As I was struggling to fill up a bank deposit slip for my nana, he pointed out to my sloppy writing. “Who writes these days?” I sheepishly defended myself. “Well, you should as you did earlier in your beautiful cursive handwriting”, said my nana softly. When we returned home, he opened a wooden box which had neatly stacked papers. He took out a brown envelope and scooped out few pages. I froze. They were my letters written to him. We sat together, read the letters and recollected those special memories. He read me his favorite parts from few letters- embarrassing school incidents, stupid complaints of my mother, pranks at school and ofcourse my class grades. Really?? I wrote all that to him?? I am glad that I did, because now I experienced each incident in my life twice: once when it actually happened, and once again when we read them.
Back then, when internet was not heard of, one of the most cheapest way of communication was letters. I remember writing letters to my family and friends, and kissing the envelopes before I put them in the mailbox hoping that they are not lost in transit.
Letters are like timeless little snowflakes of love being send to the people we love. Words are wrapped with love for whoever reads it and it builds a special bond which could be treasured forever and indeed are our conversations with the future. They are like journals, which tell stories of our lives to our beloved ones. When I returned to Mumbai, I brought my old box with me. It had some of the most cherished letters from a time when I didn’t really appreciate them but was glad I kept anyway. Reading old letters is like treasure hunting. Somewhere in those faded paper, there is a story that was packed away for years.
A handwritten letter is risky too. Unlike emails, handwritten letters can’t be re-read as soon as they are put in the mailbox, and couldn’t be un-send too. Once sent, it is gone. It is an object that no longer belongs to you but to the one whom it is sent. I often remembered the feeling of what I could have said more than the words which I wrote. More so, it is a one-sided conversation where I can’t see the reaction of the person I have written to, so there’s a great unknown feeling that requires a leap of faith. I have to choose the right words to express in sentences, and then, once the envelope is sealed, I have sent my thoughts to someone else, trusting that the feelings will be understood and intent correctly interpreted.
I suppose, there is a power in the act of handwriting. Have you noticed that the handwriting changes with emotions? They Talk. They Emote. They have life to them. They are thoughtful, honest and original. How childish to think that could be easy.
Well, in digital life of quick phone calls, emails, whatsapp, and snapchat, it’s so easy to never to find the time to write letters. I was so busy zip-zapping through my life and looking for ways of connecting with everyone around the world – on my side and the other, that I somehow forgot about my special ‘sandwiched’ generation who are struggling to pace up with us. To be able to write beautiful words to the ones you love is a lost art gone with texting and cell phones. That’s a great pity -for me. I am starting to feel that with every breakthrough (or breakdown) in communication technology, our social connections, although admittedly more frequent, are becoming less visceral.
When was the last time I wrote? By hand. Today evening, I wrote a letter to my nana. I feared that my handwriting letter won’t be legible to anyone but me. And this autocorrect and keyboard shortcuts has made me a lazy speller too. Initially I observed that I was much more reluctant to express my actual thoughts and emotions but soon it was not difficult to out to pour my feelings, but quite a bit in writing them down. I hadn’t hand-written an entire page since long. I am glad that I did. I can imagine the happiness he would feel when he will tear the envelope to read my handwritten words. Handwriting is a disappearing art!!
Food for Thought: History would have been a mystery if our ancestors did not write them for us. We read those letters to get a better understanding of life, cultures and people way back 100 years. Will my blog be read to understand me? Will my emails to my friends and family be read in the same as I intended it to be? May be photographs and videos would come close, but the handwritten stuff is always close to heart. I feel that the memories can be best retained in the form of letters.
“And that my soul embraces you this hour, and we affect each other without ever seeing each other, and never perhaps to see each other, is every bit as wonderful.” – Who Learns My Lesson Complete? by Walt Whitman