Saturday, September 19, 2015

Of Writing Letters and Pen Friends.

By Sunaina Patnaik at Saturday, September 19, 2015

I was eight when I made a first pen friend. I distinctly remember writing letters and posting them in a red-coloured post box that was a little far from home. I made two more pen friends over a period of time and wrote different letters to the three of them. I loved receiving letters with doodles and smileys on the corner of the letters. Sometimes, they came with shimmering stickers, and they were more loved. One summer vacation, I visited my grandparents. That year was warmer than usual, and the flowers in our garden were blooming better than ever. I began writing letters to my friends -- I wrote to them about how I relished the mangoes and sorbets that my grandmother fed me, and I wrote to them complaining how my brothers never let me play cricket along with them, forcing me to be a silent spectator every time they played. I narrated in detail how much I loved taking early morning walks along the stream and glide past the high walls embraced with colourful bougainvillaea trees. I remember very well, that I suggested them to read Enid Blyton's books which happened to be my latest found love then. I guess I still remember the contents of the letter only because they were the last letters I sent to them. As soon as I returned home after the vacation, my father was transferred to a different city. In the process of worrying about a new school, new uniform, and new classmates, it absolutely slipped out of my mind that I had to inform my friends that I was moving to a different city. What's worse? I lost their addresses too! For a person who moved often, and changed seven schools, losing things wasn't new. But this time, I was rather displeased with my carelessness. Because there was something comforting about writing letters to people whose names and faces were unknown. We had pen names, remember? There was something ethereal about friendships that withstood miles of distance. And there was something funny about describing how your dog would attack the cats and receive a response that talked about such simple things. That is the magic of handwritten letters, I believe. When I was in school, I knew a lot of people who had pen-friends. I read a lot of such stories too, in a magazine called Gokulam, which was pretty popular after Tinkle. I barely see anyone writing letters now. I am afraid, I see no one. The fact that people have forgotten the art of writing beautiful letters makes me cringe. Why did we stop writing letters? Why did we stop describing the beauty of nature in letters to friends who aren't familiar with the weather in our part of the country? We cannot blame WhatsApp and Twitter for this. They still do not warrant the excuse that we stopped writing letters. I could be really selfish when I am hoping one could preserve the lost heritage of writing letters; wondering if we could ever bring back long, handwritten letters into fashion. The joy we derive from reading letters that we've received as children is quite something. I think even when we get old and have a troubling eyesight, there will be nothing more comforting than words and letters that talk so much about our history and the life we lived. 

P.S. This year, I have written three letters and received two.


Alok singhal on 19 Sep 2015, 08:27:00 said...

I feel we connected better in yesteryears...with letter, telegrams and the like.

Nice post...loved it!

Sunaina Patnaik on 19 Sep 2015, 08:39:00 said...

@Alok: Thank you. :)

Rikitha on 19 Sep 2015, 18:23:00 said...

I've never sent or received letters from any of my friends, never had pen friends either..... It might have been so much fun if I had...envy you for that! :p

Sunaina Patnaik on 19 Sep 2015, 23:19:00 said...

@Rikitha: Hey! It's never too late to have one. :)

Reema Saxena on 20 Sep 2015, 11:12:00 said...

Hey Sunaina,

Today I read your first blog and I liked it a lot..

As far as idea of making/having a pen friend goes, it was always one of those thing I fantasised about being a young girl but was always scared to make any.

And see today, making a distant friend is not at all something that is part of your dreams, ...thanks to Social Media platform.

Eagerly looking forward to your next post :-)

I am the LIFE

Sunaina Patnaik on 20 Sep 2015, 11:43:00 said...

@Reema: Hey! Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. I'm glad you liked reading the post. :)

monica malik on 28 Sep 2015, 03:44:00 said...

loved your post.
I don't receive letters because i tell my friends not to post them (privacy issues). But they mail me. And trust me, it's better than whatsapp, facebook and what ever more sites are there for social networking. I barely call them. We just write to each other. elaborated emails, explaining details of what's important to us. and it's just something, i cant explain...
well written..

Sunaina Patnaik on 29 Sep 2015, 00:28:00 said...

@Monica: Thank you! :)

Gurunath on 2 Oct 2015, 23:44:00 said...

I was having friends in Germany, Malaysia, Thailand, France etc.. through Pen friends network when I was in my college days...Its been around15 years now and as there was no social media at that time, I lost few of them in the process of address change or communication delay/gaps etc...Thanks for the wonderful post to reminding my teenage days...:)

Sunaina Patnaik on 3 Oct 2015, 06:54:00 said...

@Gurunath: Glad you liked it. Thank you. :)

NagaRaj Raj on 21 Sep 2016, 02:01:00 said...



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