New Delhi: Yesterday I heard my mother saying, “Do you still remember those days when you eagerly waited for the cycle bell of the postman?” Baba said, “Daakiya Bhai!”
Ten years down the line, we'd have a hard time explaining, to the future generation, what a landline phone is or what the job of a typist was. It's already difficult now. Another profession that's gradually ebbing away from our memory is that of a postman.
The tinkling of a bicycle bell that used to put a smile on faces. A bulky man in his mid-twenties, sweating profusely through his India Post uniform, handed love, care, exam results or even an interview card.
“Never forget to go to temple on Sunday. It's your birthday. Though I can't reach, my blessings will always be with you,” it was love and care passed by a father to his son, who is fighting at the border for his country.
Isn't it really nice? These letters are just signatures of emotions and tears of those loved ones who are staying far away or a secret box between two friends or a lovely piece of romance wrapped in a piece of paper. How many times have you waited at your doorstep for a letter that has not been delivered yet? Didn't it bring you tears and despair very often? Some people remember it as a beautiful spring while others may have tears flowing as rain, when they remember such messages. Yet, they were important in everyone's life.
While searching for an old book or magazine on a shelf, you may get such a letter. A nostalgic trip to old times when WhatsApp didn't exist. Unfold old letters in which the inked words may have faded a little, that small piece of paper may have lost its beauty and yet, it will be enough for you to bring your old college days and some of your memories back to life. Isn't it?
How many times have we read those lines repeatedly? How many memories have passed our minds? While reading those lines once again after years, it seems as if we are entering another birth of our life. That much far letters have gone away from us.
When people became too busy and new technologies like e-mail, chatting and mobile phones come into existence, everyone including me have forgotten letters. Actually when these things reduced the distance between people, the warmth of letters lost its charm. It is really a mere transformation according to the passage of time. But, an era or century was there, where letters from the inevitable part of each one's life. Really, an old letter in our hand can make us remember many lost things including lost relationships and faded young age or even early childhood.
Future generations may think, what an inconvenient thing was that letter of early times, where they had to buy an envelope or cover, write it on paper, go to the post office, fix stamps and post it. Again, it takes 2-3 days to reach the other person's hand. Then it may take one week or more to get its reply. Now, we are getting everything in just one mouse click at our doorstep. Not even needed to buy a postal card. Actually this thought has come into existence in the mind of every person now itself. Easy availability of many things has caused its loss of charm.
I myself as a child loved collecting stamps. The hobby of collecting stamps is often called “the hobby of kings and the king of hobbies.”
Now, letters have been added to our nostalgic things. When we lose our habit of writing, we have lost many of its emotions also. Our habit of opening our mind, romantic tenderness, flood of friendship thoughts, many promises given for a lifetime, we have lost all of them. I never feel that the intensity of emotions that we feel while opening a letter will be available while receiving an sms or opening our e-mail box.
When we are inking our pen to write a letter, what we fill along with it in our mind is the intensity of our love and emotions. Also, the time spent pouring words from the heart is really amazing. Actually, many of our hidden feelings including 'agony and anger', 'happiness and bitterness' and 'small mischief and complaints' are poured through ink from our mind to paper, thus filling our mind with only pleasure and feeling of lightness. When we are beginning with words like dear father, dear mother etc, they are really standing near us in our feelings and we are talking to them.
Very often, from illegible handwriting of the address itself, we identify the person and the emotion with which he wrote it. Even if his handwriting is not good, we just forget about it while opening the letter. Actually, we are reading his mind through his words written in an illegible way. All those things have now added to the past!
Once I spoke to Selva Raj, a lady who served as a post woman. She said, “The tinkling of my cycle bell was a tell-tale sign of my arrival. Eager heads would pop out of the doors in anticipation of news. The year was 1989. Major Prakash was in the Indian Peace Keeping Force. His young wife, pregnant with their child, would sit by the window around noon every day. More often than not, I saw the emotions of relief and anxiety war on her face. No news was probably good news yet it did not dissipate her fear. One rainy afternoon, I carried the ill-fated telegram that left her a widow. I had to experience the excruciating pain of reading it to her and watching her crumble right in front of me.”
Selva shared, “Like all jobs with its ups and downs, I was the proud deliverer to the joyous news too. Young men, who had completed their degrees and were waiting for employment, would buy me an extra biscuit to ensure that I came first to them as soon as I received an envelope from Madras or other cities. I did love my job.”