I came upon a strange pen recently during one of my excursions to a local pen dealer: an old pen of undefined origin, about which the seller didn’t know much. He kept saying that it was a Plato. I know that Plato was manufactured by Mumbai’s Mhatre Pen and Plastics Co. The seller tried to show me the name Plato with the help of his magnifying glass, but he couldn’t find it anywhere. I bought it anyways because the pen had a lever to fill up ink, a technology discarded long ago. It was clearly an old model, and I didn’t want to miss it.


Cumus or Plato, a pen with a lever to fill up ink.
What is Cumus? Is it Plato? It is an unidentified pen with a lever to fill up ink.

After I reached home, I gave the pen a close look and discovered a vague name embossed on it: ‘CUMUS’. Funny. I didn’t know about any such brand, and Google too didn’t. I couldn’t figure out the nationality of the pen either. No mention of ‘Made in Limboland’ anywhere. You can see the name for yourself.

Mhatre Pen and Plastic's Plato?

The lever was working perfectly, as I could easily fill it up with Sheaffer Skrips, Red. I checked the mechanism well by filling it up and emptying it more than once. Besides, the pen wrote surprisingly well for an old machine. The ink didn’t skip and the nib gave a pleasant feedback, while giving fine lines. By the way, the nib said Iridium Point Fine, a standard inscription on most nibs used in India. I suspect this to be an Indian pen, because the Western ones love to mention where they have come form.

Zadie Smith doesn’t advise us; she warns us here,

“Don’t romanticise your vocation. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no ‘writer’s lifestyle’. All that matters is what you leave on the page.”

Smith cautions that the pretentious writerly life of boozing, smoking and indulging in literary gossips won’t make us writers. We are writers if we write.  Often, the literary lifestyle dominates so much that actual literary production becomes secondary; work suffers and a blank page yawns at you at the end of the day.