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An ode to fountain pens

The fountain pen has troubled us enough (especially in examination halls). I remember, how it had suddenly dried up when I was trying to balance a tough chemical equation with a few minutes left...

Published: 05th March 2020 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th March 2020 08:20 PM   |  A+A-

MGR signing a register in the presence of then Tamil Nadu CM Annadurai. (File Photo | EPS)

MGR signing a register in the presence of then Tamil Nadu CM Annadurai. (File Photo | EPS)

CHENNAI: As the silvery tip delicately touched the page of my notebook, the words, and thoughts were initially shy of spilling out. Has it been three decades since I last used a fountain pen? Or perhaps more. For long, the flow of thoughts that had been lobbed onto the page (note, I have said lobbed, and not flowed) were dictated by the ballpoint pen. Its despotic hold steadily decimated the art of writing. And then, the digital storm wreaked havoc on the very culture of handwriting.

The fountain pen is now reduced to a nostalgic memory that envelopes the heart with a warm feeling. It has been a secret yearning to get my grip back on the fountain pen as I enjoy writing more than typing. This was to reinvent my lost love, after having had — what I feel — a rather shameful affair with the ballpoint that destroyed my cursive-style writing, a skill that I had carefully cultivated when I was in middle school. With due apologies to Mr John Jacob Loud, who designed this extremely convenient device that revolutionised the concept of writing, ballpoint, for me, had somewhere stabbed the elegance and grace of writing.

So for me, reuniting with the fountain pen was like meeting a childhood friend, with whom you have laughed, bickered and shared the memorable warp and weft of happiness and melancholy. The fountain pen has troubled us enough (especially in examination halls). I remember, how it had suddenly dried up when I was trying to balance a tough chemical equation with a few minutes left for the final bell; and when I was trying to refill my pen in the middle of this chemical equation chaos and attempting to check it by one light shake, the ink sprayed onto the examination paper, frustrating all my efforts. Nevertheless, my bond with this special friend would remain for a few more years because it always ensured elegance in handwriting.

But then, the need for speed and convenience slowly replaced the beauty and grace of writing. And that was when the delicate fountain pen tipped the balance in favour of the rough and sturdy ballpoint.

But change is the only permanent aspect, and the ballpoint could not survive the onslaught of digital typing which came with the effortless ease of delete, copy and paste options. Finally, I decided to go back in time, or rather hold on to a past, and decided to see if I could get back the craft of the years gone by, of substituting writing with the scribbling that I have been doing; to think slowly (and hopefully wisely) before letting the thoughts emblazon the blank paper. So I started with this piece. Though I left the page looking like a battlefield with multiple scratches and overwriting, this exercise did envelope me in warm nostalgia.



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