This was in 2016. I was going to Bangkok to teach and he was going there with his distributors for what is known as an off-site.
If you have travelled the Kolkata-Bangkok route you would know what carriers mean. They are a lot who travel regularly to Bangkok for buying stuff in bulk for sale in the city. They mainly buy apparels and accessories but they also have electronics on their purchase list. They travel in a group and their bonhomie tends to try you out in the flight. So, he was a god-send.
For him, therefore, I was as much a relief as he was to me. The time for filling in forms came and as is the wont with their generation and the age of disposables he didn’t have a pen with him. Have you ever noticed how many people on international flights tend to borrow pens from others? He was no exception.
So, I brought out my pen, he looked at it and exclaimed, ‘’Dada, fountain pen! I didn’t know they were still in use! Where do you get inks from? I would love to use one!’’ The fact that I got him a fountain pen at Bangkok and that he bought one for me from his tour in Europe is a different story. But what is relevant is the fact that he has started noticing how a class of people use fountain pens and do so with a flourish. He has realized that flaunting fountain pens is a statement of class! (In case you are wondering whether I had lent my Mont Blanc to him the answer is no. But I did lend him a ball point that I also carry for occasions like this.)
For me, fountain pens are a way of life. When I use it the feeling is sensual. It’s like an affair that grows and deepens over a period of time. The first hold is awkward, almost shy. A bit resistant and you are not sure of the grip. Then you find the sweet spot. It starts giving in to your desire and the flow turns into a music. Your thoughts start flowing through it. First it connects to you, then it connects you to the world. Your thoughts, your musings all are born off it.
On the other hand, a ball point to me is more a friend with benefits than a life partner. The pen that you have is not the one that you write with. It’s holder to the ultimate writing instrument that is the refill. Once the refill is exhausted, you throw it out and use another. So, every so often, you are using a different tip to put your thoughts onto the paper. Whereas, with the fountain pen it’s the nib that stays with you and becomes an extension of your hand that pours your thoughts onto the paper. Ball points are one-night stands as it were, while fountain pens are companions for keeps.
Come to think of it, my pens are not only instruments to write with but also repository of memories. The pen and the nib that wrote my answers at the exam halls also wrote my love letters. With the same nib I signed on my son’s birth certificate application. I couldn’t say the same thing about the refill that would have written my answers.
And yes, I have my father’s pen and how I wish my son would cherish my memory writing with my fountain pen and tell the world about his inheritance. Money is abstract. But a fountain pen is concrete. And it carries your memory through generations. A legacy that inheres in it your thoughts across time. It’s not only my way of life, it’s a carrier across time of my being and becoming.
A content strategist and an experienced media professional with a passion for weaving words, Suparna is regarded as a pioneer in modern business journalism in the Bengali media. An eloquent and proficient writer in both English and Bengali with 40 years of experience, he is known for his astute and incisive analysis of government and corporate policies and is a regular presence at seminars organized by national level chambers of commerce and international organisations.
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