Dear Mummy and Papa,
At the outset I hope these few words find you in the pinkest of health. I am fine and having my meals properly. My studies are also going on well. I have made a few new friends who are very good. We share our tucks and play together.
Mummy, as per your instructions I regularly pray when I wake up and before going to sleep. I have grown an inch since you last saw me. I have also been eating properly and drinking milk every night with Horlicks as you wanted me to.
Please do not worry about anything. I am happy and doing well. I’m looking forward to seeing you during the Puja holidays starting from 31st July. I want you to come to pick me up. Please come if you can make it, as I want you to meet my best friend Akhil. He is very good and always makes me laugh.
Papa, my exams will be starting on 6th July and I have prepared well for it. I am revising the syllabus given to us. I hope to do well and make you proud this time. My teachers are good and they are always helpful. Please bring Mummy along with you for the annual sports day after which our PujaÂ holidays begin on 31st July.
Mini Didi, I miss you a lot and sorry that I took your iPod. When I see it everyday I feel terrible without you. I’ll return it to you as soon as I see you. The songs don’t sound the same anymore without you pulling my hair from behind fighting for the gadget. That’s all that is new. I hope to see you all soon. I miss you all. Lots of love to all of you and Mini Didi please give Bruno a hug from me and tell him that I miss his growls and those saliva drenched licks that I despised earlier.
A random postcard left lying on the ground outside a postbox took me back to where I began learning-The weekly letters with the same boring tone, yet infused with unshakeable love that were mandate for us to pen down. A mild pain started rising from the stomach and reached my heart. I’m still trying to figure out what it was. The colors and the scales of boarding school came rushing back. The letters that were, then, written as a routine, suddenly filled me with regret, my heart wishing, to return and take a bit more interest in writing them. I picked up the post card. It was trampled upon. I thought of re-writing it on a similar card and posting it. I realized then, that just dusting it and re-posting it would be more justified. I then was, filled with a desire to go to a post-office that I had so easily forgotten, in the rush of cell phones and e-mails. The red-brick building all too similar to the one back in the small village that had been a regular hang out zone filled me with melancholy. A few drops picked up pace from the heart and rushed to my eyes. I thought I was perhaps being too sensitive, but then I could forgive myself this one time. I walked into the building. The smell of paper, gum, ink and the khaki greeted me. It all seemed new, for I had been so far away from them, for so long now. I just paced around the counters trying to recall the corners and the sections that I frequented. The stamps were all new yet the letters there were all the same. Speed-post had been introduced and I was surprised that people still queued up to deposit money in a post-office. Letters written, were few as one of the “babus” told me, when I enquired. The most work that they do is maintaining the old records and do courier services.
Letters that came in were few and mostly business related. I glued the postcard back, dusted it and posted it. I’m sure it would bring home the message to the recipient better than what a call or message could from your cell phone. I sat down and wrote a few letters, myself. It felt good, though my mind ached from me stretching it too far to find words to fill up those pages. Nonetheless, it felt good and in a long, long time I felt content. I would return and try to bring back the letters and the world of words back to my life, I vowed hoping that someone, just one person, out of the mindless virtual world would pick up that letter and read.
I was just one of the few hundred students who left their parents, relatives and friends behind to study, earn and live the usual life. Even today, I spend 4745 hours annually into those books which upgrade my mind but drain those precious moments out of my life. It is not what I regret, yet somewhere, I feel incomplete. Though there was a thread-like connection between philosophy and me, the dusty old post office at the corner of the street brought all those memories back alive, as if they had happened just yesterday.
Yes, we are the next generation. The generation that is void of feelings. The generation that has chosen internet and cell phones over letters. The generation that takes wise words to be lectures. We are people who know that we have to run in the retrace of the world, without having a trace where we are going. Over the years, I have learnt to switch my mobile off when my mother calls up in the middle of a chat with friends, knowing that there she would not do the same to me. That is what is normal for us. That is what I have become.
However, nothing has changed in the post office apart from new plasters on the worn out wall and the increased laziness. I had the sudden urge to meet Varun. I had absolutely no idea who he was, yet I was spending fifteen bucks to courier his torn letter. I had no links with him, his parents, his sister, his bottle of Horlicks, his iPod or his dog named Bruno; but I felt we shared the same link. Except that mine was broken. Perhaps I could gift him a mobile; or I could ask him why he took pains to write. Maybe he was detached form the world; or maybe I was too modernized. The mail trains carry passengers instead of letters, and the red vans are not even half-filled now-a-days — but the faithful government employees cheerily do their work all the while.
I posted Varun’s letter (though the time span may look to be a hundred years), hoping that it would reach his parents who were eagerly waiting for their son’s letter. Then I walked down the lane with a smile resembling one of those satisfied social workers who has won a 20-year old Environment case.
I was happy to be alive.