It was my English exam. The question paper was as usual easy. After I had finished reading the whole question paper, I decided to start writing. I opened my costliest Parker pen and started writing. Omg! I forgot to fill ink in my pen. What I was going to do? I was shocked, terrified, perplexed and at last relaxed. For a few minutes, I scolded my mom and dad for not checking all these and then I thought to get a pen from my nearby friends.
With an idea of getting a pen without the knowledge of the invigilator, I looked on to the easy possible ways. In the corner of my bench, the newly joined girl had been sitting and she had almost finished a page of the main sheet. I saw her. She also saw me that I was seeing her. The way I looked at her would have surely made her fathom that I was in need of something desperately. My heart craved to ask a pen from her, perhaps, my male ego didn’t permit me to do that. Meanwhile, she put her head down and started writing as it was English exam so the time duration would not be sufficient. I dumped my first choice, as it seemed to be risky and so I looked on for other possible ways.
The invigilator of my hall was our Physics sir and he is strict. We realize how worse we were and the real side of us only during the times of desperate needs. I shut my male ego inside a tight sack, I hissed and gestured my hands towards that newly joined girl. I showed my pen and gestured her to give her extra pen to me.
“This is the pen I write for a long time, if I give it to you my hand-writing will change,” she whispered it to me.
I keenly saw in her pencil box, she had another fountain pen made of wood. I pointed my fore-finger towards it and asked, “What about that pen?”
“It is my favourite pen. This is the first pen my daddy brought for me. I am having it for seven years and I don’t give this to anyone. I am sorry,” she whispered in a very low voice and gave me a helpless look.
“It’s fine. I will manage,” I told her, smiled and asked her to continue her writing. Some of my friends had told me that she was arrogant, they were right I thought so by cursing her in my mind, “Hell with your foolish sentiments and stupid superstitions.”
Meanwhile, my invigilator saw everything happened and he gave me his pen saying, “I have watched you many times. Either you don’t bring a pen or don’t have ink in that pen. This is the last warning for you. If I see you without a pen once again, I would immediately chuck you out of the examination hall.” I gave him a so-happy-smile and started writing.
That evening I went home and shouted at my mother for being irresponsible. Then I immediately changed my dress and went to play as my other play mates had been already waiting for me. Too much tired after playing, I slept earlier as soon as I ate and I woke up lately at 8’o clock in the next morning. I rushed to the school and reached the gate at 8.30, the exact time to enter school in neck of a minute else the school gate would be closed. Outside the exam hall it seemed some of the questions had been known, so my friends were on a hurry and tension to memorize answers for those questions. I gave a short perusal to some random questions and entered the examination hall. After sitting in my spot, I realized that I forgot so many things. I forgot to fill ink in my pen. I forgot that it was only the previous day I got scolding and was given a last warning to bring a proper pen to the examination hall. I forgot that neither distant friends nor the nearby foes would be able to give me a pen and save me. My mind all of sudden went as blank as a last bench student’s exam paper.
The question paper was a difficult one and I comprehended, many of my classmates were going to be flunked. So I closed my pen and started looking at the people and every other small and big thing of the hall curiously as I felt that there was nothing wrong to join in the failures list for such a respectable reason. Those moments were like you know the brakes of your car weren’t working, and you realize you couldn’t do anything, so you just close your eyes and relax, leaving things to happen the way as they wish, when you know you had already lost control of those. I just closed my eyes and relaxed in the same way. Fifteen minutes passed by, I was certainly cool. A minute later the newly joined girl dragged her wooden fountain pen towards me and signaled me to start writing. I expressed my gratitude of choking happiness with my smile and I began writing. The pen was smooth to write. After I finished a page, I couldn’t believe, was my handwriting so elegant! My desired heart started to love that pen and wished to own it. I always had craze for pens. I would fight with my parents and remain adamant without eating for one night to get new pens very often. Perhaps, this pen attracted me more than any other pen I had.
In the afternoon, after the lunch break, I was sitting along with a group of my friends, she came near me, and I was astonished. She asked me to give her pen back. Then I looked on to my pocket, it was there luckily. “I am sorry. I forgot to give,” I said this, smiled and gave the pen to her. She went without saying anything. After she went my friends mocked me, “Arey! What’s happening here? What is going on with you” one of my friend asked. “A fountain pen and a love story,” other replied. Many of my friends had told me earlier that she was much beautiful, I felt they were right.
After a month, our exam papers were corrected and given. In Physics, most got flunked, but I passed with border marks. Newly joined girl failed in the borders and so she asked my papers. I gave it to her and told her thanks because had she not given her pen then the scenario might been different. She smiled and said, “No sorry and no thanks and no mentioning of anything in between friends.” I smiled parting my lips wide open.
As days went, we started talking to each other more often, more frequent and more than necessary. Our sweetest mornings began with “Hi, good morning,” followed by “Where can we eat today?” in the awesome afternoons and ended up with caring, “Go home safely, see you tomorrow, bye” in the evening. She taught me how to sharpen a pencil and make a flower with its dust, and I taught her how to take imprint of the coins perfectly. In the meantime we just became thickest friends. She told me about many things, many stories behind every little thing she possessed. She had innumerable stories behind her wooden fountain pen and by the time partial stories of that pen got over, I was the one who wrote with it mostly. She would give the pen to me in the morning and wouldn’t forget to get it back in the evening, for she loved it that much.
