When was the last time you received a handwritten letter?
Till June, I did not remember my last time. But things changed when I received a letter from Natasha (http://natasha-pointstoponder.blogspot.in/) along with a gift for my birthday this year. She had recently shifted to a different city post-marriage. We often talk over phone, WhatsApp, etc. but a letter was so much different and it felt special too. Thanks a ton to Nats, for this amazing feeling. The letter was one of the highlights of my birthday this year. 🙂 I hope my reply letter brought her similar feelings.
Writing a letter is the only way to be both alone and with another person.
It was then that I realized that this form of communication had almost vanished from our lives; it has become a lost art in the museum of our memories. In the age of WhatsApp, BBM, emails, tweets, etc. letters seem to be a thing of the distant past. We have shifted to clicking the ‘send’ button in Facebook messages/ Gmail / Yahoomail, instead of dropping a letter in the postbox. And there’s always the phone. And because of these, we no longer seem to have the time to write down a personal letter to a loved one, I mean a snail mail letter with a pen and a piece of paper.
During my childhood, summer vacations always brought letters from friends, cousins and pen pals. On the last day of school, just before the summer/winter vacation began, we exchanged letters/notes with each other. We often decorated those notes/letters with colourful designs using colored pens and if available used other colourful stationery to make them even better. Letters to cousins at regular intervals, just to exchange any news or maybe exam results and sometimes about recent trips; letters to my maternal uncle who was posted in the hills of Karbi Anglong for his first job as a Vet, letters to Anai – Putha (my grandparents) every now & then asking about their health and giving them news of any interesting stuff, writing letters to Maa-Deuta (my parents) when I first came to a hostel – all of these are my memories of my letter writing days. And then there was a Pen-pal too. Yes, I had one. Just the very idea of communicating with a person I had never met, who is from a different place, a different culture, and comparing thoughts with him during the growing up years, was very exciting to me. We wrote to each other for a number of years and then lost contact as time passed by. Today as I am writing this post, I try hard to remember who had written the last letter between the two of us, but I fail to remember.
One fine day, when my parents got a telephone connection, the new thrill was talking to my best friend & other friends too, every few hours about how many pages of homework I had completed, and the latest songs we heard, etc. It was again the more available, more convenient option to communicate. Why waste time writing letters, and waiting for days to receive a reply, when I can just pick up the phone and talk? This was one of the reasons why letters faded away from my life. And I didn’t even feel their absence…..until Natasha’s letter reached me. I then remembered how the arrival of a handwritten letter brought the feeling of special-ness with it, because it is then we realize that the sender had taken out some time to put pen to paper and make the message more special. And it brought back the wonderful memories of my innocent childhood.
People say technology, or for that matter, electronic media brings people closer, but the irony is that with the advent of the most advanced technology we wind up more separate & distant from each other. I often hear my parents complain that these days, people have the latest gadgets to communicate with each other but seldom have the time to do so. Only a few people these days call each other just to ask how he/she is doing.
I know we are trying to go green & paperless but isn’t it equally important that we invest time in memories & relationships too? We should realize that a delete button or crashed computer can never make them go away. So, even if it is once in a while, a handwritten letter to a friend or a family member we haven’t heard for quite a while might renew a friendship or ignite old flames of kinship, who knows…..
And so, today I have written a letter to my parents and another to my sister & niece (who is only 9 month old) to let them know that they are the special people of my life. I hope they feel special & experience similar joy as I did. 🙂