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The author pens a beautiful post, reminiscing the good old days of handwritten letters. Read on!
Come December and the air is filled with festivity and celebrations- Christmas and then New Year! I am suffused with nostalgia and remember the days when I would be excitedly waiting for greeting cards from my friends and dear ones. A whole table would be set aside to display all the cards received- some printed, some drawn and some hand painted. There would be hundreds of them and I would be thrilled. For months, I would view each one of them, read and re-read the handwritten messages before safely placing them in my box. Those were the pre-electronic days with no social media or e-mails.
Like in most houses, I too have fixed a post box on my front gate. However, most of the time it is empty or stacked with sundry advertisements. The other day, I was astonished to notice a white envelope. Evidently, I dashed to salvage it and find out the details. It had the postal stamps and was from a young niece of mine. I tore open the cover and was thrilled to find a very beautiful Christmas card. There was a message handwritten by the child in her innocent baby handwriting. O boy! was I not overjoyed. Of course a number of my friends and relatives had sent me pretty cards on the social media and via email. But, they were just visuals. This card was special as I could touch it, read it whenever I desired and then preserve it along with several letters of yesteryears.
Computers and Cell phones have made writing letters a passé. Email, SMS and messaging are fun, simple and fast. However, handwritten letters have their own singular charm. Although even I hardly write letters anymore now, there is one person to whom I have faithfully written several missives- my dearest mother! She was the one who had taught me ABC and also letter writing.
Apparently, when I was away from home for five solid years-three years in college and two years in the university, I was required to write at least once a week. As I am her only daughter, her anxiety was quite reasonable. Later when I worked in Madurai College, I had to repeat the obligation. After my marriage, mom’s concern increased and it was obligatory to satisfy her with at least one letter a week. Literally speaking, if I stitched all my letters written to mother dearest it could form an epistolary novel akin to Samuel Richardson’s novels-Clarissa and Pamela put together!
I remember the last time I wrote a letter was exactly five years ago, when mother dearest was alive. The letter was a routine affair with information about my well being and family. Most importantly, I had asked about her failing health. Sorrowfully, before she could reply she died due to heart attack. Later, I learnt that she had studied my letter numerous times and had placed them carefully under her pillow. In fact, she had preserved all my letters very cautiously in her safe vault. Whenever she missed me, she would read them and feel comforted. Of course, I too have conserved most of her letters and get misty each time I touch them and read them. It’s almost like her talking to me.
The pleasure of sending and receiving handwritten letters is exclusive and classic. During my child hood in the 1960s and 1970s, the Indian Postal system was the main source of communication. It may have been slow, (snail mail) however, the thrill of receiving letters was unique. A funny memory remains stamped in my mind. My father was a Railway officer and we lived in a spacious bungalow with rolling gardens surrounding it. The drive-way from the house to the gate was son long that it took about three to four minutes to cross it. Our postman would come twice a day, around ten in the morning and three in the afternoon. Every time he would knock at the gate, our pet dog Jackie would rush at him and bark. To avoid such unpleasantness, I would try to run faster than him but to no avail.
Local posts took days and sometimes even weeks to arrive. For foreign letters, you had to wait for at least a month. But, when they arrived the pleasure was boundless. Those were the days when we had pen friends and not twitter or FB or WhatsApp friends. So, I would eagerly wait for my foreign friends to reply to my letters.
Handwritten letters are priceless! We are sensuous people, we love to touch, hold, see and even smell the letters we read. Sometimes greetings cards are scented and this heightens the value. Alas, the modern electronic media has taken us away from our pens. Honestly, the only time I use my pen is for signature on cheques and bills.
Maybe, it is time we revived hand written letters and also sending greetings through post.
PS: The other day, a friend from Canada had requested for my postal address as he desires to send me New Year Card. I was surprised but am eagerly waiting for the post!
Image Source: Pexels
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