Remember the Letters

Technology is altering our lives – to say that would be an understatement. Every day there is a scientist or researcher who gives birth to a new technological advancement. Even before you get hang of the latest Blackberry Bold 4 there is a Samsung Galaxy S3 in the market. Touch replacing type and now Siri opens new avenues with voice commands. In the excitement of discovering something new, we forget the old and sooner rather than later outdated concepts get dusted under the carpet.

Melancholy trickles down my spine as I write this. I am the kind of person who develops affection for inanimate objects as if they are living creatures. Yes, I still have that favourite blanket, withered to the extent that it could be used as a rag cloth. My mother has tried replacing it with new, shiny, colourful and soft blankets. Warm just the same but not quite. Whenever I try on a new blanket, questions of fidelity rise in my head and I rush to get hold of my eternal companion. But why all this blanket talk, you may ask.

Well, it’s our ever changing and evolving communicative culture that has piqued my antediluvian sentiments. The death of the typewriter, yes I can understand this. Frankly, typewriters were cumbersome. Changing of the ink, correcting a spelling and getting the alignment properly etc., too many parameters to consider. But what happened to the tradition of handwritten personalized letters?

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

Even today, when the postman comes at your doorstep and you receive a letter in your name, just for a millisecond or even a nanosecond your attention is captured. The envelope is torn and you yawn at the very sight of a machine generated bill or newsletter. Replace that with a personalized postcard from a friend touring Europe and a light sparkles in your eyes. It leaves you with a smile that can raise suspicion amongst your colleagues on a manic Monday.

When you write your thoughts and feelings with pen and paper and send it to someone, it reminds them that you care enough to make the effort. I have a box full of letters hidden in my secret drawer. Though there are chances of the ink wearing out or paper getting torn. Heck! I may even lose that box someday but to go back to those letters on a day when nothing is going my way makes it so much better. Yes, you can send emails. It is faster, safer, blah and blah but there is still a vast difference.

 Letters take me back to the Victorian era when lovers used to express their hidden compassion and sailed through long distance relationships solely on the intensity of words.

"When we two parted

In silence and tears,

Half broken-hearted

To sever for years,

Pale grew thy cheek and cold,

Colder thy kiss;"


Sigh. Don’t you feel the grief in these words? They’ve parted but know not how else to love than through the emotion of words. Now, zoom back to the 21st century, you are most likely to get a text saying – “Baby, m gonna miss u so much. Plz come back soon. I’ll die.” Ugh, makes me cringe.

After every letter, the yearning to meet would grow. Be it whoever, lover, family, friend or foe. Setting a date and time to meet was so important. You can’t text back and say – “hey am stuck in a meeting. Will see you in 2 hours.” Or “Listen, am having a bad headache. Can we meet in Juhu instead of Bandra?”

You have to keep your word. A promise was valued and maybe it is even now. However, it has become so much easier now. Somehow, it steals the depth from relationships. With BBM, Whatsapp and Skype aiding our conversations and umpteen mobile networks fighting for every customer, the whole world is talking. Facebook and Twitter erase international barriers that cell phones could not.

4.5 degrees of separation.. that’s all. This giant blue and green ball is now at your fingertips. Everybody knows everybody.

You don’t know how to cook dal. Skype your Mother. Voila! You are missing your friend in Brazil. DM on Twitter. Voila!

Maybe, we need to miss each other. Maybe we don’t want to read that text at 12 o’clock in the night. Maybe, we want to know that you care and nothing except the warmth of your hand can say that.

As technology takes the human race forward, are we becoming more mechanical? Is the aim of our existence is to bring order out of chaos? Maybe, some chaos is good for your health.

And just so you know, my phone is switched off and I typed this on Microsoft Word.