Monday, March 19

Black and white

This post has been held back, for good reasons. It was written when I read Atul's latest post last week and was struck by the coincidence.

After 20 years, I wrote a letter and posted it on Tuesday. I've been in love with the idea of writing and receiving letters for as long as I can remember. I've even written about it on the blog, a long time ago. The question, easily asked, would be - why take the trouble? After all, email is easily accessible, free, convenient and costs nothing. I'm not anti-technology or anything; plenty of emails have been written to a lot of people and there are days I read through some of the old stuff and wonder about how the serious problems of the past can seem childish, petulant or even laughable in the present. But, such is life. One grows, shrugs off every passing year like a skin, only keeping the lessons. Some of us become older, if not wiser and both age and knowledge can soften the sharpest of experiences.In the 21st century, old emails mark our journey and its perfectly natural.  

But email doesn't have that. Even though a voice in your head is asking you to be rational and understand that its just a figment of your imagination, there is a warmth that a letter is capable of lighting in your heart. Even as you look for a letter-opener (I still have one), you can't help smiling; which is silly, since the letter could very well be bad news. On the other hand, it could be someone sharing something of their life; a description, an idea, an experience, a learning... something nondescript to everyone in the world. Except you.
  
Its only to you. For you. That, in this increasingly information-overloaded, over-connected, blase world, is still something special. 

So, superficially, this letter I penned (literally... fountain pen and everything) was the fulfilment of a promise to do so. I'm not sure if the promise was made to the friend.

Or to myself.

But, I'm glad I wrote it.

I have to say, though, that letter-writing has become a privileged and expensive proposition. Letter pads, envelopes, stamps, gum... the list goes on. And when, on a sunny afternoon in Bombay, you enter the sleepy post office and ask for an envelope with the familiar white, blue & red stripes and the 'Par Avion' stamp, you are told, "Sorry, we don't have any. Try the stationery next door." Its a moment rich in irony, pathos and humour. And if writing a letter will let me live more such moments, then that is a wonderful thing.

Song for the moment: Sunday morning - The Velvet Underground

P.S: To be on the safe side, I bought a lot of envelopes. Who knows when they'll go completely out of fashion, no?

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