Amongst the scanty daily post delivered to my office [usually registered official letters], a small postcard was received. The fazed glassy-eyed receptionist carried the insignificant looking dispatch to my office, handing it to me rather apologetically. I’m guessing, she was afraid of calling my attention to something suspectedly unworthy. It was a picture postcard for a Diwali greeting- I smiled with obvious pleasure. That’s the only greeting I remembered- it had a feel, and the thoughtfulness, unlike the hurried notifications of emotionless, copied-forwarded, and overused messages deposited on my phone.

I took a memory trip on the blurring imageries of the idle red Post-Boxes that now stand almost retired; the neglected Letter-Boxes, accustomed to the rote passovers, lodged within the front walls of the houses; the near extinct ink pots, letter knives, writing pads, postcards, and inlands; the dying frenzy of postage stamp collectors; and the missing ink- the letters written by hand and sent through the post. With Whatsapp reigning in as the contemporary tycoon of the essentials of digital life, the post mail preferences seem so antiquated, slow and counteractive to the supersonic electronic communications.

To the iGen [those born after 1996] a ‘Postman’ probably is the most un-awaited somebody in their lives, while our biological clocks sent out mental alarms in the early afternoon hours for the deliverer to bring in intimations from the outside world. I’m reminded of the song ‘Please Mr. Postman’ by The Marvelettes in 1961, where the lyrics give out the urgency of a young girl for the postman to bring news of her boyfriend, “There must be some word today, from my boyfriend so far away…. I’ve been standin’ here waitin’ Mister Postman, so patiently, for just a card, or just a letter…” And then, so many love affairs thrived on letter-writing, where two began an epistolary friendship that lasted for years, though they never met. A switch from handwritten letters to the cyber mails is characterized in the movies The Shop Around The Corner [1948] to You’ve Got Mail [1998], and what’s trending two decades down the line, that is now, is quite standing out.

Along with the obsolescence of using the traditional post mail, the art of letter-writing for personal communications has been lost over the time. And what has also been lost along the way is a hold on our life-defining virtues. Handwritten letters revealed a character opening a window to the writer’s soul in a way electronic communications never can. The drawn-out exchange of the hand-scripted interchange instilled perseverance, which transpired into a ‘staying power’. Writing letters cultivated the art of personalization, waiting, patience, and endurance, as well as inspired to cling fondly to the experience by prolonging it. The instant messaging and emails, with the blink of the eye, are likegobbling down the food; while the classic letter writing is like chewing the food slowly- the former satiates the hunger but not the soul, while the latter gratifies the soul quite lastingly.

Much in line with this thought, I’m trying to slow down on things I cherish, to savor them longer and stash them in my memories- fond ones. Touching on this, I ordered a subscription [over picking it off the shelf] for the Reader’s Digest magazine today, to give myself the experience of venerating ‘what I want to have’ and then waiting for the postman to hand-carry it to me, the vintage way!