Apologies for the pompous title, but really why can’t I write letters these days. Not emails, beginning with a ‘hi’, and ending with a ‘cheers’ or ‘adios’, with a smattering of unneccesary ellipsis, but the good old fashioned personal letter we learnt to write in school. You might think why do I need to get so sentimental about the old letter, as long as we communicate.
Firstly, and most obviously, i havent been getting a lot of letters these days, in envelopes brought by the postman in the afternoon, or sometimes dropped surreptitously dropped by the doorstep. Yet i am getting more than my share of emails, and reading them, though gives me a lot of happiness (and sometimes misery!), but still is no match for the hand written stuff. Then again, i cant blame anyone, for i havent written anything with a pen, for the last one year, except just the odd signature here or there. Which is extremely tragic, i feel.
Secondly, i feel the space between sending of a letter and the receiving it is very poignant. It might seem absurd, but thats what i feel. It is the same space where poetry thrives, where lovers pine, where misunderstandings galore, which saves or takes lives. That is so dead, the benefit of doubt.
It is not about time, if you have that in mind. Even when i have lots of time in hand, i have never been able to muster the enthusiasm to pen a letter on a crisp white sheet of paper. It seems anachronistic to such an extent, that one feels that it would be impossible to get a reply, and without a reply it is surely a wastage of effort.
Contrast them to memos, forwards, and sms-es, i mean, all around us, eating us away, almost. And yet, i cant bring myself to believe, it is emails, sms-es or cheap phone calls, that has substituted the letter. Show me the magic of a hand-written letter, with a few penthroughs and a signature at the bottom, postage stampted on three places along the the way, and i will relent. Not otherwise.
An Eliot quote comes to mind, “Life is too precious to be spent in this weaving and unweaving of false impressions, and it is better to live quietly under some degree of misrepresentation than to attempt to remove it by the uncertain process of letter-writing.”
Yet, it is these impressions that we live for, false or not, momentary, notwithstanding.
Should a line be erased, stop me from drawing it, never!
However, truth be told, i am not a good letter writer, and have never written one outside an exam hall. But like all of us like to read them. So much for selfishness, i want it back.
P.S. : A thought for my dad, who sent me 52 letters during the four years of my college, without a single reply from me!