17 January 2021

My mom, a “Pilot” pen and a guy somewhere in China

This pen has a long history with my mom. It was the source of the fountain of all my fascination towards fountain pens. Way back when, mom had taken up a job as a teacher to supplement our family income. Back then, when you joined as a teacher, you went thru something akin to a probationary period – you were called a “casual” teacher. After that you became a “permanent” teacher.

It was 1972. I was six years old. One fine day, I came back from my kinder garten school (Carmel Convent School – which was a girls’ school but that is a story for another day) and noticed some general elevation of mood in the house. Dad and mom were extra happy and mom was cooking special food in the oven. (When I say oven, I mean an old style, coal burning, mobile oven).

I did not know what “casual” or “permanent” meant. But I was plenty happy with the special fritters being made at home. Perhaps wondering when would mom become “permanent” again!

But the crowning glory was the next day. It was a Saturday. I remember because I did not have school but mom did. (She had half day school on Saturdays). She used to carry a small black handbag with her. Not sure why we called it “vanity bag” then.

In any case, she came back home and showed dad something from her “vanity” bag. It was a shining pen. Jet black lacquer body with golden cap. (I was silly enough to jump to the conclusion that it was made of gold). Apparently, mom’s colleagues had gifted her with that pen upon becoming “permanent” to welcome her to their fold.

That was a very special pen for her. She used to guard it like a hawk. Initially, she even kept it in the locker of our almirah (safe). Much later in life, I had seen her bring it out for regular day to day use.

In any case, what fascinated me about that pen was the nib. It is called a hooded nib. Of course, I did not know all of this at that time – but this is something Parker had come up with to slow down the evaporation thru the breathing hole and the slit of the nib. To me, at that time, it looked like no other fountain pen nib I had seen and I was completely taken in by that.

Dad declared that it was a Pilot pen and very expensive. (I suspect that is why it sat in the locker for so long). I am not entirely sure why this pen was called a Pilot pen those days in India. If you are familiar with fountain pens, you will recognize it as a Parker 51.

Much later in life, I had tried to get a pen like mom had. Three years back (three years and one week today), I had found myself in a small fountain pen shop in Kolkata (near Maidan Metro) station and managed to get myself one. It had a classic 1946 nib!!

After my mom’s death, I amped up the search for a pen just like hers. (the one from Kolkata was of different color). After some extensive search up and down the world, located a guy in China who had some vintage Parker pens. A few weeks of patient wait later, it is here!!! Identical copy of what my mom had!!!

My mom’s favorite ink color was blue (she used Sulekha brand). I think I will stick to that color for this pen.

Ah! Those indelible marks moms leave upon you!!! You might even call them “permanent” !!!


Posted January 17, 2021 by Rajib Roy in category "Fountain Pens", "My Family


  1. By Usha Naik on

    This was my favorite pen to have – never did tho – with 5 kids to support, it was tooo expensive. So, had to settle for cheap, fat, ones. I also remember that this pilot pen had a special ink holder – a kind of a pump, with which you pulled in the ink. Thx for the nostalgic trip down Pilot Pen lane!!!

  2. Pingback: A remarkable young gentleman – Rajib Roy

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