Writing letters is a challenge…. or is it? Not for me, it never has been. When I have something to say it just flows out of me naturally (at least it has, so far), unless of course it is a formal one, in which case you may find me pulling out tufts of hair in despair. I know a lot of people, too many in fact, who find things the other way around. They are all for writing official letters that they even send you dry official sounding letters in place of personal ones, what in my book is referred to as a ‘weather report’: All fine here. We are having a hot spell. How is everything? Did you have rains? You know the sort of thing I am talking about. How boring. *Yawn*
In bygone days, I was a letter writer par excellence. When you stay in the hostel, letters are what keep your spirits high, that is apart from the food packets that are sent from home. I hit upon a simple truth quite early on. To receive letters one had to write them first, unless they were from love lorn suitors. They of course wrote to you whether you replied to them or not. Once I had the ‘good’ fortune to get one such letter whose sender did not reveal himself. You can guess the flutter that caused in a 15 year old. How maddening to receive a letter strewn with ‘how beautiful your hair looked’ ‘what a lovely smile,’ and ‘how your eyes twinkled’ and not know the sender’s identity! Another followed, then another, and the mystery still remained unsolved. It took the fourth letter for the teenage Miss Marple to pick an inadvertently left clue and home in on the culprit and …..promptly lose all interest, and drop the matter pronto. So disappointing, eh?
So, as I was saying, I spent a lot of time writing letters as a teenager. How? I had lots of pen-pals. In fact I feel I kept in touch with the many pen-pals only so that I could get as many letters as possible. It is one of my pen-pals who started me off on Wodehouse. I can never thank him enough for the good deed he did all those years ago. I still remain a die-hard fan of the one and only PGW. All this meant that I was the envy of others. “Omg, this girl gets letters daily!” I remember smugly expounding my theory to such as them, ‘To get letters you gotta write them’! I am glad they did not bang the fattest library book with a hardcover down on my head then and there. Phew. Narrow escape, I say.
Anyway all that letter-writing stood me in good stead in later years when the L & M entered my life. An infantry man has forever to stay separated from his family. With no mobile phones or internet in those ancient times, our only means of staying in touch was letters. We had a letter a day, policy. The postman was our most favorite person; no one was awaited as much as him. Wherever I have stayed, after a few months of daily dropping in, the postmen were the ones downcast if they did not have a letter to deliver. They’d tell me almost apologetically, ‘No letter today, Ma’am” I guess it must have been the same for the L & M. I can just imagine the sahayak telling him, “Aaaj chitti nahi hai, Saahib.” But then our postal system being what it is, there were days when 3 or 4 letters would arrive together. Bonanza time! Imagine the daily letters going on for years and years together. We ended up with a trunk full of letters which we carted from place to place, whenever we moved, and which we finally and ceremoniously burnt a couple of years back, now that we are staying together at one place.
I have not written a decent letter worth its name in recent times. Like I told someone recently, I doubt I have the ability to communicate so well any more, though the blog page does take care of that to some extent. Well, I wouldn’t know unless I try, would I? So all this rambling about letters ultimately leads to the fact that I (along with Count Bawa) have taken up a month long challenge of writing letters. So from tomorrow on-wards I will be following the list on the 30 DAY LETTER CHALLENGE page, and writing one letter per day to each of those mentioned. It goes without saying that it is going to be all fictional, dished out from the ample and fertile imagination I have. Just in case you recognize yourself in it, by God, it could indeed be addressed to you! But don’t get your hopes too high on that count only to have it dashed. I like fiction much better than fact. 😉
So here’s to 30 days of letter-writing, starting from tomorrow.
Updated on 01/08/2014
I am taking a leaf out of my Bro’s page (this challenge is all thanks to him, anyways) and updating this post to add the list for the 30 Day Letter Challenge. Individual posts will be linked here as and when they are written.
2. Your Crush
3. Your parents
5 . Your dreams
6. A stranger
30. Your reflection in the mirror
Oh by the way, did you know that I have written a story on letters? You will find it here: Scrisorile.
©Shail Mohan 2014