I am participating in the 30 Days Letter Challenge where you write one letter each day. The 14th in the list is a letter to ‘Someone you have drifted away from’
Dear Someone I Have Drifted Away From,
We were pen-pals. I got your name and address off one of those magazines popular during our teenage days. You had listed reading as one of your hobbies, and your name sounded somehow right (What a silly reason this one was!). So I chose to write to you. I wrote to many others too who were chosen on similar lines. But it was you I ended up corresponding regularly and for a long time.
In one of your early letters you waxed eloquent on P.G. Wodehouse. ‘Wodehouse who?’ I wondered. I was 15 and did not know who Wodehouse was. Sacrilege. Within a couple of months, one of the Master’s books was in my hands. Summer Moonshine. Or was it Something Fresh? After almost 40 years, I am confused which one it was as I read them both one after the other.
The funny part is, when I started reading that first book that fell in my hands, I hadn’t noticed the author’s name. I had to when I was done with it. So impressed was I. Then realization dawned. No wonder you were so vociferous in the paeans you sang of him. I followed suit (and have been since then). Getting my hands on more of his books, sitting in some corner with my nose buried in it, laughing out crazily at frequent intervals oblivious to the world around, became routine. But then I hear that is a very common and totally accepted behavior among Wodehouse fans.
Your English was impeccable, and your handwriting, neat and lovely. Somehow it gave the impression of someone who deliberated over each of his thoughts and actions. Not the frivolous or impulsive sort. Of course, I am no handwriting expert. It is only what conveyed itself to me. And the content of your letters confirmed the fact. We exchanged news about the place we stayed, our friends, the movies we saw, and most important of all the books we read. In fact my friends in the hostel were really jealous of the regular flow of letters between us. One of them wanted to be your friend as well. I felt a twinge. But then I am NEVER one to stop anyone from having new friends. I passed on your address to her.
When I was done with PUC, I changed colleges. My father was posted to your city. We decided to meet. By then we had found out that we had common relatives and our respective grandmothers had been schoolmates and friends too. You came home one evening. You were a bit reserved, not as voluble as in your letters. Being the host I was obliged to be chirpy or it would have been a Feast of Silence.
Where we had much to share in letters, we didn’t seem to have much going in conversation. Was it because of the difference in our gender and our times were such as to not encourage a face to face friendship between opposite sexes? Or did you find me not to your expectation in person? Or is it the universal truth that those of us who express ourselves well through written words are bad at communicating one to one?
At the time you were done with college if I am not mistaken, and as for me, I had just joined for my degree course. Was it I who got busy with my new college or you with life after college? We stopped writing and simply lost touch subsequently.
Now and then I wonder where you must be, especially since I live in the city that is your hometown. Are you still here or have you moved out? What about your family? Do you have children? Have you grown corpulent or are you still thin as a reed? Have you lost your hair? Or do you have a salt and pepper mop? Most important of all, what all do you read now?
Whenever the topic of Wodehouse comes up I remember you, my erstwhile pen-pal who introduced the Master to me. I have told a number of people of the role you played in my discovering him. But you know the thought that tickles me pink as of now? It is what you’d say if/when you find out that I now write and that I even try my hand at humor. Your nod of approval will certainly bring cheer. Hmm… May be it is time to seriously try and trace you.
Your once-upon-a-time pen-pal.
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Those who are taking part in the 30 Day letter Challenge, please don’t forget to add your links to the linky over at Hrishikesh‘s page.
©Shail Mohan 2014