I’ve written about both Sreeja and her grandparents before. When Sreeja was studying at IIT-Kharagpur, she invited Veda and me to come for Diwali and see the magnificent illumination and rangoli on campus. All the dates went awry and we finally reached Kharagpur the day after the illumination. Oh, well, we saw what was left of it all. And Kolkata was special.
We stayed with Sreeja’s grandparents in Calcutta. They’re exceptionally warm people, who, like so many other Indian grandparents, showed all their love for us through food. This was in 2005. When we got back home, in the way I try to do, I wrote them a letter, thanking them for everything. And the wonderful thing? They wrote back! For once, here’s a picture of the whole letter.
Sreeja was also one of my most regular correspondents. We wrote regularly to each other, pages and pages. At a time when I was devouring Georgette Heyers for the first time, I also wrote my first (and only) crossed letter to Sreeja. It was more effort than it was worth, and finally, utterly pointless, for it was painful to write and painful to read.
More than ever before, I started reusing paper in as many ways as I could. You know all the flyers in newspapers? My father would collect all of them and I would use the non-glossy ones to write letters because most of them were printed on only one side. Once I finished writing five (or was it ten?) sheets, I would find an old envelope, scratch out irrelevant information, put my details in, put my rubber-stamp saying ‘RECYCLE STATIONERY SAVE TREES’, my postage stamp, and off it would go.
Our letters were packages, for all practical purposes. I wouldn’t even wait to receive her next letter before I started writing my next one. But when I got hers, ah, the joy! Letters are special, always!