This week Indiblogger writing topic is about ink pens. I do not own an ink pen. I don’t yearn for a fountain pen. I think, many people in my social circle do not own a fountain pen, anymore. I have a ball point pen, that I use once in a while to sign a cheque book. In this era of electronic money transfer and digital signature, even a ball point pen is also losing its relevance.
I remember that I became an owner of a fountain pen when I went to boarding school in class six. Those days we had to pour ink into the pen from an ink bottle. The process used to be messy, with fingers getting stained and on bad days shirts also used to get colored with blue ink. Intelligent students used to acquire and own a dropper. I was certainly not in that group.
I became seriously envious when one of the students brought an unique fountain pen that would suck ink from the ink bottle. No one had to pour ink from a bottle! What an invention! Such a status symbol in the comity of students! We all would sorround the fellow when he would feed his pen with ink. Not very business savvy, otherwise he could have charged us a fee for watching the feat. Next time I went home, I demanded that I should also have one such miracle of technology. My mother showed me her Sheafer’s pen, which had the identifical technology of ink filling, and above and beyond had a nib made of gold. Needless to say that the ownership of Sheafer’s pen did not transfer to me. Instead a lesser variety was purchased for me. I realised when in the boarding school that the cheaper pens did not suck ink well from the bottles.
There was another kind of pen, that had a syringe like plunger attached at the bottom of the ink holder. By pressing the plunger air was driven out of ink chamber and ink was sucked in by pulling the plunger out. One of the regrets of my pen owning life was that I never owned a pen with plunger type ink filling system. Another pen that became a status symbol in my childhood days was Wing Sung pen made by a Chinese company. This pen came in a golden yellow color cap and looked high end. I never owned one.
Fountain pens used to have a nib, that came in contact with the paper. Quality of a nib dictated handwriting. For us students who had to write fast inorder to take notes, or to write examination papers nib used to lose sharpness on one side, much like sole of the shoe.
When I went to college, ball point pens had arrived and completed their dominance, much to the consternation of bank managers and school teachers. Managers would insist on signing cheque books using a fountain pen only. Since I did not have a bank account, I did not care. School teachers lamented that handwriting of students was going for a toss due to writing with a ball point pen. But I was in college and I did not care. The greatest advantage of ball point pens were that these cheap, easy to use and ideal for speedy writing. Ofcourse, quality of refills used to be an issue. I remember days when in the middle of an examination, I would blow air into my refill. Even students could afford more than one ball point pen, because they were so inexpensive.
Used to seeing shoddy typewritten circulars from college administration as well as government notices, I was seriously impressed when I got a letter of admission from an university abroad. Can a print be so nice, I wondered! My friend educated me of electronic typewriter. When I arrived at the university, desk top computers had made their appearance and gradually became a common place equipment in all laboratories. I remember typing all my reports, papers and thesis, both MSc and PhD, myself on a desk top computer.
When I joined workforce, even in India computers had become a common place item. I do not recall I have written anything lengthy using a pen and paper. Even letter writing have become shorter with the advent of e-mail. In this era of digital signatures and computer generated printouts, I do not own an ink pen. I think, most of my friends do not own a fountain pen. I checked at Amazon, cost of a good Sheaffer’s fountain pen can be as high as five thousand rupees, a good Montblanc pen may cost as much as 36000 rupees. Ofcourse there are less expensive varieties also. Fountain pen, it appears, is used to make a statement of affluence and wealth.
Note : This post is written in response to Indispire prompt. More posts in response to the prompt may be found here.