Its the year 2090. A little girl is perusing the family data base looking for some hidden treasures, when she falls upon an antique wooden box. Taking it to be a remenant of her great grand birthing device’s past, she carefully opens it.
To her utter surprise, the box contained thin finely pressed sheets of some kind, yellowing on the edges, with markings, loops, dots and dashes.
Scanning the visuals from her retinal projections, the Google A&H – software of Antiquities and History (which she downloaded in her system 0.2 nano seconds ago) tells her that the object placed in her movement facilitating limbs is a “Letter”.
A piece of paper carrying a message.
-A form of written communication.
-An ancient form of social networking. Where people physically took the effort of writing to one another.
“Dear Fiona, I was surprised to receive a letter from you at this time of year.”
A new world had opened to her.
This is how I imagine the future would be like.(It may seem slightly over the top but not impossible entirely.)
The beautiful art of letter writing is dying. And this makes my heart ache.
My grandmother and grandfather eloped and got married, everything was planned and fixed through letters.
A few decades later my father met my mother at a wedding. For the next 5 years the two got to know each other, through letters, shared their dreams and aspirations. It is through letters that these two humans,miles away from one another fell in love.
When my father was out of town for work he would send greeting cards or postcards where one side was addressed to my mother and the other to me. I couldn’t even read then,but the whole idea of addressing his infant daughter to take care of her mumma and to sleep on time etc was such a sweet gesture. (Such things make my father the awesome person that he is.)
But now the whole idea of letter writing seems ancient. Sure school curriculums still force one to learn the format for grammar and grades, but metropolitan students never really get to write a real letter.
The power of words is limitless. It is amazing how a few alphabets, strung together can actually make someone’s world, or even break it.
And when written down, in the form of a letter, they seem even more profound and ever lasting.
I can imagine the anxiousness with which a lover may wait for a reply, a parent for their child’s college results or the excitement for a sibbling about their sister’s camping stories. The patience with which one would go through their days waiting for the moment the post man arrives.
I am not saying that one should move backwards. I am a thorough supporter of progress. Had technology not been there for instance, I wouldn’t be able to share my thoughts with such a large and varied audience. Even then, I believe that there needs to be some kind of balance in life.
That way, living in India makes all the difference. In comparison to the “modern” west, time gets preserved her. Traditions are very important in our society. (Not justifying all kinds of traditions, but some of them seem worth saving)
The metro politan youth may not have the need, but millions of people here still write letters.
I personally have access to the internet, to mobile networking and can thankfully stay connected with my family and friends. Still on a few important occasions, like birthdays, my parents anniversary, festivals like Rakshabandhan etc when I am not physically present with them, I send a letter.
The whole process is magical.
Buying stationery, sitting down and writing your thoughts.
I love taking my time and using fountain pens for this, the way the letters slowly dry up, the sheen of the ink, I could gaze at it forever. Feels like poetry in action.
People my age think I am crazy, but my family is supportive of my obsessions and loves to write back!
Hence we have two channels of communication. The special things and non urgent things go in the letters. While the day to day happenings are communicated through the modern conventional means. I wish I had more people to write letters to.
My mother has an uncle, who for the past 45 years without fail, has always written letters to her, for important life events new year’s, birthdays and anniversaries. In those 45 years my mother grew up, finished college, got married had children, who graduated etc. And despite the fact that we get transferred all across the country, his letters always find us. This seems like a beautiful gesture to me.
Not completely obsolete yet, but letter writing is a dying artform. People today don’t seem to appreciate the whole process. There is a particular way in which one articulates their thoughts. (Except the ocassional angry ones) letter writing needs to have Lehza (proper procedure) and Tehzeeb (respect).These are unwritten rules but they make all the difference.
I wish people continue to write.
I hope my great grand daughter, whoever and wherever she will be, would find this old art form, be fascinated by it and try keeping it alive.
What do you think? Do you like the idea of writing letters? Any anecodotes you may want to share are most welcome. 🙂