Waiting for a letter, any letter, is one of the many vivid childhood memories I have. I remember the excitement with which I used to ask the postman – “Is there any letter you are dropping to my house?”. It used to be a definitive moment. If the postman indeed was carrying a letter for my family, I took joy in becoming the harbinger to my family, even though it would be as mundane as a promotional letter of no consequence. If there was no letter, well, better luck next time. What I wouldn’t do is miss asking the postman about letters.
I remember all sorts of letters – there was a blue inland letter, which had ample writing space and could be folded neatly into a letter for which you don’t need envelope and stamp. In fact, the written matter was also concealed from everyone. Then there was this khaki envelope, which used to carry letter written on loose sheets. This was also the envelope that was the preferred choice for sending rakhi. There was the telegram, which either used to carry good or bad news succinctly in a format that the postal department had decided. It was a tense moment opening a telegram.
Finally, there was the humble postcard. The cheapest mode of sending your communication across, albeit, open for all. That is, anyone could read what you’ve written. That did not deter people from writing personal stuff and sending it across. I myself have read so many postcards – because we (my friends and I) had somehow known the mechanism to open the lock of the famous red iron letter box where everyone used to deposit their letters for collection. It was a wonderful experience, for it was forbidden and and at the same time, joy of being able to open the letter box.
I cant remember when was the last time I had received a written letter of some importance, or a Post Card from a friend or relative. Only letters that I get are from credit card, banks and insurance companies. and sometimes from a shopping mall or a showroom. Now these are also stopped because of the ‘go green’ initiatives of these organizations. Emails, Messaging, Skype can never bring back the excitement of hand written letters. Waiting anxiously for an email is not at all comparable to waiting for a letter, for it brought joy that is difficult to measure in words. Time, anticipation, patience all contributed to it. The instant gratification of today’s communication mediums just cannot match up.
With internet becoming all pervasive, these mediums may eventually become extinct. Poor telegram has already breathed its last on July 14, 2013. My grouse is that the electronic font’s just don’t convey the same feelings (explains why I don’t buy a kindle). I guess the spontaneity is all gone with back space, delete and undo options. Agreed that we did tear a lot of paper for getting the right stuff on paper, but guess editing and trimming is far more overpowering than it is in the hand written format. Well, as they say, you gotta live with the times, for they-are-a-changing. But, I would still await and continue to ask the postman for letters with that childlike excitement.
Letters were a great form of conversations and exchange of ideas / views in a patient setting, which alas, has lost out to Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype etc. Omnipresence, instant communication and being available 24X7 scares me to hell. At least there were no trolls in between, and it felt way personal.
Anyway, conversations are dying too. More on that some other day.
P.S. I was travelling recently and decided to send some postcards to myself – and felt awesome while I received them back home. Now, I have made a resolution that I will send post cards to myself whenever I am travelling to a new place. If you want to get included in the list, just send a word :).