Long gone are the days when we had a little excitement, a little nervousness unfolding the letters arriving from friends, parents, relatives, lovers and sometimes even strangers. Those scribbles meant so much. They could speak of our emotions such as love, concern, longing and what not.
I still have the letters I received from my friend almost 5 years ago. They mean a lot to me. They are like written evidences of the long lasting friendship we have had. She usually would inform me about her daily ongoings and ask me to share my own stories. Some of the letters would have just general discussions, yet others had drama. She once wrote a really big letter to me explaining how she did not realize that the dog she took in as a pet was actually a bitch and how she had to rename her from ‘Sherlock’ to ‘Pepper’. That was one hell of a letter. It can still make me laugh even in my lowest moments.
Letters were a very significant mode of communication in the past. The advent of technology brought a lot of change in the way we communicate. Letter writing got replaced initially by e-mails and then as we began to lose more patience and got more occupied in our busy lives, text messaging (SMS) and WhatsApp took over. In fact we have become so lazy that we try to shorten the conversations by literally killing every rule of the language.
This reminds of a message I received two days ago from a friend. She is supposed to fly in to my hometown soon and I keep on forgetting the date. The message said “Dng the chckn”. Even my autocorrect is converting it into checkin, exactly the way I thought the message conveyed its meaning. I got all worried thinking that maybe she was supposed to arrive today. Considering how much I hate talking to someone over the phone, it took me another one hour to eliminate my fear, so I called her up and asked what she really wanted to write. She told me she was going to make chicken for the first time and she was in so much hurry that she wrote “Dng the chckn”. That literally fucks up all the grammar and spelling rules. All I said to her was, “Don’t ever do this to me”.
It is okay to be precise if you really are bad at writing long sentences, but at least be grammatically correct. Abbreviating and shortening every other word is like massacring the soul of the language, whichever language you write in.
Coming back to this lost form of writing, letters have even been popular as a discreet mode of communication. I would like to quote an example of my grandfather here. Nobody in our family knows Urdu other than him. So he would write letters in the language to his friends and some of us who were too curious always kept wondering what really they discussed about that had to be so discreet.
Now, there is yet another role letters have played which is in the form of love letters. I am sure they are still in use, the only difference being that kids these days put sparkling heart and star stickers onto them to confess what for them is love. I remember watching some movies where a soldier would write to her darling only to receive words of love and affection in return. Being a sort of poet myself, I have always felt excited thinking about how poets would express their feelings for their beloved. It just reminds me of a quote I saw in the morning that said, “If a poet loves you, you will never die.” I guess because they will keep you alive in the words they knit out of love. Alright, I guess I am too much of a romantic.
The thrill of writing a letter or receiving one remains unparalleled. I don’t want to make the article morose by discussing about the letters that carry uneventful news sometimes.
Letters are written expressions, specially for those of us who fail at speaking their heart out. And for yet others, who cannot really put even one sentence on paper, even if they are able to write, “Keep smiling”, doesn’t it mean a lot? I guess it does.