It is always a delight to sift through the relics of childhood. We all have that one shelf in our cupboards that is room to the oldest, most treasurable set of belongings that we have chosen to keep over the years, though we hardly ever touch them. A few days ago, I did just that.
The object was to find some Origami papers I believed I had from back when I was 10. Needless to say, I did not find them. You hardly ever find the right thing, in the right place, at the right time. I found other things, though. Hand-made cards, drawings, autograph diaries (oh how they were popular in those days!) newspaper clippings, stickers, pamphlets (and that includes the ones from the Long March-es that said hum mulk bachanay niklay hain, chalo humaray sath chalo), and of course, letters. Letters received from family and friends, drafts of letters written to government ministries back in those days when I believed they would actually address a school-going girl’s concerns (ah naivety!), and others that I wrote with the intention of posting, yet never actually did. They lie there in the shoe boxes even today, those letters, complete with the envelope and ticket. Unsent. Always will be. Some of the people whom they are addressed to, are dead by now.
I lament the loss of this literary art that was once routine. How sad that we are being raised as a generation that relies on ‘instant’ correspondence! A correspondence in which emoticons and exclamation marks, rather than words, do the talking. A slightly shaky word that gives away how the writer’s hand shivered as he penned it down, is a more powerful expression than the emoticon will ever be. But of course, if you are writing to someone you don’t wish to reveal much of yourself to, then the text message is your thing.
They lie there in the shoe boxes even today, those letters, complete with the envelope and ticket. Unsent. Always will be. Some of the people whom they are addressed to, are dead by now.
Often I have written to people in this age of E-mails and instant messaging, only to receive a phone call a few days later, thanking me for it. Then they ask me about my studies, comment on the weather, ask after everyone at home, and that’s it. That’s it. They do not write back.
It so happens, that when you allow the hand the freedom to write, the first thing it does is disconnect itself from the head. Then it pricks the heart, and lets it all steadily pour out. That is why you will often find yourself tearing papers to shreds, then disposing them off like you never owned them in the first place – because they give away secrets you have kept even from yourself. As for me, for every letter that I write, I give away at least one secret. And though I regret it later on, deep inside I am glad there is at least one less of them accompanying me to the grave.
As for me, for every letter that I write, I give away at least one secret.
It is good, this kind of catharsis. Necessary at times. And it is something that can only be achieved with a pen on a paper, not fingertips pushing actual or virtual buttons.
So go on, write a letter. Must you forget every time that you are in the position to make a difference? Let it be anyone. Family, friends, the incoming President, or maybe the outgoing one? Oh and don’t forget to post it! Otherwise they’ll be like those letters in that shelf of my cupboard that are complete with the envelope and ticket, yet unsent and always will be. Because some of the people whom they were addressed to, are dead by now.