It may seem strange and even ironic to you that I’m writing about the benefits of letter-writing through a blog. Well, in today’s world of fast-paced everything, even communication has acquired the speed of lightning. With facebook, Twitter and the ubiquitous Gmail, I can make my thoughts and opinions available to hundreds of people. I am able to keep in touch with a broad spectrum of friends. And these are path-breaking, amazing tools for communication, without which life would be impossible, or at the very least, tremendously inconvenient.
We spend hours clinging to a cell-phone or typing into keyboards, but shy away from giving a hug, a shoulder rub to our parents. Even when we say we’re ‘in touch’ or ‘in contact’ with hundreds and thousands of people, it is all through the barrier of computers and wires and binary code, which, in a way, act as shields from communicating through real touch and revealing our true selves – our vulnerabilities, our emotions, our fears, what really matters to us – even to people closest to us.
So, in order to bring back a little more simplicity and depth into my relationships… To have conversations beyond “Wassup? NM… U say”… And to say some things to certain people that I couldn’t over phone or IM, I started writing letters. And I started receiving letters, since some people actually replied, bless them. Then I got so passionate about letters I started writing even more, and currently I’ve committed myself to write one letter a day. What is the significance of letters in my life?
First of all, they take time. The Indian Postal System is like the tortoise from that old children’s tale. It is slow, but steady, and it always wins the race (that is, manages to deliver!). It makes you wait and wait, builds anticipation, finally culminating into the joy of finding a postman at the door with a letter for you! That moment of exhilaration and excitement of opening the long-awaited envelope, containing pages and pages with words inked just for you, is out of this world!
A friend of mine once remarked that any letter is a love-letter because letters are love made tangible. Anyone who takes time out to hand-write you a letter, put it in an envelope, stand in long queues at the post office just to send it to you is operating with love. The letter, then, encapsulates that very essence of a person’s love, sealed permanently in those words and folded neatly into an envelope.
Letters involve touch, they are physical pieces of paper! They are mostly handwritten, they showcase that person’s handwriting, which pen they used, what colour of ink, even spelling mistakes! I sent a letter to a friend in the U.S. once, and her reply was interesting! She said it was refreshing to see someone’s handwriting after a long time… since everything was electronic these days, she didn’t know how most people wrote and missed the feel of reading handwritten scripts.
And finally, letters are a way, like many others, undoubtedly, to seal within their pages a proof of your existence. That you really lived, once upon a time. That your hand moved across this page, tracing these words and constructing meaning. It is a small but significant way of immortalizing oneself in a tangible, relatable form.
My parents have hundreds of old letters kept in boxes somewhere. Most do. Ask any parent/grandparent – they will bring out yellowing papers, faded postcards and crumbling dry flowers, and talk about sepia-toned memories with a reminiscent glint in their eyes. Everybody has a story told through letters. Perhaps these days, such stories are lessening in number, but it’s never too late to start one anew. So bring out the stationery, switch the computer off for a while, and write a patra with prem.
Someone, somewhere, is waiting to receive it.
With love and positivity,