Saturday, August 4, 2012


My first memories of using a pen are from when I was about ten years old. We shifted from pencils to pens in class 5. Geometry was called space-work, and trignometry was unknown. The pens were ink pens, and ball point pens were frowned upon, they were messy and spoiled writing. The ink pens were called pilot pens, and we felt very important using them When they dropped on the ground, their nibs broke and then with ten paise you bought a new one. Everything was replaced, and the new nib, like, the ink filler rubber tube was a mystery. A broken nib could however give you a fashionably thick writing, which was somehow very aristocratic, and not against the rules. It looked like the quills that my sister and I wrote with when we were in my father's village Niranam.   You could pick a rooster's feather, or a hen feather and write with it, making as much mess as you wished, since it was the summer holidays and people left you free to roam and idle. Even if there was holiday homework, no one was supervising it. Since I  had a problem with numbers, I was the only one set to the table by my father's brother, and I had to slog away endlessly memorising tables which did not stick in my head for more then five minutes, and then they were gone. The family was quite perplexed by my inability to count. However, I survived the exclamations.
A pen was something everyone coveted. It was like being grown up and self assured, like wearing chiffon and pearls, which none of us grew up to do. We were born to cotton, and stuck to wearing cotton all our lives. The moment synthetic touched our skins, we would break out in rashes. Niranam had it's own silk cotton trees, and the cotton would fly around, but before that, my grand mother would have harvested it to make new pillows. They were amazingly light. Now when I shop for quilts and pillows I have to settle for  some ghastly polyester. I sleep well enough though on them, so clearly all of us are implicated in the death of the cotton farmers from debt.

No comments:

Post a Comment