Feeling pen-sive

In the great sense letter-writing is no doubt a lost art. It was killed by the penny post and modern hurry. When Madame de Sevigny, Cowper, Horace Walpole, Byron, Lamb, and the Carlyles wrote their immortal letters the world was a leisurely place where there was time to indulge in the luxury of writing to your friends. And the cost of franking a letter made that letter a serious affair. Carlyle saw that the advent of the penny post would kill the letter by making it cheap … he foretold that people would not bother to write good letters when they could send them for next to nothing. He was right, and the telegraph, the telephone, and the postcard have completed the destruction of the art of letter-writing. It is the difficulty or the scarcity of a thing that makes it treasured. If diamonds were as plentiful as pebbles we shouldn’t stoop to pick them up” — A. G. Gardiner ( The blogger read this in a letter send to an estimable newspaper The Hindu by V. Jagadeesan, Hyderabad)

I wrote my first letter when I was nine or ten year old. An old lady in my village was having problems at home and she wanted to communicate them to her husband who was in military services. She could have gone to other places but revealing personal problems to grown-ups are generally very traumatic. Under the ‘Imli‘ tree I was doing mathematics and my mother was cutting the vegetables. She came and sat there and talked with my mother for at least an hour before coming to the point that she wanted me to write an letter for her. She was hoping that my mother would budge from there while I write the letter for her but unfortunately, mom was not in any mood to decline the joy of witnessing the details for someone else personal life.

I took a paper out of my notebook and thought about how should I write a letter. I asked her what she wanted me to write. She perhaps was narrating in her head to make the details look least embarrassing, if any. She aked me write the ‘things which you write in a letter in opening as gambit‘ so I wrote, starting from ‘prannath‘ and enjoyed writing it. I finished the letter and she posted it without the postages. Apparently, a letter without postages is considered ‘written in emergency’ and very urgent by the post office, the receiver has to pay for the postages and that relieved her for spending money today. After a month she came back with a letter for me to read. I read it to her and fortunately my mother was not around.

In my Village, receiving a letter was a rare event and rarest was receiving an printed letter. As I sailed into the seas of modern world, I started getting printed letters, sometimes roll-numbers, forms, results, cards etc which made me feel special. I liked them and now I regret that I got what I wished for. Every time I look into mail box, all I get is some computer generated letters (and so they do not need a signature, damn). I never received an hand-written letter till I was 22. Perhaps, feeling the joy of getting a hand written letter is subjective. Not everyone seems to be amused by the idea of wasting so much time and energy on such a trivial matter. But for people like me, it’s worth it, even if I have easier options.

I did write a lot of letters and received a few. I wrote to my teachers on teachers days, wrote to few friends, and wrote to you know who without getting a reply. Unfortunately, my mother is not literate else I’d have loved to write her letters. I find it better to use paper as my thoughts carrier rather then using electromagnetic waves even if some Sir Ji making me look like a demon for being the cause in cutting down the trees.

I have been a simple and harmless spirit mostly wander around here and there for pretty and amusing memories.And I have this temptation of day dreaming about all the good things coming true. In my dreams, I do have stupid conversations with myself and sometime I wish I could write them to someone. Nishant has promised me that he would write me back if I write him a letter. I can trust him on this but I thought of making his life less miserable by promising him that for every 3 letters you get you need to write one and do not write भेसाब   as he wrote in a letter to his brother. And if he ever replied back by an email ….

Letters should not be judged by market values and their utility in these troubled modern times. They are written by individuals to individuals. Their own handwriting makes then unique even if they have nothing much to say. This is something I can never get in an email. Their flow, their mistakes, their ink, their flaws, and  yes of course, the full stop, all unique. Last week, someone asked me about a post-box and I was delighted. It is really nice to see that the post-boxes do not have colonies of wasp in them.

What wouldn’t I do to have someone to write letters to.

FOOTNOTES
[1] ABOUT THE TITLE : First, I put the title as ‘Feeling pen-ish’ but that sound like ‘feeling penis’ in my head. Then I took a internet sortie and found an article which I liked very much. Title of this blog is taken from here. http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/society/article492094.ece

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Author: Dilawar

Graduate Student at National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.

3 thoughts on “Feeling pen-sive”

  1. In this modern world we are getting away from reality and everything is getting artificial. when you read a letter you feel it more real with original handwriting and your emotions are different. Reading emails don't make you as excited as reading letters….

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