The Missing Link

Ashok Sharma
We are living in the fast changing world where technology is ruling the minds of the people.It is not uncommon to find people-young and old, poor and rich, boys and girls always glued to their mobile phones for texting,browsing, playing games etc.They may have hundreds of friends on the facebook but few in the real world.Personal communication has been reduced and physical interaction diminished a lot.Handwriting, paper, letters etc are drifting from our lives in the days of phones, emails and text messages .Gone are the days when people used to write letters to their friends and relatives scribbling their innermost and profound thoughts and secrets and would wait anxiously to their replies.Those were the times when letter was the only medium of communication and there was no birth of social networking sites such as whtsapp and facebook.Letter-the piece of paper containing the message of the writer would either be sent in the envelope of yellow colour or written on the blue Inland letter or post card.
People,being sentimental and emotional in those days, having strong interpersonal skills,would share their thoughts, feelings and ideas with their near and dear ones by writing in ink or fountain pen of holder.As the letter was received by the recipient, he/she would feel the love and affection of the writer calligraphed beautifully on the paper, the style and language which could be felt so deeply that tears would well up in the eyes of the reader.In fact, the words penned down beautifully and chosen carefully would speak their meanings and emotions more clearly and loudly than the tongue of the speaker.
The reader would appreciate and feel the penmanship, delicate curves and calligraphy of the sender and felt grateful and attached to the sender.Containing the message of the family, the Inland letter would wring the heart of the soldier serving at some border or make him proud of his children’s performance or acquaint him about the improvement in health of his aged parents.And the members of the family of soldier too would wait for the reply to their letters from their brave soldier and the instant it came, all of them would sit together to listen to the contents of the letter.The lovers would write their letters in deep secrecy and solitude, hide them for days together and then exchange at the right time.Some would sum up their feelings in a few lines while others would write lengthy description of their pangs of separation.’I made my letter unusually long because I had little time to make it short’says a writer because it is difficult to express one’s maximum thoughts and feelings in minimum words.The space would sometimes fall short of expressing ones feelings and post script would be written.The letters would read as if the sender was just sitting in front of the reader and his emotional face would appear before the reader with the feeling that he /she was special to someone.The touch of the paper and the priceless and inexpressible feeling that one has at the time of opening a wellcrafted handwritten letter can’t be had by reading the same words in an email.Children studying away from home would request parents for sending money or the sister sending raakhi to her brother serving in the Defence Forces or elsewhere or wife’s emotional letter to her soldier husband often ending with the words’ When will you come?’would melt the hardest heart.
Some illiterate wives would ask their educated relatives to write letters for them and their innermost feelings remained unexpressed.The handwritten letters by great people like Rabindera Nath Tagore, Mahatama Gandhi, Bhagat Singh etc are a treat to to the eyes and minds of the reader.Though many means of communication have now been invented, one feels nostalgic and emotional to recall those days when the handwritten letters ruled the world.
But it is sad that the handwritten correspondence is virtually dying a slow death in the midst of emails and social networking sites.Therefore, we must not just mourn the sad demise of this priceless art but take effective measures to keep this tradition alive.It is an art worth bringing back not because of nostalgia but to convey one’s deepest thoughts, gratitude, ardent love and other profound emotions.Sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someone’s door.Young children need to be encouraged to write ‘Thank You’letters for the gifts they get from their parents, relatives and friends.Instead of throwing our old letters, they should be treasured and read and reread to relive our old memories Students must not be encouraged to mug up letters; they ought to be trained in the art of writing beautiful letters in elegant style and language and then suitably rewarded.Letter writing may be comatose and near its death but it is our duty to promote this priceless art.The feeling of the ink from the pen touching the stationary and fingers moving on the paper and then finishing the letter, putting it in an envelope and sealing it with the saliva has its own beauty and sense of togetherness.And visualising the paper that was lying on the sender’s desk now sits on another is the most sublime that one can have.The visualisation of the sender writing, holding, sealing nand posting the letter and the recipient handling the letter forms a connection,which modern means of communication cannot form.The collection of old letters is a valuable treasure which our kids can read,know historical and family record.
Handwritten letters are the window of our past and thus,a much better legacy to leave for our children than username and email accounts.Therefore if the parents want their kids to write a letter, they should write a letter.Though snail mail has fallen out of favour with the people, we can adopt sending the letter by post because we have now good stationery, fountain pen, adhesives etc.So start writing the handwritten letters and you will get them back.A letter is but a talk on paper.So we have to be careful while eriting a letter and adopt original style of writing and avoid stereotyped phrases and be respectful to superiors, courteous to juniors,familiar to friends, affectionate to relatives.
Write as you would talk.Let your letter speak the language of your heart, reflex of your aspirations, your joys and your disappointments.Letters should be free from erasures and is your mirror and keep it clean and cheerful as you would look in the mirror.It shows the sender’s investment of time and effort in friendship and must be valued and treasured.Let us revive this dying art and relive our ppast when handwritten letters would convey much more than the sender himself could convey through his voice.
(The writer is serving as lecturer in English,
Govt. Hr.Sec. School, Thial, Udhampur)