Fountains of Love: My Pens

I don’t know how many of us are still fascinated with fountain pens, but there was a time when I had only two options, either pencil or fountain pen as writing instruments. Dip pen or a ball point pen was not a preferred instrument then for me.

But like other children of my age, I used to enjoy all the pen related activities to the hilt.

A fountain pen uses a metal nib to apply a water-based ink to paper. The most important part of a pen is its nib that ends in a round point of various sizes, e.g. extra fine, fine, medium or broad. The nib usually has a tapering slit cut down its centre to pass the ink down the nib by capillary action. Nib plating and nib tipping used to be an added attraction of a pen for a curious child like me.

While buying a new nib from the shop, we would set it in the pen and then sprinkle a few drops of ink on the paper and put the nib on those fallen ink drops to measure its ability to absorb the ink. This used to give the feeling of a budding young scientist.

But the more interesting part was the ink for refilling fountain pens. Then Camel, Camlin, Sulekha and Chelpark brands of ink were always available in every household, though some would have big bottles or would make bottles of ink using ink tablets. Apart from royal blue ink, I used to prefer pink and turquoise colours for my artistic writing.

And the role of a dropper for transferring ink from inkpot to fountain pen was not less important. It was also a distinguished work in itself.

As a fountain pen releases more ink onto the page, it’s capable of creating more vivid and expressive lines, as also for improving handwriting. Some of us used to write with the nib upside down to give calligraphic effects.

Pilot, Hero, Lamy and Parker pens were considered to be the prestigious possessions then. But irrespective of brands, almost every week we used to open it for servicing by putting all the parts in hot water. We had also developed an expertise to take out the garbage collected in the middle of the nib with a blade, whenever the pen would stop working smoothly.

And despite all safety and precautionary measures, if the pen didn’t work, then we would spray the ink on the people sitting nearby in the process of giving blows to the pen.

But ink was a great source of friendship and cooperation too, as we learnt the process of ink donation, equivalent to blood donation.

There were also some colleagues of mine, who were not studious, but before going home, they would put ink in their fingers, and sprinkle it on their pants so that the family could see and feel that the child had really worked very hard in school.

But the most innovative use of fountain pens used to be during days of Holi festival, when fountain pens fully loaded with ink would become mini pichkaris (colour guns) for sprinkling colours on one another.

Time passes, people reminiscent of that time are also forgotten in due course, but the memories remain vivid, waiting for us and even for those who helped create those memories at some point of time. Nothing is lost, if we continue to remember those moments as live ones.


–Kaushal Kishore

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38 Comments

    1. Hahaha, I also didn’t realise at that time, but now, when I compare it with what’s available, it gives a different experience altogether. Thank you, Liz 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It’s so true, KK! When I was younger (pre-computers, which is mind-boggling to even think about), we used all types of pens and we wrote in cursive, something young people today know nothing about. Like you, I was fascinated with fountain pens; my father used only fountain pens for all his correspondence. When I was in school learning shorthand, we had to have a couple of sharp pencils at the ready at all times. I still use pens for certain things such as crossword puzzles, greeting cards, shopping lists and writing out checks; everything else is done via computer. I can’t conceive of trying to write a story without my Mac. I don’t think the stores will run out of pens any time soon but the majority of my work is done on the computer. Shades of future past. ✍🏻

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    1. You’re absolutely right, Nancy, we now can’t think of writing without digital support. That makes a fountain pen distinct and a thing to remember. My father also used to write with fountain pens, as he was more concerned about improving handwriting. It’s true that we now use it very less, but its utility won’t diminish in near future. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing such beautiful reflections ✍️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, KK😃👍 you have refreshed memories of all those who used fountain pen in their school days😃 I totally agree with you and was relating with all that you wrote.. you are right, those days only fountain pens or pencils were preferred (by our parents) to be used in order to improve our handwriting. Ball points were considered to spoil handwriting.. and i feel they (our parents) were right in saying so.. 🙂 A good post!! And loved the last closing lines of your post👍

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m happy that you found the post relatable, and happier to know that all parents used to think alike in those days. My father’s daily task was to write one page each in Hindi and English with a fountain pen to improve handwriting. Thank you, Saima for sharing your own experience and liking the post including the closing lines. Much appreciated 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This fascinating post, Kaushal, is proof that you can create a masterpiece even from the diversity of pens and also highlight the friendship from your school days. I have ink bottles and various pens because I like practicing calligraphy.
    Your words reminded me of Thoms Moore’s quote:
    ” Fond memory brings the light of other days around me.”

    Joanna

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Joanna, for appreciating the post, and for sharing Thomas Moore’s quote that is so appropriate here. I’m glad that you still practise calligraphy. Once I had also bought pens and papers for this.

      Like

  4. Haha.. very funny on boys sprinkling their fingers ad shorts to seem more learned and hard working.

    There’s a pen i journal with. Writes with a thick point and feels almost like a pen. I really love it

    Liked by 2 people

    1. नाम तो सुना सा है नितिन जी, पर खासियत कुछ याद नहीं। आप जरा याद दिलाएंगे?

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  5. So thorough and very interesting. Mom favored these pens. When she went from a rich family to being a wife, teacher, and Mom, she started using an in pen that wrote like one of these beautiful pens. I was very young when I used one of her pens and ruined it. I was banned from her pen collection until I was a senior in high school. She thought I was ready; I was banned again. 🙄 Also, her Mother (my Grandmother) had on display in her pink and yellow bedroom, a pink, etched crystal holder for a gorgeous quill feathered fountain pen which was all white. How I dreamed of having it one day, but four of our storage units were robbed after Granny and Mom died a little over a year and a half apart. I have to add I don’t see how no one saw anything. My standing grand piano was difficult to hide and took several to move…it was an antique, a precursor to the Kimball. But, I digress. My apologies to you. Your story has brought back many memories. I can’t thank you enough, KK!!! Beautiful of you to do that for all of us. 😊💕🌸

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I also remember that as a child, I was asked to use pencil rather than a pen. I’m surprised how vivid your memories are, right from pens, holder etc to piano. But I’m not surprised if you have some compelling reasons like I have. There are certain incidents I can’t forget in my life though those happened when I was hardly five or six. But thank you for sharing old memories that made me walk down memory lane.

      Liked by 1 person

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