Saturday, October 12, 2013

Let’s become pen pals all over again

In the times of Facebook and Twitter, almost everybody is a writer. We seem to have understood the importance of expressing ourselves. We have begun to develop a fondness for translating our thoughts. While we frequently strive to master the art of weaving words and cleansing the mind, we also seem to have forgotten the simple and authentic tools that we used when we were kids. Pen and paper have taken a back seat. They have made way for social media. I understand that its practically impossible to courier your status messages to folks if those are hand-written.  But on the other side, in my opinion, we dearly miss the pleasure of putting our thoughts to paper. We miss reading and re-reading our loved ones’ letters. We miss the surprise that we enjoy when we find an old letter unexpectedly while cleaning the closet. We miss laughing at the silly spelling and grammatical errors that our friends make. We miss smelling the scent of papers. And this realisation hit me when a friend couriered a 10-line hand-written letter to me, when all that I expected from him was just a book. As I opened the book, the letter that was put in a neat envelope slipped out. I was taken aback to see a lovely hand-written letter. Although it was a short one, I basked in the happiness of reading a letter after ages. But don’t I experience the same kind of ecstasy when someone sends a nice email? Don’t I feel special when someone posts a Facebook status about me? Yes, I do! But the sort of contentment that I enjoy when I hold the paper, lose myself in someone else’s words and preserve it safely for future reading is invaluable. It is a magical experience. And it occurred to me that social media is gradually taking away that priceless treasure.

When my husband and I were experiencing roughest time of our lives, I wrote a four-page letter to him, although I had a computer and printer at home. I wrote, stroke off and rewrote. And the process was repeated. But when I placed the last period, I knew that I had told all that I wanted to. It was a cathartic experience. And when my husband read the letter, we realised that the gap lied between us was effortlessly bridged by the simple letter that I wrote. But unfortunately, that was the last letter that I wrote to him. After that, I began preferring email to paper and quite honestly, email doesn’t come any close to writing a letter. It’s been almost seven years since I wrote that letter. But my husband still reads it once in a while and indulges in banters. He quizzes if I am still mad about him and I ask him to replace ‘about’ with ‘at’    A letter gives us quite a few golden opportunities. It helps us to relive our best experience and it also aids in purging out those memories that we try hard to forget.

In this journey called life, we learn some of our best lessons from unexpected sources. I was inspired to start writing letters again by my seven-year-old nephew Shravan. For our birthdays and wedding anniversaries, the little boy surprises us with hand-made greeting cards. Those modern-art sorts of paintings and illegible handwriting of Shravan convey so much that even an articulate person can’t. My pet nephew also rekindled the spirit in me. Thanks to my favourite boy! I have stopped buying greeting cards. I have started to spend at least two minutes to write a tiny letter to my loved ones to wish them on their special days. Yes, I’m guilty of reducing the sales of Archies’ cards.  But there is nothing more special than writing a touching note all by myself to give a sneak peek in to my heart.

I used to be afraid of making grammatical errors. I dreaded the idea of writing a long letter without making any mistakes. But the more I have started to write, I feel liberated. Social media does a great job in pronouncing our feelings. However that inexplicable feeling that I get when I see the excitement of my loved ones when they read my letter, is so beautiful. It is one sort of an addiction – a healthy addiction. It makes me want to write more. But where do I go for so many people and special days? I wish I could write at least one letter a day. If you haven’t received a letter in a long time (besides the so-called friendly letter that you get from your banks), email me your address. I would love to write to you too!  Let’s become pen pals all over again!

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