Pen to paper- rediscovering letters

There is a nostalgic satisfaction in pressing flowers into personal journals and books. A sense of memory mixed with wonder strikes on finding a dried botanical, almost perfect even in death, made timeless within the words of a favourite author or even one’s own. A feeling that is recreated in the storing away and rediscovering of letters from friends, family, lovers– where writers becomes present though personally handwritten words and language unique to themselves and their relationship to you.

On  days of leisure, time sometimes  needs to be spent organising & cleaning– tasks whose boundaries can extend into sorting through keepsakes or photographs. An unexpected discovery among these forgotten souvenirs, offers a moment of excitement– a brief escape into reminiscing for a time when technology had not taken over life and when analog and digital only seemed to apply to watches.

On one such day, I discovered a trunk filled with over 200 letters. Envelopes filled with reports of life in other places, musings, invitations, greetings, shared secrets stared out at me from the darkness. These were letters from back in school and college. Most were hand written, some typed and others smattered with drawing to illustrate a point for which there were no words in a 12 year old’s vocabulary. I remember the unique thrill of receiving a letter when the Indian Post didn’t fail you, and then judiciously choosing a good spot and time to read it in. These reading sessions were often accompanied by a treat—the experience needed to be enjoyed in on as many levels.

Finding these old letters—written on inland sheets and a variety of paper— onion, airmail, notebook, marble, printed and handmade, now withering into pale yellows—ageing almost like some of the tea bungalows that we restored, brings back a past alive only in memory, stories and photographs. The art of the written letter imbibed a slower life and deeper relationships. Its essence and specialness lies in it’s inimitable personal experience– the smell of paper, its texture, shade, the type of ink, the style of handwriting, the expression of unbridled feeling cannot be replaced by the digital. Today, there are wonderful resources for letter supplies. These are a few curated, personal favourites,  should you feel the urge to pen a letter– a simple and beautiful form of storytelling  for human contact over distances.

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