“A word after a word after a word after a word is power” – Margaret Atwood
Having been fascinated with fountain pens since childhood, there always was a longing for me to use fountain pens. At an office event, a wine tasting, I saw one of the judges from Germany, using a fine Montblanc fountain pen. That led me into buying a LAMY Vista spending -what at that time felt like- a huge amount; 2500INR. This was 2019. I was seldom using the LAMY and my fingers touched screens and keyboards more than it touched pens through the year. However, the longing to use the pen was there.
Cut to 2020, the COVID-19 induced lockdown locked our minds and body within the confines of four walls. No travelling, hence no expense on travelling. A lot of free time and money on my hands. I already had more than 25 wrist watches so buying one more was out of the question. I ended up contemplating, and eventually joining a Fountain Pen Group on Facebook. Meeting a lot of like-minded people can sometimes act as a catalyst and it flamed my interest in Fountain pens again, like oil to fire. Soon the 2500 INR spent started to feel like nominal coinage. I was introduced to a large number of new pen brands- Indian, Chinese, Taiwanese, American, Italian – the choices spoilt me. I ended up acquiring more pens and inks than I knew what to do with, in a short span of few months.
This caused a dilemma: What do I do with the new acquisitions?
I saw a lot of FP users writing and some users drawing and sharing them on the groups. It hit me like a bullet. What if I combined both? While I am neither a pundit in penmanship nor a Picasso – it seemed like something unique that I could try. Thus, began my journey in the world of journaling. Being from a communications background, I could collate a lot of information about a topic very fast and the presentation was made easier with my PGDM in photojournalism. I have, in the last few months, almost exhausted a diary – writing on varied subjects. Journaling quickly became a weapon of spiritual combat – a way to put thoughts and imagination on paper.
The two most important things that the habit of journaling provided was first, I could get into the habit of the process of writing and not just blindly acquiring pens, second, I could use my pens a lot more! I sit for half an hour to one-hour post dinner, and practise. The secret of doing something daily is making yourself fall in love with the process and not the outcome. I fell in love with both. This has not only allowed me to have an opportunity to stay away from screens (Mobile, tablet, computer etc) but also find my zen. It provides me peace, (inked) happiness and gives me an immense sense of freedom. Freedom to write, freedom to express, freedom to not think about being judged by others (evident from having acquired a meagre 90 odd followers in 6 months on Instagram).
Coronavirus has not been kind to any of us. While the four walls restrain us, the mighty fountain pen provided respite. It allowed me to not have an idle mind. I was fighting he coronavirus chaos outside, alone, with a small fountain pen in my hand – and it seems like I am winning the war. The fountain pen, call it a work of art, call it a scientific genius, call it mightier than a sword, is truly an amazing instrument, a companion.
One must remember that it is not about having the best handwriting or being the best artist. It is about enjoying the process of researching on a particular topic, and writing and sketching. I hope the fountain pen industry gives the same amount of respect to the FP users who use the products to create something, as they do to manufacturers. I hope we can teach the next generation to use these beautiful tools that can start and end wars (and teach them not to start or end wars). The only advice I would have for others who are starting out, like me, is to uncap the pen, take a piece of paper and just write.
A Mumbaikar, appreciator of fountain pens, fine Journals, mechanical watches and comfortable shoes, Communications Officer for an NGO in daylight, voracious Fountain Pen user by night. I started writing and using fountain pens for journaling about various topics of art, culture, history and more in 2020. You can find my work: https://www.instagram.com/rit.writes_journal/