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Long live the epistle

Letters were the only means of communication before the boom of technology.

Letters were the only means of communication before the boom of technology. | Photo Credit: Getty Images/IStockphoto

Dakiya dak laya, dakiya dak laya”, “ Chitthi aayi hai aayi hai”, “ Humne sanam ko khat likha, khat main likha” and umpteen such songs are a testament of the glorious past of letters. These depict the exuberance and anxiety with which people awaited letters from their loved ones, far away from them. They would sit for long hours at the door, eagerly waiting for a glimpse of the postman.

Letters were the only means of communication before the boom of technology in the latter part of the 20th century and early 21st century. In the present times, no doubt, instant messaging and e-mails are a boon. But in the bargain, handwritten letters have lost their relevance.

The latter part of the 18th century is known as the “Great Age of Letter Writing”, as the Indian postal service was introduced between 1764 and 1766 by the Britishers. It gained momentum ever since. Now, though electronic messages are in vogue, when it comes to receiving letters, nothing can match handwritten ones. They are personalised, and have various advantages.

Extra mile

The writer accords importance to the recipient of the letter, by making the effort to pen down thoughts on paper, seal it in an envelope and walk the extra mile to post it. Writing a letter is an art, wherein a writer spills emotions on paper through carefully chosen words. Words have the power to express love, show appreciation and make a person happy.

Writing a letter helps relieve anxiety and bring peace and clarity of thought to the writer. It acts as a stress-buster.

It helps develop the power of expression as words have to portray exactly and precisely what one wants to express, without leaving any chance of ambiguity.

Letter writing works on many areas such as grammar, style and structure, and most important, handwriting.

Since most of the work these days is done on computer, the importance of having a good handwriting has waned.

The conscious act of writing a letter requires attention without distraction. So, one has to sit with a focused mind. This leads to the development of valuable attributes such as patience and persistence.

Letters act as documentary evidence and can be used to maintain a record of important events. A writer has to be authentic, genuine and sure of what is being written.

Letters are a means to inculcate good manners and values in the younger generation. Writing a “thank you” note or an invitation helps develop them.

Much emphasis is given on the choice of words and language, because a letter once sent cannot be recalled. One has to deliberate on the choice of words. Hence, letters are a means of touching another person in a memorable way, and bringing happiness to them. This keeps the relationship strong as it makes the other person feel valued.

One will pause long enough to write things that actually mattered. Though the idea of staying in touch with your loved ones with just a touch of a finger on the phone is a huge solace in this fast-paced world, yet the emotions in the words are hardly visible.

In today’s time, if we really want to do something special for someone, sending a handwritten letter will be a classy thing to do and will be an equally wonderful surprise for the recipient as well.

shikhashankarbhatnagar@gmail.com


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Printable version | Aug 7, 2022 5:02:16 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-exuberance-of-receiving-letters/article65543716.ece