I must admit upfront that I am privileged, as way before the Pentales had taken its current shape, I had had the pleasure of going through the draft. I have also had the pleasure of seeing (and knowing) most of the pens – “old knaves” as Suvobrata Ganguly calls them – whose stories feature in the Pentales. Oh, by the way, another thing, in case you don’t already know it – Suvobrata Ganguly makes it a point mostly to write about the pens that he owns, be it in his blogs or as in this case, the Pentales, which adds another dimension to the book, and to the way I relate to it. And yes, the raconteur, never ceases to talk about fountain pens, making listeners as mesmerised about their tales as he himself is.
A book of short stories where the principal protagonists are all fountain pens, is indeed a novel concept. I for one, don’t know about any book that has approached the art of story telling from such an angle. In fact, a cursory search in the world wide web did not reveal any such thing either. That is news enough to spread cheer among us fountain pen lovers in general and people like me in particular, who have been converted into fountain pen and ink fanatics by Suvobrata Ganguly, our beloved Chawm Sir.
The Pentales is a unique book, not merely because of the stories that it tells. Not because of the way the stories have been told in the typically idiosyncratic style of the author, it is. What makes the Pentales stand head and shoulders above its contemporaries, I feel, is what the book represents – a bold effort aimed at focussing the limelight back on the fountain pens and ink. It is a tribute to a genre as it were, and for that alone, Suvobrata Ganguly’s effort has been worth its while. Yes, the fact that I actually liked the stories, is by comparison, small change, perhaps predictably so.
In this pandemic infested world of digital overwhelm, the importance of fountain pens cannot be over emphasised. It is now more or less accepted that the fountain pen continues to offer the most sustainable writing option – one that just cannot be compared to the use-and-throw dot and ball pens that are slowly choking not only our drainage and riverine systems, but are also dangerously polluting our waterbodies and the ocean floors. The art of writing with a fountain pen is also the best lesson we can impart to our young ones, for they lead to better retention of knowledge, apart from ensuring a more efficient mind-body coordination. Besides, for a generation that needs to be digitally detoxified before it is too late, the fountain pen can offer the most potent tool, succour if you may, so that a new, intellectually creative and stimulating dawn can break, and help cope with the despair of depression.
It is in this context that the Pentales has to be seen. From the little that I know Suvobrata Ganguly, I can see just how single-minded he is in his devotion to ensure that the fountain pen and inks are provided the vaunted pole position that they deserve. And as has been his hallmark, this book is not a stand-alone effort towards personal aggrandisement, but a small step towards a greater goal of storming the citadel to re-establish the rule of, what many like us feel, a just inked monarch.
He writes his blog pieces on fountain pens, inks and the arts of lettering, writing and calligraphy with ceaseless abandon. He is helping some marquee India made fountain pens, inks and accessories brands curve out a distinct niche for themselves in the extremely quality conscious (not to mention price competitive) markets in the west. He is fighting a lone battle (against insurmountable odds dare I add) to help Swadeshi brand Sulekha win back its glory after a forced hiatus of three decades. He is also working as a catalyst that is touching to transform the fountain pen communities across the globe – bringing members of the fraternity from the subcontinent together in an effort that has not been tried in the past for the sheerly audacious complexities involved. And all the while, he is adding more pens to his collection, bought with hard earned money, that he studies about and shares his knowledge with the readers, illustrated with photographs that are as characteristically Caravaggio-isque, as with his words, which are typically (read delightfully) subtle in their devastation.
Pentales by Suvobrata Ganguly. This is not just a book of short stories about fountain pens. It is the manifesto for a revolution in the making. If you want to stand up and get counted, catch hold of your copy and for heaven’s sake, ink up.
The book is available in Stall #413 of the Calcutta Book Fair. If you want, you can also place your order with the publishers : http://www.kathopakathan.com/
Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhL5h-S5TNY&t=84s