Bits of Paper

Even today I love to open my ‘box of junk’ as my spouse fondly refers to it as and browse through hundreds of letters and cards stored in it. Chits and bits of papers. I have sheets of notebook paper which I have torn out of my college notebooks. These are filled, not with study notes, but with notes which my friends and I passed to each other during lectures.When I read those notes its as if I am back in Deshmukh Madam’s class, trying to keep a straight face as I read a remark on a cute guy while she explains the causes of the Russian Revolution! I have cards sent through the years by my school friends. For birthdays and anniversaries. I have wedding invitations of my close friends lying in that box for over two decades now. What a plethora of memories lie in those pieces of paper!

When we were school kids, there existed the trend of having pen-friends or pen-pals. These were friends we made from all over the world, based on common likes, via a international youth service organization which helped children to strike up friendships across the globe. The friendships thus formed were totally on paper. In all probability we will never meet our pen friend in this lifetime. But that never stopped us from forging these friendships. I had four such pen pals, and I am still in touch with two of them. I still write to one in the old fashioned way, using a paper and pen. The other has graduated to emails. My children took sometime to understand the whole concept of this kind of friendship. In an age when there are online sites to strike up ‘friendships’ with a purpose and no strings attached, I can quite understand their perplexity at the purpose of a friendship forged through pen and paper, and nothing more.

My youngest sister lives in another city, and she thought up of the idea of communicating with her niece, my daughter, through letters. Good, old, blue tinted sheets of paper, sealed in an envelope with a stamp stuck on it. When I see the glee on my daughter’s face when she arrives from school to find a letter waiting for her, it brings a smile to my face. I remember that the post used to arrive at 11.30 every morning, and I used to hang around the door if I had a holiday from school, to see the letters drop through the letter slot in the door. She writes back to her aunt the same way. It is probably the only time she will connect with the postal system, a dying institution.

There is nothing wrong or right about the way things were done or the way things are done now. Its just that I like some things the old fashioned way.

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