I am afraid I can only tell you very little in these letters of mine. But that little, I hope will interest you and make you think of the world as a whole, and of other peoples in it as our brothers and sisters.” (Letters from a Father to his Daughter)
- Jawaharlal Nehru
I don’t remember when I last went to a postbox to drop off a letter or card for a loved one. In this high tech age, where it is quite easy to shuffle from one city to another, keeping in touch through letters has became a thing of past, especially among the youth like us. To convey a message either to friends or cousins, one just logs on to one’s email account, scribbles a few lines, hits the send button and the job is done. Those days are gone when my cousins and friends used to receive volumes of letters and cards from me, every month. During my school days, letter writing not only brought immense pleasure but also gave one’s tender brain a lot of exercise. Among all letters I received, the blue inland letters from my grandfather were the most cherished ones. Later in life, being a cadet in the prestigious National Defence Academy, I retained this habit. Life there was hectic and fast but I still wrote letters to my friends and received memorable replies. Internet and mobile phone diminished the frequency of my letters. Even folks at my home town switched over to the fast electronic media. Now, they are just a mouses click away from me. This became the default mode of staying in touch with family and friends.
During my recent leave I got a pleasant surprise when a postman knocked on my door. As he handed me an airmail letter sent from Line of Control, it took me down memory lane when letters would arrive in envelopes. The airmail brought with it a warm feeling that somehow an email never can. The sender was a friend who is serving in Army, with whom I had lost touch with for the past 8 years. I was engulfed with nostalgia while going through it. He said he confirmed my postal address from a common friend. To receive four pages of a letter from a long lost friend, written with a fountain pen which he always used when we were in 10th standard was like a breath of fresh air to me. The time he invested in writing that letter and emotions that it packed were unfathomable. It wasn’t as fast as an email as it reached me 25 days after he posted it, but the priceless warmth of the letter will remain with me forever. After reading that letter, I felt that a soldier's experience and sacrifice are what truly make them heroes of our nation.
To understand how a letter can inspire and enlighten you, one must read a book Letter from a Father to his Daughter. Indira Gandhi was just about 10 years old when her father Jawaharlal Nehru, who at that time was in prison in Allahabad, wrote 30 letters in the year 1928. Even a century later, these letters continue to teach and inspire us all. The content of “Letters from a Father to his Daughter” provide insight upon varied subjects, from the origin of the Solar system and the concept of kingship to the idea of distribution of surplus wealth of the society. Each of these letters is a gem in itself and the doting father Jawahar indeed succeeds in invigorating the mind of the child, Indira through these letters. One wonders why such a book which is a trove of knowledge in just about two hundred pages is not prescribed for school syllabus.
One always treasures such letters which can be read again and again to take one back down the memory lane. Blessed are those who witnessed the era of letter writing and I am pretty sure that we all must have kept a bouquet of these cherished letters, be it a motivational & encouraging letter from your father, an emotional one from your mother full of love & care, from friends with whom you shared all your secrets, from siblings strengthening the bonds, romantic letters from your beloved partner, letters from your beloved children and if one is lucky, from the tiny hands of their grand-children. To sum it all, one can safely assume that Letter Writing is a lost art because nowadays, people either chat or make a phone call or send an emoji. However, one’s feelings can’t always be conveyed in this manner.
Old pleasures like writing letters are being killed off by technology...