On that day during the recess, I was walking near the cycle-stand. I saw a wooden pen in the ground. I took it. It was her pen. Cunningly, I decided to keep it by myself. I went to the class. She appeared so dull and her eyes too seemed to be watered by tears just some minutes before and I knew the reason. I went near her and told, “I have a gift for you,” and showed her fountain pen towards her. Immediately, she grabbed it away from my hands and told thanks again and again. I wondered was she the same girl who told me that there should be no thanks and sorry in between the friends. This incident increased the strength of our bond. I spoke with her, sat near her, played with her against my other friends’ agony and jealousy. Like this our school days went on.
It was my birthday. I gave much of the special chocolates to her. She was so pleased and told me, “You can ask any of my things, I will give it to you surely.”
Without any hesitation, I asked, “Give me your fountain pen then,”
Her face dulled, “Ask me anything other than it, you know I can’t give that to you and moreover my friends used to say when we give fountain pen to our friends, the friendship bond would be broken and they would separate.”
She as usual started saying stories about it, and then she gave me her pencil box instead of her wooden fountain pen. I didn’t force her to give her pen because I too was a little afraid of the story that friendship may eventually break when one gifts a pen to his/her friend.
It was the last day of our ninth standard. After we finished our examination, I met her in the canteen. I spat ink her on her dress and she tried the same but could not find a spot as it was already brimmed with ink stains. For some minutes, we talked about our upcoming tenth standard. Later, she asked me whether I would be studying in the same school. I told her yes. I asked her the same question.
She replied, “I won’t go anywhere I will study in this same school up to my twelfth standard provided the teachers here don’t flunk me very often.” I laughed and felt so relieved, then we both were about to depart. Suddenly she called my name and gave me her wooden fountain pen and asked me to keep it safely. I felt so much happy. I hugged her and told how much happy I was. Then we both said good-bye with a hope to meet each other after the two months of summer holidays. Her father’s car arrived and she went.
After that, we, boys, kept a cycle race in between us in the school road. We rushed our cycles as fast as we could. I came third in the race. Then we all went to our home chirpily. I excitedly looked on my pocket for her wooden fountain pen. I didn’t find it there. I searched in my bag. It wasn’t there too. I went in the same road in my cycle and searched for the pen, I didn’t find it anywhere. It made me to cry. Earlier I had lost many of the costliest pens and many other costliest things but I have never cried or even cared for it. But losing this pen caused me a great sadness and regret within me that I couldn’t console. I felt sad day after days. I felt missing it. It wasn’t merely her gift. It was her legacy and my promise too – a legacy she gave to me to keep safe and my promise that I would keep it safe – but now my promise is broken and her legacy was lost. I wanted to say to her that I missed her dad’s first bought pen, and get apologised from her. I couldn’t forgive myself for my carelessness when I felt how much that pen meant to her and how much she was attached to it. I believed I would forgive myself only if I was forgiven by her. All of a sudden I wanted to meet her and tell how much hurt I was by losing her pen. I felt missing her so much for I knew if she were my near she would have consoled me. I begged to God to end my vacations soon. Luckily the two months’ vacation passed soon. I hoped to bring that non-stop talking sunshine back into my miserable dark rooms of heart.
I went to my school in the earliest and eagerly waited for her arrival. She didn’t come for a long time. I waited and panicked. She didn’t come for the whole day. I was much worried, thinking what was wrong with her. I asked many of my friends none knew about it. She didn’t come for the whole week. I asked about her to everyone who was acquainted to her. None knew where she was and what happened to her. This made me to feel weak about myself and I ended up in principal room to inquire the details about her. They didn’t have any idea of her. I went in her school bus and asked a girl, who was near her home. She told me that her father’s finance company was attacked by people and the whole family fled to an unknown place after this happened.
That’s the end of the fountain pen and love story.
I studied in the same school up to my twelfth standard, she didn’t come thereafter. I used go to the places where we used to share our stories and thought about her, sometimes feeling sad and sometimes smiling. I missed her so much. I couldn’t believe that she was gone and I couldn’t hope that I would meet her. Many a times, I used to wonder whether she too missed me like I did. Many a times I would be confused asking myself, “Is this feeling love?” I never got an answer and I knew I would never get one.
Years passed. Presently I am in a book store to buy the first fountain pen for my daughter, Madhuri. I know how much it means to a girl, especially to a daddy’s girl. My daughter pointed out to a costliest Parker pen and asked me to buy it for her. Suddenly my eyes captured a wooden pen that is similar to the fountain pen the girl on my school days gave me. I brought it for me and brought the costliest Parker for Madhuri. The shop keeper filled ink in both the pens and gave me to check them. I took the wooden pen and wrote the name, “Madhuri”. The first name, I write whenever I buy a pen, the name of the girl – who stayed in my life for a short time during my school days but took a permanent place in my heart. Her name it is.