What is a pen? Spare a thought for this writing instrument and you will realise that there is a lot more to the small device. Three things determine the personality of a person: whether his shoes are polished, whether his wrist watch keeps the correct time and whether he carries a pen that is in proper working order.
However, in the current context, substitute the latter two as Rolex and Mont Blanc and add an iphone or an ipad to the list!
I go down memory lane to my childhood when we used plastic pens equipped with piston system for filling ink. These, however, came with problems of leakage, of ink not flowing properly or a nib breaking too often. Therefore, we would spend good half an hour doctoring the pens, i.e., cleaning and replacing broken parts before setting down to do our homework. Blue ink marks on white school shirts were like badges of honour. Then there were the infrequent but unpleasant episodes of ink bottles toppling over painstakingly done homework, or if you were unlucky, over an examination paper!
Then came a time when ball pens made their appearance in a big way. The humble 'Bic' (imported!) used to be a prized possession. These ball pens were convenient and cheap but their use was prohibited for schoolchildren as they were 'not good for handwriting'. The ink pens have made a comeback but the modern version uses ink catridges. The gel pens offer the best compromise between an ink pen and a ball pen.
I don't understand, why despite so many advertisements to tempt people and celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan urging you to buy a pen, why so many people still fail to own one. Whenever you visit a bank or a post office there are people who want to borrow your pen and invariably pocket it after using. I patronise a particular international brand but always carry a few cheap ones for lending to others.
I can excuse anyone but teachers for not carrying a pen. A teacher borrowing a pen is akin to a soldier borrowing a weapon! I have also encountered an immaculately dressed woman who dug her manicured, bejewelled hand into her designer handbag and fished out a cheap ball pen without a cap and to top it all, it refused to write!
A pen truly reflects your personality. You need not carry an expensive designer variety but it must write well because you never know what is coming your way. Agreed, today's smart phones help you record important contacts or click pictures of hit-and-run drivers but still they do not fully replace a pen.
Imagine your plane has been hijacked or a shipwreck leaves you on a lonely island where your smart phone does not capture any signals; in such a situation you can't even write a diary without a pen! What do people do with the bright ideas they may get at odd places like in a traffic jam, without a handy pen? It is such a shame to let brainwaves go waste! The pen, they say, is mightier than sword, so why not arm yourself?