29 June 2009

Romancing the Letters

Some of you may remember a scene from the Bollywood movie ‘Border’. A satchel-full of letters arrives at a remote border outpost and all hell breaks loose. There is a mad scramble for the letters. What joy on the faces of those who receive a letter! It’s like getting a little bit of one’s home there in the frontline. You can also see the despair on the faces of those who did not receive a letter. Letters, not long ago, use to change our worlds.
But things have changed a bit since emails, Facebook and Orkut.
Letters may have been romantic but Facebook is faster and tighter. You know who is doing what and how in real time. It takes 7 seconds instead of 7 days for a ‘Kodak Moment’ to reach you.
Still, I long for letters. Not so long ago, we got real birthday cards through real post. What joy to know that your long lost friend remembers your birthday! She could send you a virtual card as well. But will never be the same. It appears all so plastic when you receive a virtual card.
In the yesteryears a whole network spawned with penpals, a hobby grew with stamp taken off from the letters received from penpals. We called it philately then. It is still called philately but the romance has gone. Mails were central to some of our lives’ idioms. We would cross our fingers when a red mail van went past and would uncross them whenever a black car followed. We felt the pain of someone who never got a letter. There was a corner in each literature where love abounded in letters; where hidden flowers lay withered in such letters. We have heard the ballads of the Runners who ran with our mail through rough country, day in and day out, never pausing to catch a breath.
These days, my eyes cloud whenever I hear the song, ‘Please, Mr Postman’. It was a song which pleaded with the postman to get a letter; sooner the better. I do know that those heady days of hundreds of letters on New Years have gone forever. We only get bills and bank statements in our letter boxes these days.
We had a limerick that told us what would happen if we sighted the bird Mynah in ones, twos, threes or fours. It went like this:
One for sorrow, two for joy
Three for letter, four for toy.
Probably due to eco degradation, it has been a while since I saw three Mynahs together. Is it a wonder that I haven’t received a real letter in a while!
Let us start the magic of real letters all over again. Write a real letter to your best friend. See the joy on her face.

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