Mirza Ghalib has written: “Chand Tasweer-e-butan chand haseenon ke ‘khuttot’, baad marne ke mere ghar se yeh samaan nikla.” Few pictures of statues and letters of cute damsels were all that could be recovered from my house after my death. It was true till the latest electronic gadgets stormed the new world and changed the entire game of correspondence. Now we type and press the buttons of mobiles; we write, we save and we delete. If Ghalib comes back to life today, he has to retrieve his mails and look for his non-existent Facebook. We no more write anything. Pen is used for signatures and Inkpot is a nuisance.
Calligraphy has always been an art classes. However, people were known and respected for their style of handwriting. The receivers used to recognize the sender with the writing style of address on envelope or postcard. A crow calling in the morning from the branch of a neem tree in the ‘sahan’ or wall of the house would be a presage of the arrival of a letter. The family would wait for the postman with abated breath. The door-call of a postman was music for ears. Fifteen minutes before the expected arrival of the postman, a kid or a retired male member of the family would wait outside for him. ‘No letter’ would not bring tears but a shock that would take minutes if not hours to recover.
Times have changed. Ask a youth when was it that the last time he had sent someone he loved a hand-written letter? In this age of instant and fast constant connectivity of text messaging, letter writing has all but a forgotten and forsaken errand. Who has the time for it? “What is the fun in writing a letter with your pen? Why to waste time when we have better options available?” And yet, perhaps because of this indifference only, the art of the ‘written letter’ is even more important these days.
Electronic Greeting Cards have eliminated to need to scribble one’s signature. The new timers don’t realize that writing letters is a wonderful way to reflect and connect. They did never get the feel of the immense happiness it gives to receive a handwritten letter. Taking the time to sit down and write to a friend helps to slow down the pace of hectic with positive reliefs. It becomes a spiritual experience. New initiatives and new prospective develop while you write a letter.
E-mails, impersonal telephonic talk or even Skype dialogues reflect the rush of life and the inability to pause. It proves to ourselves how smart and fast we’re while the flip side of these means demonstrate how least we think, care or bother about others.
May I suggest you to sit down; spend some time with pen and paper; think of a friend or relative- may be your own parent; someone who had been a great benefactor of you once; someone who had inspired you in life; someone who might have shaped your life; someone you have loved and forgotten and try to write a few lines. The tears in your eyes would compel you to write more.
Think of the letters written by Mirza Ghalib. How poor Urdu language would have been without his letters. How much knowledge our beloved Prime Minister Pandit Nehru had given to the world with his ‘Letters To My Daughter Indra Gandhi?’ You must be aware that every letter of Mahatama Gandhi was a new message, a clarion call to improve the dignity of human race. Letter writing is an emotional, spiritual, intellectual and pleasing activity. Had they used e-mails, some virus by now might have destroyed the greatest treasure of our national lives.
Electronic letters play havoc with emotions. BTW becomes by the way, TKA becomes tum kab aoge and FF becomes facebook friend. Grammar is thrown out the window and etiquette is gracing the dustbin of manners, too archaic now.
Reading old letters opens the floodgate of nostalgia, a pleasant break from excruciating painful of humdrum life. Don’t underestimate the power of the pen. Find a comfortable place and write the author of this article if want a genuine and lovely response !