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.
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