There was a man called Parker / Whose pen unfortunately was a Sheaffer! – Fountain Pen Limericks for the ink-stained souls.
A limerick is a short poem of five lines – the last words of the first two and of the last line rhyming, while the third and the fourth line, usually shorter, incorporate a different rhyme. It is simple, often raunchy – ribald even – and is known for its tang, its zing, its risque aftertaste! As kids, we just couldn’t have had enough of them, a pleasure that somehow got misplaced as we became more and more seriously drawn into the business of growing up. Do we miss the nonsense? Do we miss those yonder days and the limericks – the AABBA rhyming? Do we miss the innocence of gulping our guilt subconsciously as we recited them, “dirty” ditty’s with the “devil may care” attitude of rebels that adolescence had all turned us into? Like hell, we do. At least, I do.
As my reigning passion is fountain pens, I often search for limericks with the pen as its central theme and am dismayed, that even Google, that returns a zillion entries in seconds on everything from Sunny Leone’s rakhi brothers to the alien influence on the design of chopsticks, is so resoundingly, read obscenely, silent on the subject. The few good ones that I have collected over the years are reproduced here and I hope that you, bearers of the mutant gene that compels us to be fountain pen fanatics, will enjoy them as much as I did in collecting them. As a matter of fact, nothing will please me more than to have you fountains of beauty contribute the ones that I must have missed to keep the collection growing.
I have also done the second-best thing – collected limericks and changed key words to make them fall in line as it were – to fountain pen-ise them, for the consumption with inks and paper. A kind of a tea ceremony limerick, if ever there was anything like it. Now, this is obviously a very promising area and I am sure that out there in the community, there are many with talents far in excess of what I can exaggerate as my own, who can chip in with their additions, alterations and creations.
I have also taken the liberty of trying my hand (yes, I do write down things, meticulously at that, before I key in – another case of old habits dying hard) with a few limericks, if only to fill in the space and make the story of a decent length (truth be told, anything smaller will not get the kind of SEO traction that will help it ride up the optimisation ladder, saddled as it is with my dense language, that both Rudolf Flesch and J. Peter Kincaid individually and collectively find unfriendly as their seminal Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level has pointed out repeatedly.)
Before I venture any further, I must make a confession though – there is an inherent disconnect between a fountain pen and a limerick. A fountain pen stands for a lot of things that a limerick does not, cannot ever, lay its claims on – a fountain pen, for example, is aristocracy personified. It is so “landed gentry”, replete with its stiff upper lip, as opposed to the lewd and bawdy tone (and tenor) of the limerick. A fountain pen, if nothing, points at the refined tastes of the one who wields it, and almost by default, we co-relate it with a language that is not only noble but also morally upright. The words that flow, either spoken or written, are expected to be measured and delivered with a panache for maximum effect, naturally free from expletives of any kind. The limerick is more “on the street” – exhibiting a verve that is, if not downright vulgar, coarse at the least.
Shudder as much as I may, I cannot browbeat my mind with a “perish the thought”. To a fountain pen, a limerick is really no more than a lowly, despicable ball-point pen. Yes, of the “use and throw” kind. A fountain pen is for people whose signatures have already become autographs, while a limerick is, kind of, staple for those who are still filling in the forms for social aid, needless to say, with ball point pens – the types that are tied to the counter, least the user takes it away!
However, if you ask me to cross my heart and swear, I will say, that to me, such a line of thinking is downright bigoted, discriminatory, chauvinistic, intolerant and prejudiced. As a kid when I memorised the randy (even libidinous) rhymes of the limericks, we had never, ever, thought in those terms, though we were well aware of what was expected from us “good boys”, from “respectable families” and yet chose to be drawn to the saucy poems, often fighting with the fear of severe chastisement that was inevitable if caught.
Neither am I apologetic for my efforts now and nor is my pen – for beauty and boisterousness, both, lie in the eye of the beholder. But still, I have tried to sanitise the thought and the content as much as I can (often going to the extent of sacrificing the real excitement of the pieces for the consumption of a wider audience – fountain pen fanatics all.) Hope you enjoy reading the piece as much as I have writing it and look forward to your contributions – collected, curated, or created. Would love it if we can have more about the “Man from Madras / whose pen was made of brass” or “the young lady who loved to lick / her pen was, predictably a Click”!