept of pages.
A leaf or a specifically sized part of a leaf began to be used widely. Though the size of the leaf varied from one region to the next. People prefferred leaves that were locally and generously available in nature. Now, a single leaf was the historical equivalent of a page. That is the reason why a new beginning is also phrased as ‘turning over a new leaf’ – it means turning over a page. But for the precise ones, as I earlier pointed out, it still isn’t a page until it is a part of a larger collection of pages.. It is just a peice of a leaf or ‘ a piece’ – which is what they call an article in contemporary journalism – because it isn’t a part of any larger collection. It is independant. A piece.
Soon, an ancient clerk must have gotten fed up with all the individual leaves he had to deal with. He must have spent every moment of his tedious job thinking about how to make his work easier. Then whilst having his meal, he must have pushed them all aside from his table to make space for his meal. Individual leaves had a tendency to fly off to a mild breeze. So his stacked them one over the other so that they wouldn’t be scattered. When he finished his meal, the leaves were still their, in precisely the order that he had stacked them. Then the question he asked himself, is an important question in the history of the human race.
‘What if that there was something that could keep the leaves bound to each other, in a pre-arranged order allowing someone to easily read both sides of every leaf?”
Soon man figured how to bind papyrus into leather casings and make them heavy enough to remain unbudged by winds and yet be portable enough that it could be carried anywhere. People of a popular language began call it a ‘book’. Finally, a single leaf of the book began to be called a page. The story of the page ends here. And the heroic tale of the ‘book’ begins. This might be the end of this page. But as long as there are eager minds wanting to learn, adventures waiting to be inked, and tales wanting to be read – the page will live on.
This was something I wrote some 2 years ago. Thought about sharing this with you.