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Letter Writing : A Dying Art March 1, 2013

Posted by Shahir in Life.

At least once, everyone would have experienced the anxiety of that wait for the postman to appear with that precious little thing in his hand, or for the sight of that little envelop in your post-box that has travelled a long distance, or perhaps a few lanes of the town, carrying your name, written with so much of passion at an hour when the world around must have been asleep and the shadow of pen on the paper from the lamp on the table appeared as the hands of the beloved, holding yours!

What a wait that was then!

The joy and excitement of writing a letter; the conversations that takes place in the backyard of mind as we sit down to write, part of which flows on to the paper as words and part of which evaporates into the midnight air as sighs and smiles, the aching to capture them and squeeze through the nib of pen as words and the anxiety from the inability to express in words the lava of emotions boiling within.

You then read it once, through your own eyes. You read it next through the eyes and minds of your beloved. For a moment you attribute to it the voice of your beloved; the next moment you hear your own words; the images resurrecting from the page, senses arousing as the eyes sifts through the words again, again, and again, beginning a conversation of hopes and dreams shared sitting beside, suddenly erasing all the distances of streets, lakes and hills that divided you till a moment ago!

There is a ceremony of closing that envelope, but before that a moment more spent on the page, with a loving smile at a moment in future. The carefully folded page is slide into the envelope, to be sealed with love. The only time you would have spent that long writing a name would be perhaps on the first day when the schools reopen, when the text books are all new and must carry your names, the first writing on them are written with such a care and determination; such and more is the care when the address of the beloved is written on the envelope!

What follows next is the paradoxically delightful and aching wait for the letter to reach the other end. Moments of its journey through the different post offices are calculated in mind, and the imaginations of it reaching there, the moments of it being read and the wait for its reply – adding richness to the experience of living!

On the other end, what a moment that is, to be receiving that letter! There is an urge to open it immediately, at the same time a dictation of mind to simply adore that moment of holding it and looking at your name being written with not-so-artistically-artistic curves and dots and strikes of y’s and I’s and ‘t’s; what would be the closest metaphor to compare the care in which the envelope is opened! And what a battle of mind and heart is to follow when the letter is taken out of envelope! Should I read this word, or see what the next word is? What is in the next line, or is it written in the paragraph that follows? The curiosity is at its height with every word that’s read and every sentence that’s remaining. To read them all at once is the desire on one end, and it should never end is a silent prayer on the other end.

That follows the special moments of writing a reply. Sometimes it’s nice to delay, for selfish reasons though. In the space of that delay occupies the words of our conversations, the sharing of thoughts, the laughter that fill, the smiles and sighs that punctuates…. There is warmth in that space, where I know I am conversing and there is an imaginary conversation back to me too…

Anything that can represent the moment of that writing will find space in that reply, in words or in other forms; a lock of hair, a bristle of brush or teeth of comb, a piece of a shawl or a petal of rose, they are all divine forms of insanity when letters are replied to their beloved!

A beautiful letter is a string that connects hearts from distance; it’s a story you would wish to read again; it’s a piece of heart that you would love to embrace in the absence of your beloved; it’s a narration of love when expression of it is hard; it marks the milestones of the journey in love, and it represents the aching of hearts on one end and it presents itself as its cure on the other end. They are with which you wake up. They are with which you sleep. At times, they appear as your only reasons to live, when that’s the only thing you open your windows for.

A dying art that once carried the pulse of loving hearts!



First published on March 04, 2011



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