Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lost Letters

Do you remember the last time you wrote a letter? Put in something other than a scrawled signature in a birthday card?

I am not talking about emails and SMSes. I am talking about putting pen to paper and actually writing something other than a quick dash of your name in a birthday card from your company.

Nowadays, there is a big drive for paper conservation. A big cellular company has actually run a TV campaign promoting use of electronic devices instead of paper. Add to that the convenience of short messages, texting, facebooking et al. Writing has almost has become a last resort when there are no cell phones, computers or laptops around.

But don’t you miss the handwritten word? I know, I do. There is something personal about a letter starting with an endearment written in a familiar handwriting. About a greeting card, which has a message over and above the printed one, just for me. The ‘Open with a smile’ instruction written in a red sketch pen on the envelope of a birthday card.

Keeping journals and diaries is also electronic now. Yet, I prefer the scratch of the dot pen on prone to yellowing diaries with abstract or scenic covers. Or the glide of a gel pen. The pressing of red roses, yellow tulips and a rare leaf between the pages of an old, dear diary.

And pens. There was a time when a sleek pen set used to be the reward for an exam aced. Now all people have is a perfunctory ball pen on their desk. Still, I can’t resist the beautiful designs and coloured inks pens are now available in. I almost have all the colours on my desk – from bright orange to the basic blue. My work notebook has most serious notes written in all sorts of vibrant colours. A colleague once told me that my notepad looks like a scrapbook with its colourful scribbles. My response: “Thank you.”

I used to have a big, black bag full of all the letters and greeting cards my family used to receive. A letter addressed to me specifically (and not just containing the obligatory "Love to kids" that children in the family generally merited) used to make my day special. How I looked forward to those cards on my birthday! I did not just love receiving letters. I loved writing them. Pouring my heart out to a beloved cousin or saying "I miss you” to a just married aunt. Adding those special messages with the flourishes of a poetic soul in an anniversary or a birthday card. I miss it all.

I hate paper wastage. But somehow I am loathe to stop the use of paper altogether. Because somehow to me, it represents being in touch always without the personal feel. A text message can be sweet. An e-card be funny or smart or have its own set of pyrotechnics. It feels special to receive them. It’s just not the same though, is it?
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