Blue-Black, Mother Teresa and Sulekha Inks
Blue-Black ink, Sulekha’s pride, relaunched as a sacramental.
She took the final vows as a Nun and became Mother Teresa in 1937. Sulekha was then a toddler, being manufactured from home by the ladies of the Maitra family in Rajshahi, now in Bangladesh. Nani Gopal, the younger of the two Maitra brothers, was busy perfecting the ink making process, while the elder brother Sankaracharya was selling the home-made Swadeshi inks door to door, covering unthinkable distances on his bicycle.
By the time the Mother founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta in 1950, Sulekha was in the city though. Freedom had been wrested from an Empire on which the sun never set, and though the price at which the freedom had come was a very steep one in terms of human sacrifices, the air was rife with optimism, with hope.
The Mother had continued to dedicate her life for the wellbeing of the wretched and the downtrodden, while Sulekha had stuck to its mission of making inks for the young Nation, trudging on the sworn path of Gandhian beliefs, towards self-reliance.
The Mother had started working with the lepers in 1957 and the Pope conferred upon her the Peace Prize in 1971. It was during these intervening years that Sulekha had perfected its Blue-Black ink which would one day be synonymous with its name, just like the Mother would go on to represent all that is good in the human heart.
There were other common threads as well – a passionate love for the city, her people and a selfless desire to reach out to those in need, touching lives to transform, to heal. In those post partition days, in a newly born Nation that was laid waste by centuries of colonial exploitation. It wasn’t easy, which was made worse by the sudden influx of refugees during the Pakistan war, accompanied by rising socio-economic and political woes. The Mother, the apostle of all that is good, had continued waging her relentless war against the elements. Sulekha had continued through the decades often surpassing itself – some say going to the extent of hypothecating its future – to do the little that it could as a responsible corporate citizen, long before the term was even coined.
The Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and the Bharat Ratna in the following year had acknowledged the service of the Saint of the Gutters, for by then, she had already curved her name in a million compassionate hearts around the world. It wasn’t long after that Sulekha was also honoured, by the United Nations, when in 1982 it was selected to set up two of the first ink factories in the continent of Africa.
The Mother has since left us, her children, for her abode in the clouds. Sulekha, after many decades, is waging an epic battle to come back from dark despair, and it is but natural that it would seek to do so by dedicating the most precious fruit of its labour of love – the Blue-Black ink to the City’s guiding spirit of compassion.
Sulekha’s blue black is incidentally, more water resistant than many so-called permanent inks, certainly beyond comparison in the price bracket in which it is offered. It will also not be out of place to mention here that such water resistance is despite the fact that all Sulekha inks are made using natural ingredients and have been fountain pen safe since their inception.
“Sulekha has always stood for a lot more than being a mere brand” said Kaushik Maitra, the Managing Director, the man behind Sulekha’s eye-popping turnaround story. “We feel humbled, as children of this great city, as we pay our respects to someone who is bigger than it all, someone whose blessings are our constant companion”.
May a million pens write your word of love, compassion and selfless service.
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