Sunday, March 31, 2013

Handwritten Letters

One of the earliest memories I have is walking with my dad to the Post Office, hurrying to catch up with his long steps. The visits to the Post Office bored me, but I kept myself entertained with the sweets that my dad would get me from the newsagent's on the way and an occasional don't-step-on-the-cracks game.

Those days, nobody had the luxury of sitting back on a bed or a sofa tapping away messages that will reach anywhere across the world in a split second. Before the internet came, people had to get up and go get things done, as foreign as that sounds today. This meant having to go to the Post Office. Actually writing down a letter neatly, getting the spellings right the first time. Putting it in an envelope and sticking a stamp on. Printing your recipient's actual location on the front, smiling at the funny street names. Then carefully handing in your envelope like a mother leaving her dressed-up kid on a very long bus route alone.

Later on, when my dad left to live abroad, it was handwritten letters that would keep us in touch. Just like there was a Homework Time, Fruit Time and Bed Time, there was a Writing Letters to Dad Time where my sister and I would sit on the dining table by the window, surrounded by markers, coloured and glitter pens, stickers and any other random thing we wanted to add, and carefully make our letters, with my mother on hand to help us write a line or two in Arabic. On Eids and birthdays we'd get greeting cards, and sometimes, chocolate tubes and ketchup sachets (yes, for some reason, mini-ketchup packets really excited us). I would tear off stamps and collect them in a stamp album. Sometimes my mom would come back from the Post Office with fresh stamps for my collection. Soon I had around three hundred, the special ones with Quentin-Blake illustrations (!) at the front.

I still have that stamp album. I don't think it's a thing to be proud of but nostalgia defines most of my life. I live in the past and not a day goes by where I haven't looked at old photographs, read past diary entries or browsed through my "Memory" box. I found an envelope in there yesterday that's older than ten years. Inside it was a letter a friend sent me from Pakistan.

Wasn't is so much more special when you'd touch a letter and know this is the same paper they picked out to write to you? When more than what they say is their handwriting eternalising a part of them forever? It's true that the internet and e-mailing have made life easier and more practical, but you can't gain without losing something as equally valuable.


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11 comments:

  1. I totally agree with your love for handwritten letters. I used to have penpals when I was a teenager and it was very meaningful to me. Receiving a letter is like receiving a gift :) I wish we could bring the art of the handwritten letter back!

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  2. I used to love going to the post office with baba too! Opening up the lock for your POBox was the best part and baba would lift me up in the air so I could reach to unlock since I was too short to reach on my own lol.

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  3. Nothing is better than a handwritten letter written now or in the past. I save special letters from friends to re-read and savor. See you on A-Z!

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  4. This is my first A-Z and I am so glad I found you. I write of my father often. His sister still sends me handwritten letters before she'll pick up the phone. Thanks for sharing. Here is a link to my blog. http://yagottalaughaboutit.blogspot.ca/

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  5. I miss writing letters. They were more intimate than emails or messages from social networking sites.

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  6. Letter writing days! ♥ ♥ ♥

    Actually, I was still writing letters last year... the problem was, however appreciated they were, no one wrote back. 'It's hard to have one-sided conversation', as they say, and my parents got exceptionally annoyed that I was spending money on stamps when no one could even bother writing back, so I had to stop. I still wish I had a penpal, though :/ When I start having a personal income, I'd definitely write letters again. We should be penpals, then x)

    Also, I know emails are considered one of the steps to the destruction of beautiful handwritten letters, but nowadays, I cling to them too. I mean, looking at the lesser of two evils, I would rather get a superdy long email then a teensie messages on a social networking site... okay, that's presumption on my behalf, I don't belong to any social networking sites ^_^

    Thanks for this post, I donno, I really liked it. It's warm and fuzzy ♥

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    1. I'd love to be pen-pals with you!

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  7. Oh how I miss receiving personal/handwritten letters/cards! There's nothing like getting them.

    In this world where everything is an instant, where even a phrase has a shortcut and I know that we've never been so connected but this so-called "wired" age lacks the personal touch.

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  8. I remember those days~ Unfortunately, letters never found its way to the persons I send to. XD

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  9. I totally agree with you, having a hand-writted letter is a very precious thing, and even more especiall nowadays. But as someone comented, e-mails may also be like them. With all the insta-message apps, all the social networkings it is also really beautiful when you get a big mail, from someone who cares, someone important.
    And this is the same thing (for me) in the case of books, I will never change a real book for an e-book, it doesn't matter if they are more expensive, but as the book lover I am, I definitelly prefer a real book.

    xx

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  10. LOL! i remember urooj and I always argued about who will put the letter into the box. I cannot fathom what was so exciting about lifting the red lid and sliding one in.but apparantly it was.

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