LETTER WRITING- A LOST ART

By Chirali Sharma

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I have always been fascinated by the concept of writing a letter. Its not like a mail or a text message. Its deep, its personal and its there, in your hand, a tangible piece, which will always be there, there is nothing that will take it away from you. You might forget it, but that letter, that part of your history will always be there. It is also a good way for your future generations to learn more about you, to learn about your way of life, your personality and about your youth. Would you rather read your grandparent’s letter or an e-mail? What would you prefer?

Letter writing has been in existence since ancient times. It was the main and probably the only form of communication till the 19th century. Sometime around the 1830’s the telegraph was invented, and although it allowed a more faster and relaxed form of sending and receiving messages it was not that big of a threat to the art of letter writing. Letters were still written but, if there was an emergency then atleast you had the facility of immediately sending a message and that the other person would also receive it soon. Telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 and later on Thomas Edison invented the carbon microphone which produced a strong telephone signal and was given its patent in 1879. But it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the manufacturing of telephones became common, and the production of telephones started on a large scale.

But even though the facility of a telephone was there, especially in India, it was not available to everyone and many could not afford it. Also the reception quality was not very clear and precise, as it is nowadays. Only major cities had telephone lines and telephone exchange. Also, for long distance calls, you had to go through a lengthy process, where you had to first connect to a telephone operator and then she/he would connect you to the respective party, but many times in this process the call might be cut off, before you could even connect to the other person. It was a nightmare.

Thus, along with being a time-consuming and lengthy process, it was also unpredictable and unreliable.

Ok, I’m rambling here, and not getting to the point. My point here is, that even after telephones and even the invention of computers, their limited reach and nature curbed their popularity and this helped to maintain letter writing its no.1 position as the most preferred form of communication.

What I’m trying to say here is that letter writing is fast disappearing in the background, fading away and very few people are realizing how important and valuable they are. Letters are not just a piece of paper with writing on it, they are personal, they are intimate. Also, it does help that letter writing would help you in honing your writing and language skills.

I love to write and receive letters. I love the journey of a letter, from picking up a paper and pen and writing down one, to going dropping it off in the letter box and then  the anticipation, the nervousness of getting a mail, of looking for the mail man everyday and hoping that maybe today you would get it, hoping that they received your letter in good condition and imagining their reaction while reading the letter and then anxiously awaiting their reply. Its almost poetic in nature.

So, tell me letter or virtual mail?

What will it be for you?

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