Why, then do we not practice this most elegant of exercises anymore?
We text, message, forward, share, tweet, even phone. Although this last item has been overtaken by the ubiquitous text.
I am sure if writing a letter is mentioned to anyone south of seventeen it will probably get a bewildered response, like, “Why write letters? Texting is way faster.”
Why would anyone want to spend time writing (with pen on paper) when a few words tapped on a keyboard will do the job. Better yet, send an emoji or a gif. The internet is swimming with these cute, seemingly “cool” images – all we have to do is choose which one to send.
And this is when you smile your secret smile for only you know how satisfying letter writing can be. That is, if you are of the generation that grew up writing by hand.
Choosing the right kind of paper – cream on cream, parchment thin; heavy white embossed with watermarked design; patterned borders on either snowy white or beige background. Texture, beauty, fine living all rolled into one of those stationery pieces we used to drool over.
When was the last time I visited a stationery shop? Do they even exist? And if they do, would they still carry anything resembling writing paper?
Letters from home helped me maintain my balance, stay grounded, rejoice in my identity, during those early years as a newcomer to a strange country. Opening, reading, re-reading, then answering the letter. I read and shared stories with family and friends and just by that action both our lives became richer for then we became the keeper of someone’s story, like a confidante.
Letters are private. Hugely personal. Opposite of social media.
My letter writing arsenal is pitifully small these days but it does exist stored in the red fabric folder. From time to time, I will go through the collection reliving in my mind those days when the words released from my pen turned into rivers – of thoughts and emotions – and journeyed onwards, by plane, and train, bus and bicycle, the edges of the envelope becoming a bit more bent as it passed from hand to hand, until reaching its destination. To be read and re-read. Stored in a safe place. Till it was time to pen a reply.
#lettersfromhome #amwriting #writingcommunity #writers #inspiration #nostalgia
When I am asked who is your favourite author, I say there are many. I have amassed a huge collection of books on almost any subject.
Authors are also poets, essayists, political activists and avid gardeners. In one of her recent posts on Instagram, Barbara Kingsolver shared some awesome pictures of flowers from her garden. Anyone who can coax pretty things out of the soil stands tall in my esteem.
My mother could make anything grow. I can’t. But if I am to receive a growing thing in a planter, and as long as I don’t transplant it, I know it will thrive under my care. I did plant some papaya seeds once and it grew into a tall tree. By then I had left home and did not get to enjoy the sweet fruit.
Funny how one thought leads to another. Like having a conversation with a close friend.
When I started the post, I was thinking of all the books and poetry I have read; then my thoughts veered towards my mother and how she cared for our garden in my childhood home in the small town of Hazaribagh.
It was from Ma that we learned – crushed eggshells, ground up tea leaves (dregs from the pot) and vegetable peel – all make good plant food. This was way before the world became fascinated by the 3 R’s – reuse, recycle, reduce. Ma said she learned about caring for plants from her father, our Dadu.
Something else Ma said once has stayed with me. We were in the garden that day, the smaller one in the courtyard of our house, and admiring the rose bush; it was winter, perfect time for roses to come alive. We had to be careful while snipping some to fill vases for this bush had thorns like nobody’s business. But the roses it yielded were glorious.
Ma said that Dadu had mentioned the red of the rose looks perfectly in place between its green leaves. In fact, one colour enhances the beauty of the other.
That is so true. Think of creation.
A fiery sunset has shades of orange, red, sienna, even gold.
Purple lavender, blue delphinium, yellow sunflower, red tulip, white carnation, the list goes on, all growing on green stalk surrounded by green leaves.
Then we have the Indian sari – six yards of gorgeousness in magical colours inspired by nature and looking perfectly normal.
It was tough to choose which one to share here, so I am posting pictures of three out of a burgeoning collection stuffed in drawers, shelves and cupboards.
Somewhat, like the question – who is your favourite author? There are so many whose work I find inspiring, fulfilling and rewarding. Hard to choose only one.
Keep well. Stay safe.
Purabi Sinha Das
#coloursofnature #amwriting #poetryinnature #writingcommunity #reading #indiansari #tradition
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