Okay, so this blog post cheats a little because even though it is about letters I’ve received, I’m also going to write about ones I just received – as photographs. They’re letters that I sent over 18 years ago.
In my previous post, I wrote about the only crossed letter I ever wrote. I just saw a picture of the crossed letter and I realised I got it all wrong. So much for that. A crossed letter doesn’t have upside-down writing; it has writing at 90º to the original text–that’s what makes it crossed. Oh, well here’s my only attempt at a crossed letter, influenced by all the Georgette Heyers I read.
I didn’t read the whole thing, but I was amused by the fact that the parts I liked most in her books were the arguments! And also, now, I wonder how it was to read her books for the first time. That does feel very long ago.
Just like my father, I enjoyed sending out fun newspaper clippings too. Here’s one. Can you read the letter behind it? Doesn’t it look like I’m writing about the Oxford comma and a water raft in consecutive sentences?
These two pictures give me glimpses of what I wrote in my endless letters to friends. Yet, I would say the most interesting letter-based friendship I had was probably with a classmate from school, Mehak. She lived in my building and I knew her as a person for all of two years – when I was in class I and II.
I have no idea if she remembers this, but she was the one who taught me how to tie my shoelaces! That’s why I tie my laces differently from the rest of my family.
Mehak left school after class II. I have no idea what kept us going, but from class II onwards, we wrote scores of letters to each other. We had a Secret Seven club, it seems, from one of her letters. She reminds me that she is still part of the club, even if she’s in another city, far away. That’s hardly surprising, but even a Secret Seven club surely isn’t enough to keep two children exchanging letters for so many years! We kept writing to each other all the way till we graduated, I remember, and then, somehow broke off. I met her once in all this time. Once.
Though I have a hundred other letters (and no, that probably isn’t an exaggeration), none of the others has a story, as far as I can remember. In recent years, I also have (very long) email threads with a few treasured friends. There’s nothing like the joy of a long, beautiful letter, or even email, full of news and ideas and thoughts. When I receive my long emails, I savour them, reading the slowly over and over again and taking my time to respond. Every so often, we change the subject of the email. (If you have over a hundred mails in a thread and you don’t delete trail mails, everything goes a little mad, believe me.) And we keep writing. There’s an intimacy in these letters because of the investment of time and energy and effort.
And still, people ask me why I’m not on WhatsApp. Really?