Remember letters?

Posted on January 04, 2010 by Priya Tuli

Filed under General | 2 Comments


I found a bunch of old letters today, in an old shoebox. They were from 15 and twenty years ago, a fraught period in my timeline, and reading through them reminded me of many forgotten events, places and faces. Nostalgia-tripping, bigtime. The strange thing is that it feels like all of that happened to someone else. Time has blurred the edges and everything looks slightly out-of-focus from where I am now.

Ah, the wisdom of hindsight, the luxury of perspective. I see now the lessons I had to learn, and of course I would never have learned them if life hadn't unfolded exactly as it had. It's usually the toughest of life's passages that have the most to teach us. A reluctant learner, I  kicked and screamed loudly, cussing and shaking my fist at the sky for good measure, when life continued to toss me one after another of those 'curve-ball' lessons.

But that's not the point. The point is, nobody writes letters any more. Not REAL ones. The last one I received was 12 years ago. No wait, I still have ONE friend who refuses to use email. Actually I have several, but only one who still writes letters and cards instead. And mails them. Every year, I still get a couple of letters from her. That's the only time I get to see stamps any more.

Email doesn't count, nor do Word.docs, because though we say we write them, technically we don't. We tap-tap them out on a keyboard. And that is one whole remove away from the act of writing a letter.

The paper you write on absorbs your thoughts, feelings, messages, vibration. So the receiver might actually have a fit of the shakes when they finally get to read your letter.

But seriously, apart from the vibrations, letters were a direct connect from the writer to the reader. Both invested time and energy in order to connect. The one to write, and the other to read. That's why you write a letter, but send an email. Today, none of us focuses singlemindedly on anything, because we're so into multi-tasking. Which is a shame. But when you're reading a letter, even an old one, like I was an hour ago, you can't simultaneously check email and watch TV and talk on the phone.

So anyway, I was riffling through these letters in order to see if any
were worth keeping. All I managed to get rid of was an old bank
statement. I kept all the letters. Every one of them. I don't care who reads them after I'm dead, it won't matter any more.

Kids born in the last 10 or 15 years will never know the anticipation of waiting to receive a letter, of marvelling at the postage stamps, of ripping open the envelope and pulling out the letter, of sneaking off somewhere quiet to read it. They will never need to develop letter writing skills, because they were born in the age of SMS. And they will never understand what us Old Farts are on about, when we get sentimental about an old shoebox full of letters.

 



Comments:

I completely agree with this post. Even though I was born within the last 15 years, I have a shoebox or two of letters and cards [mostly from people in India], but it mainly consists of contents from the first eight or so years of my life. Which says a lot, like the topic of your post. Or I just became a more disagreeable person once I hit 9. It's sad to say that I'm not sure which option I would prefer, because of the implications of each. I still treasure those letters and love rereading them every once in a while. Thank you for this post.

You're an amazing writer, btw.

Posted by Mallika on January 04, 2010 at 07:10 AM WIT #

Thank you, Mallika! Send me your snailmail address and I'd be happy to add to the shoebox collection ;-)

Yes, letters are special. I've destroyed and thrown away many over the years, and do still sort of regret not having kept some of those haha, not telling which ones though!

You write well too! Just went back to your blog after ages. Remember having left a comment in the early days, a very complimentary one. I think I got a grunt in response.

Disagreeable is another family trait we ought to be proud of; makes it easier to identify each other in the dark.

If you link your blog to facebook, it's easier for people to know when you're hibernating and when you're active. I think.

Keep writing. You enjoy it, which is why you're good at it. Some of your stuff is hysterical! You're probably going to go places with your writing, you know that don't you ;-)

Posted by Priya Tuli on January 04, 2010 at 07:20 PM WIT #

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