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The Lost Old School Art Of Writing Love Letters And Postcards

This is the thing about thoughtful gifts – there is a significant meaning attached to them, that makes them as precious and priceless as a family heirloom.

We had just returned from our honeymoon, and I was trying to find space in my husband’s cupboard. As much room as I had in his heart, it was not enough for a new bride’s trousseau with all the bestowing from our wedding. In the process, I stumbled upon a neatly compiled stack of colorful postcards from places ranging from Vizag to Velling.

I couldn’t control my excitement at finding something so out of vogue and old school; something that our generation had only heard of in Hollywood romantic comedies.

Before curiosity could kill the cat, I urged my husband to let it out of the bag. To my surprise, he revealed that these postcards were sent to him, and to hundreds of his friends from another well-traveled friend.

I loved thoughtful gifts that held deep meaning

I had once written him a letter in self-made invisible ink, that could be read only after being warmed over the fire. So he knew my love for all things old school and had saved all these postcards as a housewarming gift to me.

The rarity of these postcards made them a valuable collectible in my possession. I was immensely delighted to receive them, even though they were addressed to my husband.

This is the thing about thoughtful gifts – there is a significant meaning attached to them, that makes them as precious and priceless as a family heirloom. Everyone who receives them experiences this joy.

A letter pad from my father was the first thoughtful gift I’d ever received

I recalled the time when I was in 5th Standard, and my best friend was moving out of town. I had asked my father to bring a parting gift for her. He bought two letter pads and ink pens.

I disapproved of my father’s idea of such a gift at the age of 10. But now, I remember it with as much fondness as a refreshing summer breeze laden with the smell of newly blossoming flowers. Every page of that letterhead pad was watermarked with the image of two red roses lying on a blank, white sheet, beside which an ink pot held a dipping quill.

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He had put in a lot of thought when he bought us the letter pad. A souvenir would have taken the course of being shelved, discarded, and forgotten in due course of time. Along with it, our childhood memories of friendship would have gone buried beneath the years of dust. The letter pad, however, was meant to let our bond grow.

It was revived years later, bearing love letters to my husband

At that age, both of us couldn’t appreciate the thoughts my father had put in, and inevitably lost touch with each other. But my father preserved the letter pad.

Ten years later, I found myself in need of such a letter pad when my husband joined the National Defence Academy. The only way we could have remained in contact was through letters.

I searched the markets like a fanatic for an appropriate sheet of paper to express how I felt. Apparently, people no longer delved pens into their hearts to scribble out its contents on a love letter, etching a sweet secret onto it. The tears that brim over with overwhelming emotions of love, would drip on the love letter. It would have been securely knotted inside the laces of an exchanged handkerchief (to be kept hidden though before anything goes official). It could give dreams to the tired eyes at the fall of the night, and would be neatly folded to avoid any ripping owing to its re-reading.

Eventually, my father’s long-kept gift came to our aid, and in the weary hours of my husband’s worst nightmares, they became our solace.

Meaningful gifts like postcards are an eternal source of joy

I feel that letter pads lost their market long before telegrams (not the app) went out of print, with postcards following the lead. The current trend is to register for gifts or to anticipate and gift what the recipient would find useful.

However, in the vogue of gifting something useful, the art of gifting something meaningful died a painful death, by asphyxiation under a pile of materialism.

After all, emotions are like the softest imprints left on a crumpled bed sheet, almost always escaping the eye of the housekeeper, who thinks a quick wash and iron will help the orderly presentation of the room. However, in this process of tidying things, those imprints are forgotten; those fragrances are never smelled again; a cherishing memory could have been lost in the mundane.

So, on this International Letter Writing Day that falls on the 1st of September each year, I want to call out to everyone to revive old-school letter writing as a thing of beauty and everlasting joy forever.

Image courtesy: a still from the movie Sita Ramam

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About the Author

Dr. Nishtha Mishra

Dr. Nishtha Mishra is an internationally published author. She is a Doctorate in English Literature from one of the reputed Central Universities. She has been an all round topper and has 5 gold medals to read more...

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