Of Holder and Zed Nib
Scripting the story of my innocence
NOSTALGIA BY Z.G.M
Time ticked on. It ticked on. It did not tick as softly as the Swiss made Roemer watch on the wrist of my father but as louder as the massive clocks with Roman numerals in the shop of watchmaker in our mohalla.
The watchmaker’s shop! That was just two hundred yards from my home was no less than a watch museum. Clocks of all sizes and shapes adorned its walls; some would be as lifeless as dead on the bier and some with oscillating pendulums as lively as football players on the ground of the Muslim Park. That in our childhood was remembered for soaring oratory of Quad-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and many other leaders of the sub-continent. It had been a venue of greatest political events and had also been witness to the passing of many important political resolutions during the peoples struggle against the feudal autocracy.
I don’t remember real name of the watchmaker. In fact I never even tried to know his real name and like all other children in our locality, I also knew him as ‘Meema-Khar’. He was not natural blonde but was known by this name for his myrtle dyed hair and clean shave. I, on way to my school often stopped at this shop and loved watching him with his watchmaker’s loupe repairing watches unmindful of bystanders like me. I would continue to stand outside his shop till poked by headmaster Jalal-u-Din with his stick. He lived in front of the shop. Or my ear pulled by class teacher Hakeem Sahib who also lived in a lane nearby and reminded that time was ticking and I was getting late to the school.
I had joined my kindergarten class in a tumultuous year. Perhaps a few months before the day that was counted as the ‘day of betrayal’ and observed as a ‘black day’ for decades by an important section of the people. Since my joining of kindergarten class a lot of time had ticked. Many years had elapsed and with every passing year disorderliness was getting louder and louder and of all these years 1958 was the most chaotic. Unmindful of the changes like doing away with the Kashmiri language from our curriculum, it were the gory incidents we witnessed on daily basis while going to school that stealthily were stealing our childhood innocence and bracing us for facing harsher realities of uncertainties. Many incidents passed on to the hinterland of our mind for taking a permanent place.
It was during these years, that we were preparing to bid adieu to host of our primary school teachers; the teachers I loved, the teachers I admired and the teachers that sent shiver down my spine. The idea of leaving primary department often made me feel happy. And besides joviality, somehow, I nursed a feeling of complacency that I will not have to parrot lessons from the theology books.
And it was during these years that we were slowly saying farewell to our first writing tools, the reed pens, clay ink and Mashaq, and getting ready for acquiring new writing weapons the farsi-kalam, dip nib, the holder, inkpot, ink tablets, the four- line -copy and Khushkhati-copy. The farsikalam was made same way with a knife as the local reed pen. It however, used to be softer in writing and as the name suggest was perhaps initially imported from Persia. It was best suited for learning Urdu cursive writing. As I remember today for me qualifying from reed pen to dip nip and pen holder was far more thrilling and exciting than graduating from my first NEC laptop to the latest generation i-pod. My first NEC laptop just two decade’s back was without a hard disc. It had two slots for inserting of diskettes one for loading program first Dos 4, then WS 4 and another for storing data. This generation of laptops is now as good a nostalgia as my childhood reed pen.
I do remember my excitement on buying first wooden penholder fitted with nib. It was yellow colored having on one side steel ‘nib-gripper’ that firmly gripped the nib even during writing on coarse papers. The wooden penholder was the cheapest it cost one or two annas and the cost of the nib that was popularly known as Paachinib cost one or two paisa. There were also some expensive penholders made from metal, bone, transparent stone and some hard plastic material. The wooden penholders and cheap dip nibs were sold by most of the grocers in our locality. However, the top book and stationary shop barely half a mile from home on the bank of river Jhelum near Zaina Kadal was known as Ghulam Ahmed Book Sellers and Stationers. He sold variety of inkpots, holders and nibs that included much sought after the Zed Nib. This nib compared to other nibs was expensive, it cost one anna and wrote bold. It was seen as best suited for writing Urdu pages and improving handwriting. Most of the students in our age group had a fancy for this nib. Making ink for writing with dip nib was as enjoyable as bringing shine on mashaq by consistently rubbing it with the bottom of an old bottle. One tablet of the ink would cost one paisa- I still remember K-brand ink tablet was considered the best. It would be finely pulverized, mixed with well measured water and put in small bottle. There were many types of glass inkpots some with two to three compartment for storing blue, red or black inks. I had special fancy for small brass inkpots that was mostly used by calligraphists in our locality. I had seen such inkpots being used by a peer sahib for writing taweez near our school. And graduating from penholder and zed nib was to fountain pen was yet another mile stone.
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Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 May 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 May 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 8 May 2011 00:00:00 IST
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