There are some people one never forgets.
Penakkaran is one of them.
Again, I don’t remember his name.
I don’t think he ever told me his name.
He had a tiny pen repair shop by the side of GS street in Kottayam. A small box like, windowless shop.
He lived in Cochin and travelled by train each day to Kottayam. Most evenings I would see him walking back to the railway station to catch the venadu express.
He always wore blue shirts and carried a briefcase in his hand.
We shared a very unique friendship!
I was a calamity Jane! (still am, but will deny it vehemently!!!!)
and that simply meant I had the absolute knack to drop my fountain pen and break the nib on a regular basis.
If Amma knew I broke the nib, I would get thrashed. So I could never tell her.
Instead, I go to his shop straight from school and to get the nib replaced.
I think he somehow understood that I don’t have much money and that if he didn’t repair my pen, Amma would skin me alive.
He always repaired my pen, charging me very little money. Sometimes on credit too!
When he hands the pen to me he always said the same thing.
“I think I should start buying nibs in bulk for you”
He never once scolded me for breaking the nib.
He never criticized.
He just fixed the pen.
I knew I could count on him.
Then I grew up.
Started using those horrible Reynolds ball point pens. (Appa used to bring box full of those blue and white pens, I hated the fine nib on those pens. I spend a better part of my teenage years trying to get rid of those pens, so I could buy a new decent pen. But was never successful. If it wasn’t Appa, one of the Gulf cousins would gift us a box of Reynolds pens!.)
One day he stopped coming to Kottayam.
I heard from Amma that the shop was no longer making enough money for him to travel all the way from Cochin to Kottayam.
I never told the penakkaran thank you.