The Lost Art of Letter Writing

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

I have a box of letters hidden in my cupboard. Crumbly papers shoved in faded envelopes, and lots of misplaced nostalgia occupy space. I have none of the letters I wrote.

The art of retrievement of a letter you send to someone is akin to stealing. It was sent by you, it contains a part of you, but it’s not meant for you.

Instead, I have replies with which I can piece together my own life, snippets of it which I glean from polite responses.

Beautiful Indian letter boxes, a spillover from colonial times

My grandfather’s are breezy responses to my childhood regurgitations. The gentle chastising of my teachers who lost my notebook. The pat on my back for my joyous descriptions of my holiday to Dalhousie. The warm encouragement that my messy handwriting was improving.  The gentle reminder to study since I was in the final year of school and rather than writing letters, I should be burning the midnight oil.

Then those of my best friend, who relocated seven seas away. Letters of apology for not writing too often. But always with a valid reason. Responses that over the years showed the widening chasm in our lives. Me here; she there. And a whole world of fading memories in between.

Postcards to my heart

The gorgeous stamps

What’s it about letters that stirs something in our hearts? That warm feeling of ripping the envelope open and rifling through the pages.

Delicate onion paper, sometimes scented. A gliding ink pen, like my grandfather used. Signing off with a flourish. The slow scrawl of life.

Letter writing is a tender art form.

Its a repository of feelings that you’re sharing with only another person. It’s the most intimate form of communication in the past. What you’ve penned to paper, sealed and sent, can never be erased. It is to remain till the sepia-tinted papers crumble away.