The last mile

The telegram service, which brought news of all hues, comes to an end on July 15.

July 14, 2013 12:06 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:38 pm IST

A View of Telegraph instrument at BSNL Head Office

A View of Telegraph instrument at BSNL Head Office

“Not having a sibling, nor a heir to light my pyre, I walk silently to meet my end on the ides of July. What wrong did I do to be orphaned at this moment, when the ‘doc’ announced that I should meet the sad end thus?” The slow but painful walk to the doomsday would indeed be punctuated with yesteryear memories.

I had brought news of all hues… good and bad, sad and glad. I had traversed the length and breadth of the country, into far-off land including no-man’s-land. The soldiers at the frontier did use me to announce their happy return home. The news reached their kith and kin who were in joy and tears. I had brought cheer to the families of new borns. Had also wished the newly-weds, spot on — not a day soon nor a day after.

With my most sought-after template wishes — 8 & 16 — I brought smiles from miles away to the just-marrieds. In the same breath, I did bring joy on placement offers with no ambiguity, with no message drops and with no disconnects. Corporates gave me a ‘gram’ address, but now do not know where I am headed to.

I earned a place among the hon’ble judges who treated me with the utmost respect, much to the chagrin of my contemporaries who never made it to their books. The men in khaki never grudged the Morse-coded messages as a burden and willingly carried me — be it dust or heat, rain or shine. Neither famine nor hurricane could block my haste to the destination.

I also did carry news of the departed. People did preserve me with dignity. I found my shelter, preserved for posterity, among the pages of the Bible, the Koran, and the Gita. At times, I was received with shock and disbelief, often drenched in tears — both of joy and despair. How I wished, nay yearned, I could speak when, after reaching the destination, it was difficult for the reader to decipher the contents. I had seen the recipient rushing to the lettered neighbour — that was the time when I wished that my creator bestowed on me the gift of speech.

And now I slowly walk to my place to ‘Rest In Peace’, with none to mourn, none to grieve, none to light a candle. I do hope that someone down there gives the light of hope to my life. Or, will someone send a telegram? But to whom?

( The writer’s email: stephen_arulraj@ )

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