Anyone remembers the li’l red box found in the corner of some streets? It was called a postbox, I think! One wrote a letter addressed to “My dear whoever, ” put it in an envelope, stuck a stamp on it and popped it into the postbox. Then, the ‘men in brown’ (they were called postmen, I think) took over, making sure the letter reached ‘your dear whoever’.
Ah!! Letter writing! A dying art – if not already dead!
Ask any of the younger generation today if he/she has ever written one, and watch as they give you an amazed look “Write a letter!! Duh, why would anyone want to do that!?”
But apparently there still are a few who would want to do that, and to revive the art and to encourage others, Dec 7th has been set aside as World Letter Writing day. *
Needless to say, I loved writing letters right from my school days, and receiving them as well of course. Just as William Wordsworth’s heart leapt up when he beheld a rainbow in the sky; so did mine when I beheld a letter addressed to me! 🙂 And I would then leap up to find pen and paper and dash off a reply forthwith.
The art of good letter-writing must have been important back then, as we were actually taught how to in school. We had two 40 minute sessions each week, set aside to learn how to write formal and informal letters. Our informal letters would generally begin with, “My Dear So & So, I hope this letter finds you in the pink of health, as it finds us here.…..” And formal letters – well, we had to get straight to the point, not enquire about the colour of anyone’s health and we were to mind our Ps and Qs. And anyone who didn’t follow these strict injunctions, lost 8 marks out of their total in the English exam! 😦
Some time back I received a letter from my nephew in the States. Yes! An actual hand written letter! Written with a pen on actual paper! It came in an envelope! With stamps and everything! As I looked at the neatly written “To and From” addresses on the envelope, a wave of warm nostalgia swept over me, for those letter-writing days of yore.
It used to be such an experience – waiting for the postman as he went on his beat. Such fun too, to see who got what and from whom. And then, the glorious climax of opening one’s missive and reading it – first the quick once-over followed by a more relaxed and focused read. And finally the pleasure of writing out one’s own letter in reply! Today, back in my home town, the postman still comes knocking – but other than the telephone bill or the odd promotional brochures, nothing else hits the doormat.
When we moved to the Gulf 20 years ago, initially I did write quite often to my parents and the siblings. But sadly, that’s a thing of the long gone past with quicker (and let’s admit it) more reliable means at our finger tips now.
The Telegram too has already become a relic. The fastest means of sending short, urgent messages in India since 1850, the telegram breathed its last in the summer of 2013 – mourned only by a few old-timers. Although I never personally used its services, I had a bit of a soft corner for it ever since a close family friend telegrammed us my Xth Board exam result. “Radhika passes with 1st Class” it crisply informed us as we vacationed in my dad’s village home.
I wonder if the last telegram read – SAD NEWS STOP TELEGRAM PASSES AWAY STOP. 😦
While advancement of Science has prolonged human life, let’s hope too much advancement of technology does not kill the art of communicating with each other through letters.
My dear Readers, I hope and pray that Letter-Writing stays alive and kicking and in the pink of its health for years to come. Cheers, Your’s affectionately…… 🙂
*Sep 1st is also observed in some parts as World Letter-writing Day.