A letter for thought
It was one of those scorching, comatose afternoons in the little house in Hyderabad. I, as an eleven year old, anxiously awaited the portly post-man to deliver my letters, constantly eyeing the steel letter box. It was worth a wait and a feet-burning run down the stone pavement to grab the envelopes doled out by different hands and enclosed vividly in their own sweet way. There was one from Shari; the typical pink colors with drawings and stickers screaming “Miss you”. A tiny envelope from Anu, subtly yellow and mellowed “Missing you”, much like herself. A card from Karan, penned with his artistic writing and child-like words –“surprise inside. Open soon”. I hurried to unwrap the letters, smiling with unalleviated joy, to hear from my pals in a far away land (Trivandrum!!); waiting to give up my evening hours of play to write about my past week and reassure them that they would always be my bestest friends, signing off with “Reply soooooooooooooooooooooooon”s… Letters were my tickets to the fairy-land where I dwelled with pals; I had made for a life-time to come.
Looking back at the life that sans e-mails, sans messengers or orkut, sans mobile phones, sans every complex obscurity meant to ‘stay in touch’ and yet never to do so; I am amazed at the gratifying bliss, I shared, receiving a letter and putting all my love into its reply and living up to the promises made, signing autograph books with ‘Keep in touch’ or ‘roses are red and violets are blue, friends like u are very few’!
My tryst with letters had been persistent since the life in Patna, when I would be longingly given quarter sides of the blue inlands to stamp a few words to thatha (grandpa); write about a little poem I learnt or the new mathematics quiz score I secured as his proud grandchild or the latest Enid Blyton novel I enjoyed. Later this had turned into an enduring habit to write comprehensive letters to chums who I would dolorously leave behind, when I moved with appa’s transfers to a new school, a new city, a new circle of friends.
I still have the two brown boxes full of variegated letters, which have every emotion of a life bygone safely preserved in senile paper and soft ink. As I dig the countless envelopes, they travel from the postcard of my best friend’s five year old hand to the letter I received when I was eighteen. Emanating from them all, is the forgotten laughter and slight tears we shared as friends, as schoolmates, as luncheons-ers of others’ Tiffin boxes, as night-out group study partiers, as secret-keepers, as inseparable ‘Best Friends’ who pledged on the farewell day, only to realize in a few years that the very word ‘stay in touch’ had innumerous repercussions, one fails to anticipate.
I, at today, set alarms on the office outlook to remind me amidst work to call a friend on his birthday; make a mental note of all the phone calls I have to make on weekends, only to procrastinate the thought to the next weekend on the washed-out Sunday night; watch a friend come online, sweetly reminded by the yahoo messenger, only to prioritize a pending deadline and chat another time; midst hours of lolling on orkut pages, I decidedly leave a ‘Whats up?’ only to forget after a week that I did so when my friend responds; await a phone call on my birthday and expect to be scolded for being a lazy bum and never mail.
A wedding invitation, a solitary mail, a tri-monthly phone call, a yearly lunch, a new year wish has all that has become of a time when letters updated a weekly life. These rueful facets of life make me wonder if I have grown above everything in this world, may be even myself?!