I wrote a real letter, after a long time.
There’s a context to real. It means that it was handwritten on paper, put in an envelope, was addresses by hand, postage stamps were applied, and it was dropped in a proper post-box.
I’ve recently written a few letters. Some are incomplete. Some complete, but not posted. Some completed, and sent — but as scans, some nearly perfect, but sent via courier.
There were two challenges with this letter; one that it was being written to someone who was less than a third my age, second that it was (in all probability) the first letter for my young recipient ever. After all was done, I had to go to the post office. I had no postage stamps. And though my mother had some old ones, I had no idea how much postage would be required for my letter’s destination.
So off I went.
It’s five rupees now. For less than the cost of a cutting-chai two pages of a letter can travel anywhere in this country. For those of you who may not have cutting-chai as a benchmark, it costs US$0.08. Less than a dime. The Indian postal system is an institution that I have always respected, and nothing has changed in that department. No pun intended. The post office is much cleaner, spacious, and instead of letters being bang-stamped there is a whirr of a dot-matrix printer. The post office looks brighter and happier.
I owe a bit to my recipient, else this was an experience I would not have had.
Writing the letter was a very interesting experience. Especially with the spellings, because another friend had pointed out, that I should be careful with the spellings. I discovered, the speed with which I can write, has reduced considerably. I wrote the letter as I would have written when I was prolific with letter writing. I do not know if the style will make sense to my young reader. Well, in the least, my reader will know how we used to write letters 20-25 years ago. Yet, I did not feel like making any changes in the style. In the end, I was very happy with what came out.
I knew I’d write more letters than before. And I want to write letters now. Let me know if you’d like to receive one. So, while I was dropping this letter, in the post office, I bought some prepaid envelopes and a few stamps. The prepaid envelopes look very different now. But I’ve changed too. So has my handwriting. So has my paper. So has my pen. So have my thoughts. So have the people I’d write to.
In this ever-changing world, the sense of writing a letter has stayed the same.