Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Epistolary saga

Michael teacher, my second grade English teacher has asked us to get a blank Inland 

Envelope Letter. (It was a light blue colour rectangular paper which could be folded like 

an envelope after writing the contents of the letter.)

                                                  Image result for an old inland letter

                                                Image result for an old inland letter

 We obediently and eagerly spread it 

on the writing desk the and she engaged us to write a letter to our 

grandparent/s, of course with little prodding on her side. I took to writing, with a 

pointed Natraj pencil, like a fish to water. I exhausted the given space in no time and 

presented it to my teacher. She nodded and made a few corrections. With a 'chest'-full of 

pride, I showed my first handwritten letter to my father and he encouraged me to 

write a ‘real’ letter to my grandfather residing in Bijapur, Karnataka.

That night I sat down, post dinner to write a letter to my grandpa under my papa’s 

tutelage. The full moon kept me company and sleep did not spread its blanket on me 

that night and we sat late to finish off.

My father sealed the envelope with glue and  the recipient’s address written down.

My joy knew no bounds when I dropped the sealed envelope into the red colour post-box 

near my house.

                                                Image result for An old RED COLOUR Indian POSTBOX

 I shared the earlier night's episode with my classmates but none seemed to reciprocate 

my feelings. My child-like mind could not comprehend the lack of mutual sharing 

of happiness of my premier foray into letter-writing, an important mile-stone of my life.

My eyes strained to catch a glimpse of the khaki-colour uniformed post-man whose burlap 

sack was bursting at its seams with envelopes of all shapes and sizes. He would drop the 

letters with care and proceed to the next house. He was a regular feature around two in 

the afternoon, the time reserved for siesta. I loved to receive letters and many a times 

the khaki uniform feet did not make a halt at my door. I would console myself that I 

would definitely receive something the next day.

I had graduated from the Natraj Pencil to blue ink pens in my Secondary School.

                                        Image result for Natraj pencil

My two pen-pals, both from diverse backgrounds from two different countries kept my 

burgeoning interest and enthusiasm alive by sending the postman to my doorstep 

frequently. We wrote about each other’s cultures, festivals, gastronomical delights and 

mundane matters . I was thrilled when the contents of the packet revealed a Pound 

currency note. An Indian Rupee note was dispatched from my side to acquaint her with 

my nation’s currency system. A rainbow of colors spread in my heart and there was a 

spring in my walk.

The Junior college saw me growing taller and mature . 

I visited my home-town, Bijapur, for the final rites of my grandfather. A close relative of 

 reminded me of my maiden letter written to my grandpa as a little girl and further 

shared of my grandpa's glee on receiving a hand-written letter from his first grand-child. 

My eyes could not hold the emotion and the dam burst. The indifference experienced at 

the hands of my classmates was wiped away with the salty outpourings. 

Stepping into adulthood and juggling  the twin responsibilities of running a household 

in my marital home and my professional duties I continued to give updates of my life to 

my parents and sibling  through my pen and it was a relief hearing from their side. Those 

were the days of pre-pay-phones days and phones had not yet mushroomed on every 

nook and corner of the streets. Moreover a long emotional chat burned a big hole in the 

pocket and I wisely  confined myself to writing exhaustive letters.

I noticed the light grey strands on my mom’s head, the approaching tell-tale sign of old 

age. This was not the only indication. Her writing in the letters showed a subtle 

difference which was not missed by my keen eyes. The alphabets were not in their usual 

shape, the spacing between two words was erratic. I realized that all is well on her 

health front. When gently asked, she complained of mild stiffness in her joints.Arthritis 

was slowly corroding her joints.

At times a sentence abruptly halted manifesting a change in her continuity of thoughts. I 

urged her to visit the family physician regularly. This way I kept track of her ailments.

A lot unsaid was said through her flow of ink . It is difficult to accept my mother's

approaching old age and simultaneous thought of my ‘ageing’ too.

With the proliferating of cell phones, the Sun on the epistolary saga has set on the 


On my last visit to her,  a few months ago I saw her making a list of grocery items and it 

was a pleasure nay a privilege to see her alphabets resemble my writing in K.G. I lightly 

admonished her to practice and improve her dots and curves. Life has come to a full 

circle, I realized. And I smiled inwardly.

I now call her up five times a week and with a change in her voice can gauge the coughs 

and colds surrounding her.

            Readers, do share with me about your letter-writing experiences.


Notes : Secondary school starts from 5th grade to 10th grade.

The postman's uniform was a khaki coloured dress and a cap.

K.G. - Kindergarten. 

Natraj pencil - a brand of pencil.

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