Bombay Duck Mag – An Online Bengali webmag first published this article in their Monsoon issue
Life’s funny and unpredictable; just like our wishes. I wished for something for long; and now that it’s turned true, I am not sure if this is what I asked for. I am certain the one above who holds all the strings has played a mean and terrible joke.
You may think of me as senile, and it may seem like I am rambling for no particular reason, but I am not. Let me start from the very beginning.
Belonging to a connected, and ‘well-travelled’ family, someone had already charted out the future of all generations. I was to follow the footsteps of my fore-fathers. Connecting lives and creating memories; well, that’s all my family lived for. I had grown up hearing tales of how my ancestors travelled from one corner of the world to another, carrying joyous news of a birth, promotion or a wedding. They connected lovers torn apart, and families living all across. Sometimes they were even the harbinger of sad news.
I am part of the prestigious Letter family, and this is my confession. I’ve brought immense sadness to myself and my brethren.
Unlike my ancestors, I didn’t want to lead a regular life, doing mundane things. My dreams and aspirations were different. I loved my unblemished skin far too much to be filled with scribbles. And the thought of being folded in half and stuck inside an envelope gave me the heebie-jeebies. You may think of me as vain and selfish. But, don’t judge me my friend. You would not know the pain because you have not experienced it.
Imagine being packed like sardines in a can and plonked from one shelf to another. Well, that’s how my ancestors travelled – ripped apart from the family, shoved in an envelope and gone forever from home. They didn’t travel in luxury; but yet were happy. I think they gained joy in bringing people together.
My forefathers would travel by sea or rail. A few luckier ones even got to touch the skies, but it was not a rosy picture either.
A gunny sack was their fate. Oh! Such a pitiful plight!
Stuffed inside, one on top of another and tied tight.
Dumped in containers, they travelled day and night!
Forgive me, but boredom has made me lose control, and often I break into a song.
Anyway, let me come back to my story.
We, the Gen22, had had enough! I sowed the seeds of rebellion in my siblings and cousins. We didn’t want to undergo all that pain and suffering just to make you humans happy. I convinced my siblings we were born to do better things in life. We didn’t want to be scribbled upon, shunted around, or get discarded in the bin.
The Letter family deserved to be treated with respect. We had our own dreams, and our own path to follow.
Sigh! Now that I look back to that day, it fills me with sadness. I have brought about this calamity upon all of us.
We had dreamt of a bright future, not a solitary confinement. It was foolish to think we had any actual powers over you.
Your people just ignored us and moved on to fancier beings. WhatsApp, Twitter and Email–these impersonal, cold means have taken our place.
Now that I lie abandoned, I wish to seek forgiveness and get a second chance.
Let me tell you what you are missing.
The youth of today will never experience the thrill of holding a pen and pouring out secrets on paper. How will you know the joy of receiving a loved one’s handwritten letter?
The message through these means reaches their receivers much faster, but do they carry the tears of parted lovers? Do they have the fragrance of mountains, seas, or flowers? Do you see your loved one in the words on the screen?
You have forgotten us, and the art of writing letters. But then, do I pity you or us? We dreamt of walking on a path different from our ancestors. Never did we realize, at the end, was oblivion, a never-ending sea of loneliness. And now we lay forgotten, erased from hearts and memories.
I just wish to go back to the day and undo the sadness which I have unleashed.
I wish I could live the life my forefathers led. I spend my days and nights waiting for the moment when someone would take me out of the pad, write on me, fold me in half and send me away. Even if I am packed like a sardine can, I promise you will not hear me complain.
We just want to live, spread happiness, connect lives and see the world once again. Our death is a loss to all.
I have opened up my heart and page to you with the hope you’ll not let the letter family die a sad and lonely death.
P.S – How about starting a Twitter campaign #Reviveletterwriting? I know what you are thinking… I am seeking the help of my arch nemesis, but then desperate times call for desperate measures!