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Talking to a stranger, telling them your thoughts, is intimacy of a different level which comes with the liberty to pull back whenever you want.
Writing a letter is an intimate act. When I was a little girl I used to write letters to my cousins after they moved to a different city. I was afraid they would forget me and I wanted to make sure they didn’t. So I wrote them letters and they would write me back.
I don’t remember how or when I stopped, possibly after mobile phones happened and it became easier to just call someone and talk than to write a letter and wait for days for a response. Sometimes the ease of convenience makes us forget the charm of efforts.
I did not write letters for a long time after that until last year I wrote one to one of my childhood friends. Not that we could not talk, we talk almost every day, but I wanted to do something special for her, to make her feel that she might be in a different city but she wasn’t lonely. And what better way to make her feel that way than the intimacy of a letter?
That one letter wasn’t the end of it though. I soon joined an online initiative where you sign up to write or receive letters. I always sign up to write a letter. There’s so much I wish to say but I don’t wish to say all of that to people who know me, people I interact with every day.
Talking to a stranger, telling them your thoughts, is intimacy of a different level which comes with the liberty to pull back whenever you want. These letters that I write to a new stranger have given me perspective about myself without the judgement of other person being visible to me. I can talk to these strangers about my trauma, or my obsession with books, or love, without the fear of having to see them roll their eyes at me, or feel pity, or bored.
Once I write a letter and hit the send button, I no longer hold any responsibility. It’s as if my words have just floated in the air and will fall down on earth bits by bits without me having to watch that happen. It’s therapeutic. It’s liberating.
These letter receivers, wonderful people, are my unwilling secret-keepers. There’s someone who knows what I was thinking at a certain point in time and they are going to keep it to themselves.
Sometimes I have received replies, all good things. Insisting that my letter helped them. That makes me feel good but that was never the point. It’s good to know that I helped someone, but this letter writing is purely because it helps me.
In a world that’s growing more and more cold and distant, to know that a stranger is within reach to listen to what I have to say is the best form of therapy.
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