Communication is very important. It is the key to understanding between people. Through the years, communication has evolved a sea change. The way people communicate with each other today is entirely different from pre-historic era. Earlier communicating was limited to interpersonal interaction-person to person. Until it evolved to alphabets, signs and symbols, letters and telephone.Today, the internet era has paved the way to innumerable means of communication.Writing letters is a forgotten art these days. People prefer exchanging messages through e-mails, SMS and Whatsapp now, but I believe nothing can replace the old charm of writing letters to friends, relatives and even pen-friends.The yellow postcard and blue inland letters were once an integral part of life. But they have lost their popularity, largely in Urban India, after the invasion of e-mail and instant messaging, robbing us the charm of writing on paper.If communication means in India have grown by leaps and bounds over the years and have become hi-tech, the humble post card and inland letters have played striking and substantial roles in our earlier lives, carrying a personal touch and helping develop emotional binds.They instantly evoke feelings of iconic red post boxes that were once close to our hearts and stood majestically on the streets, displaying the clearance of letters. Most of us cannot forget that we used to rush to the post boxes in our streets and hand over letters to the postal assistants, when they take letters to the post office in gunny bags.Writing letters was an emotional experience since it was done with love, care and warmth. It was the perfect opportunity to express feelings and emotions. The thrill of receiving a letter was wonderful. It was awaited with much enthusiasm and postman’s arrival was looked forward to by everyone.Postman got respect in those days and people would stop them on way eager to know if there was any letter for them. He was considered an extended member of the family, a bridge between two ends delivering of letters, many orders and registered mails. If someone can’t read, he would also read out letters. Many would have heard about Bhim Bahadur Tamang who trudges through metres of snow at a height of 14,000 feet to deliver mails across the border pass of Nathu La in Sikkim.Letters have played an important part in several of our films. A letter found in the end changes the climax; the letters were intercepted by villains and replaced by a fake once for some devious purpose.Similarly letters remain a part of our film songs. Many hit songs were based on letters and postman. ‘Khat likh de Sawariya ke Naam Babu, Kore Kagaz pe Likh de Salam Babu, Woh Jon Jayeenge’, ‘Dakiya Dak laaya’, ‘Likhe jo khat tumhe’, ‘Phool tumhe bheja hai khat mein’ etc.These songs and many more add to the warmth and personal touch of handwritten letters.The other day, I came across old letters and post cards while clearing my wardrobe.The first few letters I found were written by me to my parents from Boarding school in Nagrota. Hostellers regularly wrote letters to their families. Going through these letters made me emotional.I loved reading them again after ages. Most of my letters told my parents about my participating in plays and public speaking competition. They often ended with the sentence and a question, “I am missing you, when will you come to meet me.”I remember how we children kept waiting for a reply from home. Every week, I would ask my housemaster if there was any letter for me, when we the hostellers used to receive letters from home or friends, our excitement knew no bounds, we felt special and would read theletters over and over again. We would keep the letter in our favourite books. We used to get one inland letter every week from our housemaster and there was a period prescribed for writing letters to our dear ones every week.Sadly, not many like writing letters these days. Despite the advanced modes of communication, I realise that letters are for prosperity.Nothing feels more special than a handwritten letter. The era of e-mails and instant messages may have replaced the good old letter writing, but there is something more authentic and creative about someone pouring their heart on a crisp piece of paper. It is still a treat to receive a letter from someone.Sunil Vaid
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