I had come home for Diwali and was helping my grandma sort her things out. She had spread on the bed, all her stuff from the old tin box, she had brought with her after her wedding as dowry. And boy! What a treasure it contained. While shuffling through things, I came across old jewellery, her photographs, small antique glass showpieces and various other things which would be worth a fortune today. Her twinkling eyes while she recounted every story attached to the things, explained the value it contained for her, which she had kept so close to her heart for all these years. I was trying not to be astonished by the treasure she kept safely for all the tumultuous years of her life when I caught hold of few pieces of tattered paper that made her blush. My grandma blushed! Like a newlywed bride. And why would she not, after all, they were the love letters she had written to my grandpa in her courtship period. They were written in ink and so were smudged but still smelt of immense love it must have been shared with.
On little cajoling, she started narrating her love story that seemed much better than mine in this technology-driven world. She told me that she used to write a letter to my grandpa every month after they were engaged. Those were the times when they could only exchange letters through posts and so often she had to wait for months for my grandpa’s letter. And those days of waiting went in a euphoria of excitement, anxiety and longing for their love.
By the nostalgia she carried in her eyes, I could see the purity of her love and the sanctity of the relationship they shared. I could sense the excitement of waiting for the letters and the weight each word those letters contained. I could see the pain of the separation and the joy of the news of the arrival of those letters had. I could feel the blossoming of their love in those letters. A love which was beyond statuses and relationship posts. That was a love which was not tainted by technology and not killed by the urgency of the comments and blue ticks. A love which was a slow addiction. It grew slowly and never left them.
While listening to her story, the flashes of mine surfaced before my eyes. A love story which might have been successful if we had not relied so much on technology. If we would have also passed it through the test of time, patience and love letters.
It is because my love story, like every other in this technology-driven society, was subject to how well we connected digitally, how fast we repled to each other’s messages, how many likes and comments we got on our posts and how often we posted updates about our relationship. It feels stupid today that those were the disgusting metrics we had put to judge our relationship and how wrong we were.
Breaking my chain of thoughts, my grandma asked me, what she thought of the letters. Little envious and dejected, I replied what I felt I could have saved my relationship, that her love is the purest kind I have come across, that her love is not maligned by social media and messages. That her love is not determined by the times they called each other or the time they talked to each other through phone calls or messages. That her love had passed the test of time, and the glow on her face revealed the immense love she still had for grandpa, as a teenager.
I told her about my love story (which she was aghast to hear, being unaware it) which was ruined because of technology. How we met through a dating app, and how we started dating just because we found our social media profiles interesting. She was obviously astonished to know that we would chat for hours and still had more fights than she ever had with grandpa. We broke up because we did not have any patience to personally meet and resolve our issues. Instead a few nasty and rude WhatsApp conversations ruined everything. That we had no eagerness left to meet as a video call substituted meeting in person. And finally, because we were connected on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and all other social media apps you can think off. But somehow, somewhere, our own connection reduced and finally faded away.
I had always considered technology to be a boon for mankind, but after I met my grandpa through grandma’s letters, I realised we miss out the beauty of the pre-technology era. We miss the excitement of listening to each other’s voice after days of waiting. The purity of love letters somehow is not present in the messages of social media apps, and in the spree of knowing everything about each other as soon as possible, we miss the mystery cocooning our love. Love in the age of internet can be called a developing benefit as we can communicate more often. However still, a little excitement and mystery can be maintained when we are eager to unfold each other’s personalities, over time with patience and perseverance.
After all, someone has rightly said, “Don’t lose what is real, chasing what only appears to be.”