A conversation in a buzzing bar over a mug of beer got me thinking on today's theme; the writing of a letter. As with many of the shared contemplations I've had, we spoke about it for the sake of the flowing idea, the peculiarly gentle glee in being able to use what have commonly been referred to as 'big words' in actual conversation without having the threat of perplexity hanging in the air. Perhaps you have & enjoy these moments yourself. Mayhaps, you have debated the same theme ?
Nonetheless, I often ponder upon the march of time & technology that has left me regarding life with some ambiguity. I appreciate technology & how it has made living easier on many levels. I do not hanker for the b/w television nor for a computer with 16 MB RAM & the large floppy disk. I thank the heavens for air-conditioning & the photocopier. I use the internet a lot. The Dark Ages or in India's case, the years up to the 1990's, had their moment in the sun. But like a handful of people I know (know, I said. There's probably a boatload of you lot out there), there are some things I miss for their ability to remind me that I was a child once. Those large, box-type knobby radios for one. That delightful telephone with the rotating dial pad for another. Not having experienced a childhood that even remotely resembled either the Blyton or Wodehouse varieties, I'm not struck by a sense of nostalgia when I reminisce about those years. But I am at a loss to explain why the ticker feels a little hollow and the shoulders a tad more weary when I catch a glimpse of memorabilia that has quietly faded away.
I want to ask you - can you remember the last personal letter you wrote ? Not typed. Think back to crisp white notepads with those reddish-maroon ruled lines. To a certain nervousness... or was it hesitancy... as you sharpened the pencil or filled the pen with Camel blue ink. That metallic smell wafting out of the ink bottle or that of the wood shavings. Perhaps you unconsciously stuck the tip of your tongue out as you began to give life to those blank spaces, telling your story to someone else. Someone who meant enough for you to write them. To eventually feeling a slight pain in your hand, only to find that you've written over five pages of vivid yet tragicomically ordinary descriptions. To being confused about whether to end with 'yours faithfully, yours truly, yours sincerely, love...' and having to look up letter writing in the Wren & Martin.
To worrying about whether you've attached the right amount of postage ?
When was the last time you received an envelope with sheets of writing addressed to you ? Perhaps the writer liked using scented paper. Perhaps they included photographs. Perhaps they knew you were something of a philatelist & attached exotic stamps ? When did a sheet of paper start with 'Dear (your name)', meaning it was for you & you alone, letting you delight in a rare fragment of privacy in a public home.
I write to no one because I do not know their exact address. I no longer read names of funny sounding streets & cities and dream about what these places would be like. There is no longer any need for me to look in the mail box.
One moves with the times, but the tendrils of the past often reach out and brush up against memory. Against an aching longing. Against a loss of identity.
Not having written a letter to anyone in years, I find that I have written one to you. Not in the way I wanted to but perhaps with more affection than other avenues would allow.
With warm regards,
Song for the moment: Video killed the radio star - Buggles