It's been a long, time since I received a proper letter via snail-mail. The only things the postman brings for me now-a-days are bills and bank statements. Nothing very inspiring.
The only time the sound of the postman's bell excites me is around New Year when at least some people take the trouble to visit a post office and post me a card or around my birthday when I am assured of two cards each year wherever I am. One is from my sister who lives abroad and the other from a school pal who never forgets my special day.
Which is why I treasure my collection of old letters and cards a great deal. Yes, I have collected boxes of letters and cards that I have received through the years, as well as ones that I have sent my family members when we were apart. Actually it is more of a family collection.
The letters are stored in boxes that at one time either contained chocolates or biscuits or even shoes but are now home to so many memories which come to my mind when I shift through their contents. There are birthday cards, New Year cards, Valentines Day cards, on your wedding day, bon voyage, to the proud parents, congratulations and the list goes on. I realise that I no longer know the whereabouts of some of the senders of these letters and cards as I have lost touch with them but if not for their handwritten tokens of friendship and affection, I would have forgotten them forever.
One of my sisters is a prolific letter-writer and remains one till today. She no longer lives in Sri Lanka but never forgets to send a card for any occasion, whatever that maybe (you guessed right, she is the one who always sends me a birthday card by post).
She also takes great care whenever she sends a letter or card. I remember, years ago, she had a collection of silver and gold lined pens in different colours that she jealously guarded, which were used to write out addresses. She also had a collection of stickers to decorate the envelope, which I am sure made the persons who received the letter feel really special. Even today, when ever she visits a new country or city, we are sure of receiving a post card from her. I wish I could have kept up the habit like her over the years but I am guilty of resorting to more modern modes, like sending an email or text to wish my friends even though I hate things like e-cards and don't even bother to open what I receive because they are so impersonal.
My father was an avid letter-writer and I have a collection of letters that he sent me when his work took him away from home. I was especially careful when sending him letters because he was particular that there are no spelling mistakes.
He had the habit of making corrections on the letter I had sent him and returning it along with his reply. One word in particular that he corrected and which I still remember is how I spelled "grateful" as "greatful" in a letter and he returned it with the corrected spelling. I've never made that spelling mistake again!
My father-in-law still treasures the telegram that was sent to his father by a relative announcing his birth. It happened 78 years ago but it is so special to him.
Just as much I enjoyed receiving letters, I also liked writing them. I even had a book on how to write letters which gave instructions on how to write to friends, parents, lovers, teachers etc., The only letters I write these days are to my son's class teacher asking he be excused for absence from school.
Things like letters are what we miss out in these days of high tech communications. We can never keep emails, text messages and chats stacked up in boxes. We can hang onto them for a while for sentimental reason but at some point we hit the delete button and they are lost to us forever.
Guess those of the present generations will have no letters, telegrams or cards to look back on one day. I am ‘Grateful’ that I have my boxes of memories stored away. I can always pull them out one by one when I get lonely and re-live my past.