The 'Wality 69', from an outlet in Broadway, was the DMK leader's constant companion, both in and out of office. One of the first things that DMK leader Karunanidhi used to look for every morning for many years was a thick, dark-colored fountain pen. Since the days of founding Murasoli in 1942, the pen has always been his all-weather companion, both in and out of public office.
Even during his dramatic arrest in the middle of the night from his residence on June 30, 2001, his pen was sitting tight in his shirt pocket, while the police were dragging him out. Karunanidhi's pen has always been his proud possession, reports Hindu.
Those who know him well say it was from Gem & Co on Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Road in Chennai that Karunanidhi had been purchasing his favorite pen - 'Wality 69' - for long. A party functionary posted at the DMK headquarters, 'Anna Arivalayam', fondly recalls how he would go all the way to Broadway to get this pen for his Thalaivar. "For long, this thick one has been his favorite pen. When he became the Chief Minister for the first time in 1969, we were told that the Secretariat staff would get this pen for him," he says.
Pratap Kumar, the third-generation proprietor of Gem & Co, is proud of the association. "Every now and then, people come and ask for Mu. Ka.'s (as Karunanidhi is known) favorite pen!" he says.
Senior journalist S Ramaswamy, formerly with the Press Trust of India (PTI), recalls having been told by Karunanidhi himself how much he loved to write with his fountain pen. "Kalaignar always chose to write with the fountain pen early in the morning. Perhaps, his thoughts would naturally flow with a fresh mind," he says.
By the time he would finish his articles and respond to letters from cadre, his personal secretary Shanmuganathan would come (by 6 am) for typing them. His salutation to the cadre as Udanpirappe! (Brethren) and his initials 'Mu. Ka' in Tamil at the end of his letters stood testimony to his love for writing letters, recalls DMK spokesperson K S Radhakrishnan.
He was known to write with clarity, and his script would be neat, without any rewriting or overwriting.
Initially, he signed off with his full name Mu. Karunanidhi in Tamil at the bottom of his letters, but later, he chose to ink only his initials.
The five-time Chief Minister accepted the Script Reform Committee's recommendations for simplified Tamil alphabets in the 1970s and replaced his consonant-vowel combination 'Na' in his name with the recommended 'Na'. Some of his admirers even claim that the ebb and rise in his signature resembled the south Indian peninsula.
He wrote his name as M Karunanidhi until the 1940s, before switching to Mu Karunanidhi. While it's known widely that he always chose black over other ink, only few people know he has drawn cartoons too, for Murasoli.
"I still remember how he rushed Vaiko (then V Gopalasamy) to Madras (as Chennai was called then) with his cartoon, to be published the following morning during the campaign for the Tirunelveli bypoll," says Radhakrishnan.A man of letters, who usually took very little time to pen articles and scripts, took quite some time to pen the historical novel Ponnar Sankar.
He asked party leader Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan for specific materials, as he wanted to understand the Kongu region better. But another literary work, Tholkaappiya Poonga, did not take much time to complete.
It was Karunanidhi who introduced among politicians the concept of publishing Q&A to explain one's stand on an issue. The Karikaalan Bathilgal (answers from Karikaalan) column in Murasoli, under his pen name Karikaalan, contained a selection of questions sent by his cadre. Later, he chose to include his own questions and answered them.
Although an old-fashioned man when it came to pens, he took to ball-point pens in his later years, as it was difficult for him to hold a thick pen.He even tried to learn typing on a computer during the 1990s but did not make much progress.
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