The familiar scrawl

And then suddenly, the postal system was replaced by the internet.

It all started one summer when I was a school-going kid visiting cousins in another city. I made a friend who was just over a year older than me and who was a neighbour to my cousins.

At that time, I am sure both of us could not have imagined that a quick exchange of addresses would result in a friendship that would span multiple decades with the support of the postal system and later on, the internet.

I still remember those days clearly. Nothing would compare with the excitement of seeing an envelope in the post-box addressed to me in the familiar scrawl. And the letter would be read and re-read till the contents were almost memorised. It was a time when both of us were going through our teens. All our emotions were poured out in the letters. The excitement of going to a college, meeting new people, choosing new courses and crushes, all became more thrilling and the disappointments more bearable just sharing it each other.

The odd summer when we would end up meeting at my cousin’s place always started with uncomfortable and embarrassing silences. How come the words flowed so easily when there was the comfort of not seeing the person face-to-face? How come so many silly thoughts that were easily put down on the paper could not be spoken out to fill those silences?

And my mother had the most predictable reaction that a mother of a teenage girl would have in this situation. From ignoring the envelopes, to talking sense into me, to finally grudgingly accepting this weird friendship, she has gone through various stages of a stressed-out mom.

Over the years, from writing one letter a week, the frequency slowly dwindled to one a month and then to sending birthday cards once a year. And over the years, my friend left the country and we lost touch for a few years. I think my mom must have been most relieved at that time. And then suddenly, the postal system was replaced by the internet. We got hold of each other’s email addresses and the letters flowed over the net, across the globe.

Years later, my friend found his soul-mate and I found mine. The amazing thing about our partners is the acceptance of our relationship and the trust they have placed in us. Definitely more than my mom ever did.

This strange relationship, whose foundation was laid with the power of words, no longer needs frequent letters, phone calls or visits to keep it strong. Strangely, that one odd email, that surprise phone call seems sufficient to keep it going.

But sometimes when I see my post-box filled with only boring utility bills, I long to be back in that decade when the ring of the bell of the post-man’s bicycle was the most eagerly awaited sound of an otherwise dull afternoon and a simple letter was enough to keep me smiling for days.

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