The letter has been one of the most important forms of communication over thousands of years across many cultures and continents. Whether personal, professional or an open statement of intent it can covey the most intimate messages or declare the most inflammatory of declarations. It can be delivered by hand, by postman, by pigeon, by bottle, by smart phone, by internet connection or even by space ship. It can be cherished, collected, published, censored, blogged, stolen, steamed open, torn up, buried, displayed. It can be written on paper, papyrus, skin, in the sand, in wax, on sweet wrappers and on computer screens. It can be written with quills, pens, keyboards, chalk and in ink, in blood, in lemon juice, in light, with love, with hate, with desperation, with pride, with humiliation and with satisfaction. Correspondingly, it can take seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks or even years to reach its destination, whether sent to someone in the next room, or via a time capsule to people 50 years in the future. A letter is not just the means to communicate to others, but a way in which we communicate who, what and where we are and the times that we live in, consequently, being as much about the interconnectedness of identity, place and culture through time as it is about the immediate connection to those around us.
A striking example of such interconnectedness and entanglement survives from ancient Rome in the Letters to Atticus of Marcus Tullius Cicero written between 68-44 BCE. Originally handwritten on papyri using a reed pen, they were delivered using a network of slaves often taking up to 4 weeks to reach their destination. Intended only to be read by his friend, this private correspondence was published by an unknown editor sometime after Cicero’s death and enjoyed as a literary work. Now available as both book and hypertext, its rich contents provide valuable information on many aspects of Roman life, not to mention the history of his times.
After reading the significance with bit history of letters, a point came in my mind that now the trend of writing letter is diminishing. Words are shortened; slang and colloquial language is preferred.
More people are advancing in the field of technology more trend of E-mail and text messaging is flourishing. What I think is that, though the advance way is fast and one is not supposed to wait for quite a long period for the letter but the emotional attachment is lacking now.
Let’s go back to old times, not too far in the memory but near the time of partition. My friend told me that her grandma used to say that we sometimes waited for weeks for the letters the good condition of health of our relatives and loved ones brought tears in our eyes. We used to shed tears after seeing their handwriting. Now though the message is conveyed but that kind of emotional intimacy is not present there, that sounds like real dilemma to me. The sense of wait and care has its own charms but sigh that will truly be missed by the coming generation.
The lovers used to send messages in very creative ways. While watching movies I got myself amused by those ways. The sweet gesture, the romantic verses, the perfumed letters and stuff were used to worth something.
Once I came across the poem in Urdu named “Khawab” that means “Dream” in English.
اب بھی اس کے خط آتے ہیں
بھیگے بھیگے اور بھینے جادو میں لپٹے
موسم، خوشبو ،گھر والوں کی باتیں کر کے، اپنے دل کا حال
سبھائو سے لکھتی ہے
اب بھی اُس کے سب لفظوں سے کچے جذبے پھوٹ آتے ہیں
اب بھی اُس کے خط میں موسم گیت سنانے لگ جاتے ہیں
اب بھی دُھوپ نکل آتی ہے بادل چھا نے لگ جاتے ہیں
اب بھی اُس کے جسم کی خوشبو ہاتھوں سے ہو کر لفظوں تک
اور پھر مجھ تک آجاتی ہے
اب بھی اس کے خط میں اکثر چاند اُبھرنے لگ جاتا ہے
شام اُترے تو ان لفظوں میں سورج ڈوبنے لگ جاتا ہے
اب بھی اُس کے خط پڑھ کر کچھ مجھ میں ٹوٹنے لگ جاتا ہے
اب بھی خط کے اِک کونے میں وہ اِک دِیپ جلا دیتی ہے
اب بھی میرے نام پہ اپنے اُجلے ہونٹ بنا دیتی ہے
اب بھی اُس کے خط آتے ہیں
بھیگے بھیگے اور بھینے جادو میں لپٹے
….اب بھی اُس کے خط آتے ہیں
The poem actually telling the feeling of a lover that how they used to feel when they received letters of beloved.
I wonder that how people used to compose themselves while writing letters. They would have shed tears, smudging the writing making other feel for the same condition. This thing is solely missing in the e-mail and stuff.
The feeling and the ecstasy level of receiving letter is unexplainable. Best example is to receive the call letter of your job. Ah what a fine feeling.
So the crux of this post is that Letters are letters nothing can replace its place. No matter how advance we become still the urge of writing letter will remain in our hearts.